Sleep has always been known as a cure-all, and no matter how bad you’re feeling you can almost guarantee that a good night’s rest will make it better.
Although a lot of this has to do with giving our body the rest it needs and allowing our minds to turn off and reset, the position that we sleep in could be the most important part of healing.
As it turns out, the position we sleep in at night is more important than we think.
The way our bodies are positioned when we lay in bed as night can play a huge part in making us feel better or worse, so knowing exactly how to lay and what ailments these positions can treat is an easy way to recover.
What are the best sleeping positions for common conditions?
For reflux and digestive issues, laying on your side can be helpful, whereas those suffering from back pain may benefit from having their legs elevated. Depending on your physical condition, there’s likely to be the ideal sleep position that can alleviate symptoms and help you get a good night’s sleep.
Whether your problem is aches and pains from pregnancy or acid reflux, there’s a sleep position out there to make your ailment a whole lot better.
We’re here to look at some of the most common conditions that plague us as we try to go to sleep and how to position your body to make sure they’re no longer a bother.
- 1 Why Does Our Sleep Position Matter?
- 2 The Best Sleeping Position for Acid Reflux
- 3 The Best Sleeping Position for Digestion
- 4 The Best Sleeping Position for Pregnancy
- 5 The Best Sleeping Position for the Heart
- 6 The Best Sleeping Position for Sinus Drainage
- 7 The Best Sleeping Position for a Sore Back
- 8 The Best Sleeping Position for Gas
- 9 The Best Sleeping Position for Insomnia
- 10 Related Questions
Why Does Our Sleep Position Matter?
Most of us spend a third of our life in bed if we’re lucky enough to get the recommended eight hours of sleep each night that is.
With this much time spent either asleep or trying to fall asleep, it’s no wonder that the position we lay in while we’re in bed has some effect on us the following day.
The average person moves around quite a lot in the night, even if it seems you’re always sleeping in the same position when you wake up in the morning.
The positions we choose, either consciously or subconsciously, can impact our body significantly as we stay that way for hours at a time each night.
Not only can our nightly sleeping positions impact our bodies, but they can also help alleviate other issues.
If you’re someone who struggles to sleep because of things like reflux, pregnancy, or insomnia, the good news is a simple switch to your positioning can bring relief that you never thought possible and get you the sleep that you deserve.
The Best Sleeping Position for Acid Reflux
Acid reflux, heartburn, and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) are conditions that can cause sleeplessness in people of all ages.
It’s believed that around one quarter of us experience sleep issues due to heartburn and those diagnosed with GERD report three out of four people having these issues at night, so knowing how to sleep to combat them is essential.
To get a good night’s sleep and prevent heartburn and reflux, the best position is to lay on your left side, and sometimes with a pillow in between your legs.
This is because laying on your right side prompts the lower esophageal sphincter to relax which leads to a lessened defense against reflux, so it should be avoided altogether.
Other things you can do at night to prepare for sleep when you suffer from reflux is to set your bed up so that your head is elevated around eight inches above the mattress by using a thicker pillow or multiple pillows together.
You should also avoid eating up to four hours before you go to bed so that there’s minimal acid in your stomach to make its way back up.
The Best Sleeping Position for Digestion
We’re all guilty of eating a big meal before bed and then regretting that decision as soon as we lay down to sleep.
If this sounds like something you do more often than not, you’ll need the best sleep position to aid digestion.
To ensure that your digestive system can work at its most efficient, you should sleep on your left side.
This will help the stomach to break down food as it’s less squashed, which occurs when you’re laying on the right side or on your stomach.
If you’re a back sleeper and don’t mind being in an elevated position, you can sleep sitting in an almost upright position to help with digestion, having just as many benefits as side sleeping.
This will help the food to travel through as quickly as possible but it’s not always ideal where comfort is concerned.
The Best Sleeping Position for Pregnancy
There’s nothing fun about trying to sleep when you’re pregnant and the further the pregnancy goes on, the harder it becomes.
When you’re in the second and third trimester especially, getting a good sleep seems impossible in any position, so you want to be sure you have the best chance.
For pregnant women, sleeping on your left side is not only the most comfortable but also the healthiest for you and the baby.
This allows for adequate blood flow but also takes the pressure off from your back and hips, which can become uncomfortable in the later months.
For added comfort, a pillow can be added between the knees and another behind the back for ultimate support.
During the second half of pregnancy, women are advised to no longer sleep on their backs and avoid sleeping on the right side where possible.
