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What is the best sleep position for your health?

BY Abbas Kanani

13th Sep 2022 Wellbeing

What is the best sleep position for your health?

Did you know that your sleep position can affect your health? Pharmacist and health adviser Abbas Kanani shares expert advice on choosing a sleeping position

Your sleeping position can determine a lot about your health, and can also affect your health in different ways.  

It's difficult to control what sleeping position we naturally fall into, as our body will subconsciously fall into the most comfortable position for us. However, some positions are better for you than others, and some could actually hinder your health and wellbeing.  

Here, Abbas Kanani, pharmacist and health adviser for UK Online Pharmacy—Chemist Click reveals exactly how your sleep position is affecting your health. 

If you sleep on your side

Woman sleeping on her side

More than 60 per cent of people sleep on their side. This is mostly likely because it is one of the most comfortable sleeping positions. Often our body naturally moves to this position, which is linked to when we were in the womb in the foetal position. 

Sleeping on your side is probably the best position. It offers a number of benefits to your body, from promoting healthy spine alignment which can help to prevent back pain to reducing heartburn and snoring. Side sleeping would be particularly beneficial for older people, those who snore or have sleep apnoea, those with back pain, people with acid reflux and pregnant women.  

"Often our body naturally moves to this position, which is linked to when we were in the womb"

There are a few drawbacks to sleeping on your side, however. Those with shoulder pain should refrain from side sleeping as this could cause further pain and unwanted pressure on the shoulder.  

Those who are worried about wrinkles should also avoid side sleeping, as your face is being pressed against the pillow which is stretching and irritating the skin which could promote ageing.  

If you sleep on your back

Man sleeping on his back

Lying on your back is the second most popular sleeping position and offers just as many benefits as side sleeping. When you're sleeping on your back, it's easy to keep alignment and to also evenly distribute your weight. This also helps to prevent any neck and back pain.  

Sleeping on your back would be beneficial for those who suffer with congestion or allergies, as this position will relieve any congestion. Those who are keen to keep their skin in tip top condition should also sleep on their back as you are facing upwards so there's no damage from pressing your face into the pillow. Back sleeping would also be advised for those who suffer from neck pain, lumbar spinal pain and migraines.  

However, sleeping on your back is the worst position if you snore or suffer from sleep apnoea. Furthermore, if you sleep on your back with limited support for your neck and head you could be susceptible to headaches and migraines. If you are a back sleeper ensure you have a supportive pillow which fits in the curve of your neck and supports your head and natural spinal curve. 

If you sleep on your stomach 

Woman sleeping on her stomach

Sleeping on your stomach is the least common sleeping position, and for good reason. There are more negatives to this position compared to positives, and those who sleep on their stomach could put themselves at risk of a less restful night's sleep. 

"Sleeping on your stomach is the least common sleeping position, and for good reason"

The stomach offers the least amount of back support and can actually increase pressure on the spine which may cause pain once you wake up. Furthermore, those who sleep on their stomach will have their head facing one side. This can twist the neck and head out of alignment, which will have a negative effect on your spine and may also cause you to suffer a stiff neck upon waking.

What is the best sleeping position for pregnancy?

Pregnant woman sleeping

Those who are pregnant should sleep on their side with their knees bent, similar to the foetal position. This side sleeping position can help to relieve any pressure from the growing baby and allow healthy blood flow throughout the body.

The left side has been noted because it prevents any unwanted pressure on the liver and helps blood flow to the uterus, kidneys, heart and foetus.

Which sleep position is right for you?

Determining the sleeping position for you is personal preference. You should consider various factors such as if you snore or suffer sleep apnoea, or if you often have back and neck pain.  

"Determining the sleeping position for you is personal preference"

Side sleeping has been noted as the best position for the body, so this is probably one to try and get into the habit of trying, but again, it all depends on you. However, regardless of which position you choose, one thing you should be making sure of is that you have a firm mattress and pillows. These will support the spine and neck, which is imperative to prevent any aches and pains in future. 

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