5 Common Sleeping Positions and Their Effect on Your Health

Sleep is an essential part of life and its something that’s personal to each one of us. From bedtime routines to sleeping times, we tend to have our own preferences and habits. The same is true for sleeping positions.

But did you know that the way in which you can sleep can tell you a lot more about you than you think? In fact, not only does it affect how well you sleep at night, but also how you feel throughout the day, even during waking hours. What’s more, is that it can even affect your brain function!

So, how do you like to sleep? Is it sprawled out like a starfish, straight on your back, or curled up in the fetal position? Keep reading to find out how your sleeping position could be affecting your health.

1. Sleeping on Your Side

This is the most common sleeping position in not just humans, but in animals as well. According to an article on HuffPost, nature has the right idea, since sleeping on your side is apparently the most effective way to “clear our brain of the metabolic waste products that built up while we are awake.”

Researchers have also been studying the effect of the glymphatic system, a nightly clearing process of the brain that may reduce the occurrence of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Although this has yet to be proven in mice, the prospects are promising. So, if you’re sleeping the way nature intended, you’re on the right path!

2. Sleeping on Your Back With Arms By Your Side

Side sleeping may be the best position for brain development, but if you are facing issues in the spine or neck area, you might be better off with a different sleeping position. According to the Tan Tock Seng Hospital in Singapore, sleeping on your back with your arms by your side is the best position for spine and neck health.

But, they also warn that this could increase the possibility of snoring and sleep apnea. Since the latter of those is a serious condition that could hinder breathing during sleep, it’s something to be careful about.

3. The Fetal Position

As the name suggests, this sleeping position imitates the position of a fetus in its mother’s womb. As it falls under side sleeping, it comes under the most common sleeping position. According to a survey by Men’s Health magazine, 41% of a 1000 person group said they preferred the fetal position.

As with side sleeping, the fetal position also promotes neurological health through “brain cleansing”. Additionally, this position is also said to relieve stress from vital organs like the liver, stomach, and lungs. Men’s Health magazine also suggests curling up on your right side to get the most beneficial sleep.

4. The ‘Starfish’

The ‘starfish’ position is a variation of back sleeping. But with this position, you’d sleep with your arms above your head rather than by your sides. According to Men’s Health magazine, this is one of the least common sleeping positions in adults (you’d more commonly find this in babies).

The article also points out that starfish sleepers may face the same challenges of back sleepers, such as snoring and sleep apnea. On the other hand, the article says that those that like to sleep in this position are “great listeners” and are “always willing to offer help and generally don’t like being in the limelight.”

5. Sleeping on the Stomach

Sleeping face down, or the “stomach sleeping” position is preferred by those that have trouble falling asleep. But The Mayo Clinic warns that if you have a pillow under your head and your head is turned to the side, this can put undue strain on your back. As a result, you may suffer from back and neck pain.

According to them, one way to alleviate this issue is to remove the pillow at your head completely and instead placing it under your pelvis and lower abdominal area. Stomach sleeping is also not recommended for pregnant women, as this can put too much pressure on the baby and restrict oxygen flow to it.