Laying in these positions puts pressure on the liver and also prevents adequate blood flow for you and your baby, so stick to the left side as much as possible.
The Best Sleeping Position for the Heart
Heart issues become more common as we get older and certain conditions can be exasperated when we sleep at night with poor circulation and restrictions on our airways.
Sleep apnea, those sleeping with a CPAP machine, and people with heart issues should be aiming to sleep on their back with an elevated head or on their left side if their condition allows it.
If you have heart issues and want to ensure the most comfortable sleep without having to prop yourself up with multiple pillows, you might consider investing in an adjustable bed.
These beds use a remote control to change the positioning so that you can keep your head and chest above the rest of your body without having to move or get out of bed to do so.
The Best Sleeping Position for Sinus Drainage
One of the most uncomfortable sleeping periods of your life occurs when you’re sick with a cold, thanks to the excess mucous and phlegm blocking up our sinus passages.
During this time, finding a comfortable position to sleep seems impossible, but there are certain ways to lay that make it easier to breathe and rest.
To allow for adequate sinus drainage, you should lay on your back and keep your head propped up.
Use several pillows under your head and back and sleep in an elevated position for as long as it’s comfortable.
Being in this position has a range of benefits when you’re sick with a cold or hayfever, including:
- Mucus can drain more freely so that it’s less likely to make you feel stuffed up;
- Sinus pressure is relieved in this position which reduces pain;
- Mucus won’t drip down the back of your throat which can cause a cough;
The Best Sleeping Position for a Sore Back
According to the American Chiropractic Association, around 31 million Americans experience back pain at any given time, so it’s no wonder that so many of us suffer from poor sleep.
If you experience frequent back pain or have a recent injury or recovery process, knowing the best positions for relief can be a lifesaver.
Two positions are helpful for lower and middle back pain as they relieve pressure from the spine which reduces the pain.
Firstly, lying flat on your back with a supportive pillow to cradle your neck and head can relieve pressure and create a neutral position.
Secondly, laying on your side with a pillow in between your legs reduces the pressure from your hips and back.
The Best Sleeping Position for Gas
Some of our favorite foods are responsible for causing unpleasant gas, and whether you’re keeping your partner awake or feeling stomach pains because of it, you’re probably not going to get the best sleep.
Luckily, you can alleviate the gas and get to sleep with a comfortable position that helps this very problem.
Firstly, you can try sleeping on your left side with a pillow in between your knees.
This allows gravity to help move waste through the colon which can stop the build-up of gas.
Secondly, you can lay flat on your stomach to add light pressure to the area. This can relieve some of the discomforts and may even help to pass gas that feels trapped.
The Best Sleeping Position for Insomnia
For people with insomnia, their last concern is usually what position they’ll sleep in, but whether or not they’ll get to fall asleep at all.
If you have insomnia though, it can be helpful to lay in the healthiest sleep position in the hopes that it’ll assist you with drifting off.
The best sleeping position for insomnia is laying flat on your back with a good, supportive pillow.
This aligns the neck, spine, and head so that you’re neutral and in a comfortable position.
However, if you have another position that feels more conducive to a good night’s sleep, go with that and take any chance you have to get some rest.
There are other things you can do to help with insomnia in addition to the right sleeping position.
Have a dark room at the right temperature, clean and comfortable sheets and bedclothes, and stay away from anything overstimulating before bed like caffeine, alcohol, and digital screens.
Sleep is a fundamental part of a healthy mind and body, and knowing how to use your body to heal even when you’re asleep is a powerful tool to have.
If you suspect your sleep patterns aren’t helping you or want to know more about positioning yourself for better rest, read on to see the answers to some FAQs about sleeping situations and why they matter.
Can You Sleep Without a Pillow?
In most cases, it’s advisable to sleep with a pillow underneath for support as your neck and head both require cradling to lay in a neutral position.
What is the Best Mattress for Back Pain?
The mattress you sleep on also has a big impact on the quality of your sleep as well as how comfortable certain positions are.
If you’re shopping for a mattress specifically to help with back pain choose one made of either memory foam or latex.
They contour the spine to give it firm support without being too hard and uncomfortable to lay on.
What is the Healthiest Sleeping Position?
If you’re not trying to tackle a specific health problem or comfort issue, the healthiest position to sleep in each night is on your back.
In this position, your head, neck, and spine are all resting in a neutral position and any excess pressure is being taken off your body, so overall, it’s the most comfortable and naturally supportive.