The sleep position that you naturally gravitate to is kind of a random thing, and no one is really sure why we tend to prefer one position over the others. Each position definitely has its own benefits and drawbacks, however. And depending on what your personal health and medical circumstances are, you may want to re-train yourself in a new sleeping position to make sure you are as healthy as possible.
There are three basic positions you can wind up sleeping in — stomach, side or back. Health experts generally advise sticking to the position you are naturally inclined to take, with the exception of stomach sleeping in certain medical circumstances. Below we’ll take a more detailed look at the pros and cons of each position.
Back sleeping usually isn’t harmful, but it will greatly amp up the volume of snoring. There is something of a folk legend that sleeping on your back prevents wrinkles, but they are actually caused much more by repeated facial expressions than they are by pillow contact.
If snoring isn’t an issue, back sleeping is actually very beneficial as it keeps the head, spine and neck in a neutral and pressure-free position. Keeping the head elevated while on your back also prevents stomach bile from rising back up into the esophagus.
Side sleeping is overall considered to be a healthy and safe position, and is the best choice for those suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. Each side does have a particular drawback, however. Sleeping on the left side puts a little extra strain on the internal organs, while sleeping on the right side can contribute to acid reflux.
Side sleeping also has the benefit of easing neck and back pain. For lower back pain, doctors will often recommend holding a pillow between your knees as you sleep.
This is regarded as the least healthy of all the positions, as it puts the most pressure on both the spine and the internal organs.
Stomach sleeping most frequently tends to be caused by some sort of airway obstruction. If you’re having trouble breathing while asleep, you’ll tend to flip onto your stomach to maximize the ability for air to travel through your airway.