How do you lie when you sleep? On your back? Your stomach? Curled up in a ball? Standing up?
I knew a guy in high school who would sit straight up when he slept. Of course, he was in class, eyes wide open, day dreaming! But that’s not the kind of sleep position we’re talking about.
What we are asking about is whether some sleeping positions are better for your sleep, your health or even your relationship.
After scouring Teh interwebz, The Facebook, and The Google, here’s what ‘the experts’ seem to think:
What’s the best position for sleep?
The position that works for you. The most common sleep position (41% of sleepers) is lying on the side in a fetal position. But unless you are suffering specific discomfort, specific medical conditions, or chronic restlessness, most of the ‘experts’ seem to agree that if you are getting sound sleep in a particular position, that’s the first consideration.
Of course, things can change over time. So like investing in the stock markets, what works for you today might not work so well tomorrow. The key is in being self aware and, when things change, tracking any adjustments you make.
What’s the best sleep position for your health?
Some claim that sleeping on your back is best for enabling your internal organs to expand and relax as you breathe at night [here].
Others claim that sleep position can impact parts of your jaw that I can’t even pronounce (something about mandibular decubitis) depending on how your lay your face on the pillow! [here]
But there is probably no health condition more relevant to sleep position, especially as we age, than chronic back pain. And, according to The Mayo Clinic, sleep position adjustments can have a profound impact on reducing back pain. The good news is that strategic placement of a pillow to elevate the pelvic and neck areas can help many people sleep in their preferred position…even including the much maligned stomach-down position.
As a mostly reformed stomach sleeper, I can attest to the positive impact of a change in position on lower back pain myself.
What does sleep position say about my personality or even my relationship?
At first glance, the idea of ‘expert’ in these subjects seems to combine late night TV entertainer with university PhD. For instance, one researcher in Britain, Professor Chris Idzikowski,concludes that the most common sleep position (the fetal position), indicates someone who “is tough on the outside, but sensitive at heart.”
Likewise, the least common position (lying on you back with your arms up near your head…who does that?), indicates that you would “make a good friend because you listen to others.” [here]
How someone can tell all of that from an assessment of sleeping position is surely one of the great mysteries of science…or at least the research grant process.
Less of a mystery to any couple that has shared a sleep routine for more than a few months may be what sleeping position says about your relationships [more].
As might be expected, newlyweds tend to sleep more, um, closely entangled…more mature relationships tend to value space. [See more 'Sleeping positions of couples' and what they say about the relationship images]. If your partner is a restless sleeper, then after a few years, a few feet between you may be the key to making everyone’s sleep more peaceful…that or a good mattress! And good sleep certainly has an impact in creating healthy, happy daytime relationships.
Overall, the important thing is that you get the sleep you need. How you position yourself for that sleep can impact how you feel about yourself and others. If all else fails, you can try sleeping while standing up… but that’s a position none of the experts mentioned.