A good night’s sleep is crucial to good health. Engaging in the appropriate amount of sleep each night allows your body time to rest, repair tissues, and restore hormone levels. The position you sleep in can negatively or positively affect the quality of your sleep. This is especially true if you suffer from conditions such as back pain, sleep apnea, and acid reflux. If you have any of these medical conditions, read on to learn which sleep position may provide the most comfort for a good night’s rest.
8. Acid Reflux
Acid reflux occurs when a weakened valve allows stomach acids to back up from the stomach into the esophagus, causing heartburn. Choosing the wrong sleeping position can aggravate the symptoms of this condition. With acid reflux, avoid sleeping on your back, as this position allows acid to easily back up into your esophagus. Instead, MedCline recommends sleeping on your left side. If you frequently find yourself lying flat on your back, sleeping on an incline may help. You can purchase a reflux sleep wedge or place blocks beneath the head of your bed to elevate it.
7. Back Pain
Sleeping either flat on your back or on your stomach can place excess strain on your spine and back muscles. To prevent the stress that can aggravate back pain, the University of Rochester Medical Center recommends using pillows to provide support while sleeping. If you prefer sleeping on your back, place a pillow beneath your knees to reduce pressure on your spine. Meanwhile, placing a pillow between your knees while sleeping on your side will decrease the stress on your hips and lower back. For those who snooze best while on their tummies, a pillow beneath the stomach can reduce back strain.
6. Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea refers to episodes in which a person stops breathing while asleep. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when enlarged structures in the throat become relaxed and block your airway. Sleeping on your back may contribute to sleep apnea, as it allows those relaxed tissues at the base of your throat to drop down and interfere with proper airflow. If you suffer from sleep apnea, try to sleep on your side. Placing a pillow behind your back can help prevent you from rolling over onto your back as you slumber.
5. Other Breathing Issues
If you suffer from asthma, allergies, or lung disease, you may find it difficult to breathe easily while reclining in bed. The Cleveland Clinic offers tips for sleeping while dealing with shortness of breath. One position that may provide relief involves lying on your side with your back straight and a pillow between your legs. Utilizing pillows to elevate your head will also allow you to draw air into your lungs more easily. A second option involves lying on your back with your knees bent and pillow propping them up. Again, using pillows to elevate your head allows for easier breathing.
4. Heart Failure
When suffering from heart failure, it is challenging enough to keep up your energy without losing much-needed sleep as well. Sleeping on your side may prove the best way to get a restorative night of sleep. Elevating the head of your bed may also allow gravity to help you to breathe easier at night when you are dealing with heart failure. Since many patients with heart failure also suffer from sleep apnea, it may be helpful to obtain sleep apnea testing. A CPAP machine may help you to sleep more easily and may allow you to sleep on your back.
3. Kidney Stones
Some studies, such as this one in Nature Reviews Urology, suggest that changing your sleep position may ease the passing of kidney stones. Switching up your sleep position, be it on your right side, left side, front, or back, may allow kidney stones to exit the body. Furthermore, a BMJ study suggests a link between sleeping for extended periods in one position and the formation of kidney stones. Researchers theorize that remaining in one position for an extended period of time may reduce blood flow to a particular region of the kidney, allowing minerals to crystallize into kidney stones.
2. Neck Pain
According to Harvard Health Publishing, sleeping on your back or your side provides the best relief from neck pain. In either position, a supportive feather pillow or memory foam pillow may help keep your neck in a comfortable position. When sleeping on your side, it may be advisable to use a pillow that is higher beneath your neck than your head to provide added support. Ask your doctor to recommend a supportive cervical pillow that will keep your spine aligned and relieve your pain.
During pregnancy, your body may be plagued by back pain, difficulty breathing, heartburn, and the discomfort of your swollen abdomen. The American Pregnancy Association recommends sleeping on your side to help relieve symptoms of back pain and shortness of breath. While on your side, you may find it comfortable to place a pillow beneath your abdomen to give you extra support. If you find it challenging to balance on your side, try placing pillows behind your back for extra support.