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How Your Sleeping Positions Affect Your Health

sleeping positions

How Your Sleeping Positions Affect Your Health

Ever wonder how your sleeping positions affect your health? Bodies don’t remain youthfully flexible forever. Everyone is different. There’s a saying that all people put their pants on one leg at a time. Well, some people don’t. Jackie Chan could probably put on three pairs of pants two legs at a time simultaneously while doing a back-flip and juggling precious ancient Chinese artifacts. Or he might be a little too old. Here’s the point: some people have more physical ability than others.

Does Jackie Chan sleep painlessly? Maybe, maybe not. The man has broken ten bones in his body. He does his stunts. So even though he’s in great shape and more flexible than most people, he likely has his fair share of bodily aches to contend with at night.

Even if he didn’t beat himself up doing amazing stunts for the Chinese film industry, as the man ages, he’s likely to notice increased stiffness. People get older. Maybe putting on pants isn’t the same for everybody, but we all do expire eventually. Some are faster than others. As you get older, you start to notice this. Little aches and pains get more and more impacting.

Eventually, you’ve always got a background “static” of aches and pains you’re ignoring. But wouldn’t it be nice to turn down the “volume” on some of that pain static? Part of the problem could be how and where you sleep. Believe it or not, your most common sleeping positions at night can have a direct effect on your health. We’ll explore that concept here.

Related: Tips to Help Get Better Sleep at Night 

Varying Sleeping Positions

If you sleep on your back, that’s the “supine” position. The individual in charge of applying scientific names to things wasn’t available when sleep scientists got around to naming the “starfish” position. They had to get literal Steve to do the job. He also named “stomach” and “soldier” sleepers.

Most sleeping positions are some variation of these, you can read more about them all here. Of the most common positions, it’s a good idea to sleep on your back or side; both have benefits and drawbacks. If you’re sleeping on your side, this can be good for your back, but it’s recommended you sleep with something like a pillow between your legs.

If you twist and turn at night, this action has an unhealthy impact on your spine and pelvis. The weight of your legs also pulls down on your skeletal structure in this position. But something soft between your knees can counteract these negative effects.

Younger people tend to sleep in the “starfish” position, as they’re less likely to experience soreness. Back sleepers experience health benefits as regards back pain. Meanwhile, stomach sleepers tend to be sleeping least healthily; break the habit if you can. Altogether, each position has advantages and disadvantages based on your health issues.

Sleeping Positions for Back Issues

Sleeping in a “soldier” position with your hands at your side, or a “starfish” position tends to be better than stomach sleeping if your back hurts. The soldier position reduces upper back pain. If you like sleeping on your side, do the pillow trick advocated earlier. Also, be careful what you eat before bed. Late-night heartburn causes you to sleep sitting up, hurting your back and neck.

Another thing you might do is change your mattress. Maybe the issue is that the one you’re using now is old, and doesn’t provide you the support it did. Or maybe the mattress is new, it’s just too firm. Whatever the case, there are options designed specifically for those who contend with such issues; just check out this link to the best mattress for back pain.

Finding Your Most Ideal Solution

Maybe what you should do is change your diet before bed. Maybe you want to sleep on your side with a pillow or try variations of starfish and soldier sleeping positions. Perhaps you should stretch before bed, and when you wake up. 

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Kaitlen Knowles, Clinical Social Work/Therapist, LCSW (she, her), Rochester, NY

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