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How To Sleep On Your Side Properly

While the medical profession might tell us it’s best to sleep on our backs, for some only a side sleeping position will do. So, here we look at which side to sleep on for optimum health benefits and the best ways to avoid neck and shoulder pain from sleeping on your side all night.

Is sleeping on your side good for you?

When it comes to sleeping on your side there are loads of different positions you could choose, from curled up in a fetus-like ball to straight as a poker, arms by your sides.

As a side sleeper you’ve probably tried them all, but which sleeping position is best for your body?

Curled up in a ball?

Sleeping curled up with your knees pulled up and your chin tucked down towards them feels extremely comfortable. But unfortunately for your back and neck it is one of the worst sleeping positions you can choose. This position puts strain on your entire spine and can also make it more difficult to breathe deeply. If you are pregnant however, this can be a comforting side sleeping position to try.

Straight limbs?

If your preferred side sleeping position is keeping your body straight, the good news is this is much better for supporting your spine’s natural curve and it can also help to reduce sleep apnea. The bad news is that gravity can wreak havoc, contributing to skin aging and increasing sagging and wrinkles.

Generally, any side sleeping position, when maintained for a long period, can cause shoulder and arm pain. This is because lying on your side restricts blood flow and also puts pressure on the nerves. You may even find you toss and turn all night as you become uncomfortable.

But if you’re a side sleeper you’re a side sleeper, and there’s not a lot you can do about it. So how can you relieve this discomfort?

What’s the best side to sleep on?

Your side sleeping posture is only half of it. How do you decide which side to sleep on? Does it make any difference? Medically, your right is not the best side to sleep on if you suffer from heartburn as it can make it worse, potentially putting more pressure on the esophagus. While sleeping on your left side could put a slight strain on your internal organs (especially if you’re pregnant) although it may limit indigestion and acid reflux.

Pregnant sleepers, from around 16 weeks gestation, have long been advised that sleeping on left side is better for the fetus as it helps to improve circulation. For more pregnancy sleep tips, read our guide on how to sleep during pregnancy.

What’s the best pillow for side sleepers?

If you’re looking to avoid neck and shoulder pain from sleeping on your side, your best bet is to introduce some firm pillows.

The best pillow for side sleepers is one that supports the neck fully and allows the head to sink downwards a little. Wool pillows are perfect for this as they give the right level of support.

A further pillow between your knees can help you maintain a good side sleeping posture by helping to keep your hips aligned whether you choose to sleep on right side or left.

If you’re wondering how to sleep on your side properly, or which side to sleep on to reduce aches and pains, hopefully our tips have helped and you can look forward to a restful night in a side sleeping position of your choice.

If you are looking for more ideas about how to sleep better at night naturally, visit our Sleep Health & Advice hub.

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