A lot of factors come into play when you’re trying to get a good night’s sleep. The room you sleep in, the bed you're sleeping on and the sleeping position you choose all factor into the quality of your sleep. But you may be wondering what the best sleeping position for you is.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep is essential for a healthy heart. If you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re putting yourself at higher risk for cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease—regardless of age, weight, smoking and exercise habits. Many studies also show a link between sleep apnea and cardiovascular disease.
So, let’s take a look at some of the most popular sleeping positions you can try, the pros and cons, and who might benefit from each one.
Sleeping Position: Supine
Sleeping flat on your back, or what is known as the supine position, helps keep your back in a straight, neutral position. Your weight is evenly distributed across your mattress.
The Pros: Supine is the best sleeping position for those struggling with neck and back pain. It has been shown to reduce acid reflux and even helps with minimizing wrinkles.
The Cons: However, sleeping on your back may lead to snoring, difficulty sleeping and an overall bad sleeping experience. This sleeping position can also make sleep apnea worse.
Bonus: Studies show sleeping on your back may reduce wrinkles because your face is not pressed against a pillow.
Sleeping Position: Side
This may not be the best sleeping position for you, but it is the most popular. This common sleeping position is also called the fetal position because people often tuck their knees up near their chests, simulating a fetus.
The Pros: Sleeping on your side can help eliminate things like:
- Symptoms of sleep apnea
- Symptoms of acid reflux
If you have a bad back, consider placing a pillow between your legs to alleviate pressure on your hips and lower back. If you’re a pregnant women and a side sleeper, try putting a pillow between your knees to make yourself more comfortable.
Sleeping on your left side may also improve circulation. This is because when your heart pumps blood out, the blood gets circulated and then flows back to your heart on the right side of your body. Sleeping on the right side puts pressure against these blood vessels, which limits circulation.
The Cons: Sleeping on your side puts pressure on your shoulder and arm. You could wake up with a strange tingling, or pins and needles.
Bonus: The side position is actually considered two sleeping positions in one because you can sleep facing the left or right side of the bed.
Sleeping Position: Stomach
If you like to sleep on your stomach, you’re not alone. This sleep position is also known as the prone position.
The Pros: Sleeping on your stomach can reduce snoring and sleep apnea symptoms.
The Cons: If you’re a stomach sleeper, you can strain your lower back. People who sleep on their stomachs also sleep with their heads turned, which can cause neck pain. This position may also worsen wrinkles because your face is pressed against your pillow.
Bonus: Sleeping on your stomach is often referred to as the “freefall” position because your body looks like it’s falling. It’s also considered to be the second-most popular sleeping position.
Sleeping Position: Yearner
The yearner position is the third most popular sleeping position. It consists of lying on your side with both arms out in front of your body. It’s different from the log position, which consists of lying on your side with both arms flat.
The Pros: This is a great position for pregnant women.
The Cons: This sleeping position can cause additional pressure on the shoulders and arms, leading to soreness.
Bonus: A Baby Boomer is more likely to sleep like this than Millennials and Gen-Xers.
Couples Sleeping Positions
Research presented at the Edinburgh International Science Festival looked at the most popular sleep positions for couples. Researchers say 42 percent of couples sleep back to back; 31 percent face the same direction; and just 4 percent spend the night facing one another.
The key to a good sleep position is finding one that has you waking up rested and ready to start the day. If you’re having trouble finding a good sleep position, you may want to take a look at your sleep surface. You may need to consider a new mattress.
If you’d like to sleep better, you can download our guide “10 Simple Tips to Wind Down Before Bed”. You’ll get tips that include the one thing you’re not supposed to look at when you’re trying to fall asleep.