Secret To A Good Night’s Sleep – How Does Sleeping Position Affect Insomnia?

Have you ever woken up feeling refreshed and restored after having an excellent sleep the night before? You are at your best potential to perform the next day if your body has had a good night’s rest having recovered from the wear and tear of everyday life. Since we spend a third of our lives in slumber, it’s extremely important that we sleep well for a good quality of life. Apart from the fact that we need about eight hours of sleep every night (which honestly many of us fail to achieve), another important factor that bears heavily on sleep quality is the position that we sleep in. This article discusses the various sleeping positions, their significance and much more.

What are the various sleeping positions?

People may sleep in a wide variety of ways, some quite unique while others may be somewhat common. It’s seen that people choose a position that they are comfortable sleeping in, which is based on various factors such as their age or health condition.

However simply speaking, the three basic sleeping positions are sleeping on the back, sleeping on the sides (either left or right) and sleeping on the stomach. Among these, sleeping on the sides is the most common.

In 2004, Dr. Chris Idzikowski of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre, conducted a self-report survey of 1004 British subjects and in his survey, he identified more interesting positions which are ultimately derived from the three fundamental ones. He also tried to correlate these positions with certain personality traits that the subjects associated themselves with and the results were as follows-

1) Foetus- This position was found to be the most popular with 41% of the people sleeping in this position. These people are said to be tough from outside but sensitive inside. They are shy and aloof at first but tend to open up once they get to know someone better.

2) The log-In this position, people lie on their sides with their arms down by the side. These people are social, carefree and easy going but may be too trustworthy for their own good.

3) The Yearner- These people lie on their sides again but have their hands stretched out in front of them as if reaching out for something. These people are cynical, suspicious, open minded, slow yet firm in taking decisions.

4) The soldier-This position involves lying on your back with arms by your sides. They are often reserved and keep to themselves but are good listeners and think highly of themselves and others.

5) The Freefaller- In this position one is lying on their stomach. This person is out-spoken, narrow-minded, dominant, arrogant, and bold. This position may lead to neck pain as the neck is pushed to one side and is not neutral. 

6) The Starfish-This position is marked by people lying on their back with legs stretched out and arms stretched above the head. They are liberal, free-thinking, relaxed, and peaceful. They need space in life and do not like crowding.

Interestingly however, when the same survey was conducted among a group of Southeast Asians, the correlation no longer held up. Therefore, the correlation between personality and sleeping position needs further research but the link between a good night’s sleep and sleeping position is quite clear.

Which is the best sleeping position?

Having looked at the various positions, it’s been found out that there is no single position which is the best. Each position is preferred by someone based on habit, age, health condition, etc. and each has its pros and cons. For example lying on your back is really good for your spine because your neck and back have a chance to be in a neutral position but it’s bad for people who snore or have sleep apnoea. Lying on the sides can be beneficial in reducing snoring and indigestion but can be painful for the shoulders and can cause formation of longitudinal sleep wrinkles due to distortion of the facial skin being pressed against the sleep surface. Lying on the stomach prevents snoring and is seen more in children and phases out as we grow older but may cause sleep wrinkles and put pressure on joints and muscles leading to pain.

A Message To Take Back Home

All in all, we shouldn’t fixate on sleeping positions too much because it’s been found out that we change our sleeping position many times even within an hour of sleep. At the same time, certain positions may be beneficial health wise for some, and can be adopted by them for better sleep. In addition to sleeping position, other factors like caffeine intake, mattress quality, exposure to smartphones just before bedtime, exercise and daily sleep routine may have a bearing on how we sleep. Sleep hygiene is regarded as paramount in today’s world and instead of how you prepare, how you recover may be the answer to stay ahead.

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