The Best Position for Sleep and 7 Reasons to Find Yours
Try these tips for getting comfortable in your favorite sleeping position.
The founder of the CALM app wrote a book offering sleep tips and information; here’s a taste of what’s inside.
Back, Side, or Front? The Best Sleeping Position
Since humans climbed down from the trees to sleep lying on the ground, the quest for the comfiest night’s sleep has been on. But apart from the mattress you lie on, the sleep position you adopt could be disrupting your sleep, not improving it. If you wake up with aches and pains, perhaps a new position is worth a try. The good news is you can train yourself to sleep in a better pose, reaping all the sleep benefits as you do so.
A survey by the US National Sleep Foundation showed that most Americans sleep on their sides. Yet, the number one sleeping position—as espoused by sleep specialists and chiropractors—is on your back. Next up is side sleeping, with sleeping on your stomach the worst for your body.
• Good for: keeping spine and neck in a neutral position and preventing wrinkles (nothing’s pressing on your face).
• Bad for: snoring.
• A pillow under the knees can offer extra support for the lower back.
Adults can shift about during sleep between 10 and 12 times an hour.
• Good for: easing snoring.
• Bad for: neck pain and causing wrinkles.
• A flatter pillow may help limit neck discomfort.
• Good for: pregnant women.*
• Bad for: skin sagginess and heartburn. (Sleeping on the right aggravates this condition, so sleeping on the left is best.)
• Choose a thick enough pillow to support your head.
Train yourself to sleep on your back:
1. Grab three extra pillows.
2. Put one pillow under your knees.
3. Arrange one pillow either side of your body.
4. Go to sleep as usual. You may find it takes a bit longer to drift off, but soon you won’t need the pillows and your body will reap the slumber benefits of this back sleeping position.
* If you are pregnant or caring for a vulnerable person or child, or if you have a respiratory condition, please make sure to talk to a health practitioner before changing any habits.
Try these tips to "Release Stress for a Good Night’s Sleep."
7 Reasons to Sleep
A good night’s sleep—by which we mean 7 to 9 hours—has myriad proven benefits to health. Here are 7 top reasons to get some shut-eye.
1. Immunity Boost
Your immune system is super-busy during the night, so prolonged lack of sleep can disrupt your ability to fend off every cold and flu bug going round.
2. Slimmer Waistline
Research shows that people sleeping fewer than 7 hours a day tend to gain more weight. Those who sleep less have lower levels of leptin (a chemical that conveys fullness) and higher levels of ghrelin (a hormone stimulating hunger). So, the more you sleep, the less you eat.
3. Happier Outlook
A good night’s sleep has you springing out of bed in a good mood with plenty of energy and focus. It’s no surprise, then, that when people with anxiety or depression were asked about their sleeping habits, most reported sleeping for fewer than 6 hours a night.
4. Improved Libido
Sleep boosts your sex drive and regular sex helps you fall asleep more easily. Research suggests that people who don’t get enough sleep are less interested in sex.
5. Diabetes Prevention
A lack of deep sleep interferes with the body’s control of blood sugar.
6. Healthier Heart
If you don’t get enough sleep, your blood pressure rises along with your heart rate. Sustain such loss of slumber and you increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
7. Fertility Bonus
Fertility relies on a set of reproductive hormones, and disruptions of your master clock through bad sleeping habits or not enough sleep can result in trouble conceiving.
From the book The Magic of Sleep: A Bedside Companion by Michael Acton Smith. Copyright © 2020 by Michael Acton Smith. Published on January 7, 2020 by Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Reprinted by permission.