Getting a good night's sleep can make all the difference between a great day and a bad day. People who are chronically sleep-deprived suffer mood disorders, impaired cognitive functions and slowed reaction times.
The health benefits of adequate sleep are innumerable. Without regular restful sleep, you become more susceptible to health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity and depression.
So what's the best way to get a good night's rest? It all starts with the correct sleeping position.
Sleep On Your Side
The majority of people are side sleepers. And the good news is, that sleeping on your side actually has the most health benefits. There are three basic side sleeping positions includ the' fetal position' in which your knees are curled up towards the chest, the 'log position' in which your body is straight with the arms at the sides, and the 'yearner' position which differs slightly from the log in that your arms are stretched in front of you.
The most comfortable side sleeping position is the loosely curled fetal position. It is known to relax the back muscles and is recommended for anyone with back pain. Chiropractors who specialize in the musculoskeletal system recommend putting a pillow between the knees to be hip-width apart to ensure proper alignment of the spine and hip joints. A cervical pillow is the best option for supporting the neck. Shoulders can also benefit from proper alignment during sleep by positioning the top shoulder on a cushion or pillow.
Sleeping on the side can help provide a restful night's sleep to people who have acid reflux or sleep apnea. For the best health benefit, sleep on your left side to relieve heartburn and provide good circulation.
The Connection Between Stomach Sleeping And Back Pain
Often stomach sleepers complain about neck and back pain. Often referred to as the freefall position, sleeping on the stomach causes extra strain on the low back. Because no one can sleep face down and breathe, stomach sleepers turn their head to one side. Not only does this often tweak the neck, adding a pillow to the mix causes backward neck extension. Over time this can lead to chronic neck and shoulder pain and can increase the likelihood of chronic headaches.
Some people prefer stomach-sleeping positions because it helps prevent snoring and can also alleviate sleep apnea. But if you choose this position, a very thin pillow or no pillow should be used to prevent backward extension of the neck.
The Downside Of Sleeping On Your Back
The solder position in which you lie on your back with both arms at your sides and the starfish position in which your arms are up near the head can contribute to sleep apnea, snoring and difficulty breathing.
But if you don't suffer from those positions, some doctors believe that back sleepers have the best spinal alignment. However, to someone with lower back pain sleeping on the back can aggravate it. So if you must sleep on your back, it's best to do so with a pillow under your knees to prevent stress on the lower back muscles.
Other Factors That Influence A Restful Night's Sleep
The position you sleep in can greatly impact your health for the good or the bad. But there are also other factors that aid in sleeping soundly. They include:
* A good mattress can help preventing tossing and turning throughout the night.
* A dark, cool room is the best environment to avoid waking in the middle of the night.
* Good pillows that support the neck in an ergonomic position or that aid in proper spinal alignment.
Other proven habits that can prevent insomnia and encourage a restful night's sleep include cutting out caffeine, turning off electronics at least an hour before bed, and making a to-do list for the next day to ease stress that might keep you awake.