What is the Healthiest Sleeping Position?
What is the best position to sleep in?
So, what is the best sleeping position? First things first – we need to uncover what we mean by the "best sleeping position". It’s a little-known fact, but there’s actually a distinct difference between a comfy sleeping position and a healthy one. Confused? Simply put, it’s natural to assume that if we’re comfy in bed, we must be in the correct sleeping position. But, in reality, when we have a bad sleeping position we can become used to it over time, so we’re led to believe that it’s the best sleeping position. While you may not feel instantly uncomfortable in bed, if you regularly wake with aches and pains, or if you find that you frequently suffer with a disturbed night’s sleep, a bad sleeping position may be the cause. So how do you know if you have a healthy sleeping position? Follow these two simple steps to find out.
Step 1: Check your sleep position
Sleep position 1: On your stomach
Lying on your front isn't the healthiest sleeping position, since it forces you to sleep with your neck twisted to one side, meaning that your spine isn’t correctly aligned. That’s why it’s common for front sleepers to complain of neck and shoulder ache.
We also often get asked what the best mattress for front sleepers is. The simple answer? It’s probably a new one. While this may feel like one of the most comfy sleeping positions for you, lying on your front is a sign that your mattress may not be providing you with sufficient support. Because you don’t feel supported on your back, it’s a natural reaction to roll onto your front and sleep face down instead. While this might feel like the correct sleeping position for you, it can actually be a tell-tale sign that your current mattress isn’t doing its job.
Sleep position 2: On your back
A far better choice than sleeping face down, sleeping on your back allows you to snooze with your spine aligned, helping to reduce the likelihood of aches and pains, particularly in the neck. That said, sleeping in this position can encourage snoring. And as heavy snorers know, this can result in waking several times each night- for you and everyone else involved.
Sleep position 3: On your side
For most people, sleeping on your side is the healthiest sleeping position to choose. The reasons are simple – side sleeping allows you to sleep with your spine straight and supported, but without the breathing difficulties that back sleeping can present for some people. Expecting? Learn more about side sleeping during pregnancy.
Step 2: Check for good sleeping posture
Whether you think the best sleeping position is on your back or side, getting the right support is crucial. Good sleeping posture means that your body is supported at every point and curve that meets the mattress. There are two key indicators that your mattress is providing enough support.
To test, simply lie on your bed in your natural sleeping position (side or back) and check:
- If you can feel the mattress behind the backs of your knees when lying on your back (this is a good sign)
- If you can fit your hand in the space between the small of your back and the mattress (this is a sign that there’s not enough support)
For a healthy sleeping position, your body should sink into the mattress, moulding to keep your spine aligned and your joints supported – reducing the chances that you’ll experience aches, pains or disrupted sleep.
Top tips for finding your healthiest sleeping position
So what is the healthiest sleeping position? Follow these top tips to make it easier to find the best sleeping position for you:
- Remember comfy sleeping positions aren't always healthy: Look for signs of a bad sleeping position, such as front sleeping, frequent waking, or regular aches and pains in the back, neck or joints.
- Sleep on your side or back: To keep your spine aligned and your joints supported.
- Avoid memory foam: The average adult should toss and turn around 70 times each night in their sleep. Fortunately, this doesn’t normally wake you. However, the way that memory foam moulds to your shape doesn’t accommodate this natural need for movement. What’s more, it works by using body heat, meaning that it can get incredibly hot and uncomfortable, disrupting your sleep. Learn more about memory foam and night sweats here.
- Choose a mattress you can sink into: Whether you're assessing your existing mattress or buying a new one, test for support behind the knees and the small of the back. It may surprise you, but softer can sometimes mean more support.