When most people think of sleep, they think of going to bed to rest up for the following day. While it’s true that sleep is necessary to recuperate after a long day and prepare for the next, it’s much more than merely a form of rest.
As you’re sleeping, your body heals itself, metabolises food, and does a million other things for your physical well-being. Your brain also uses sleep to process information you gathered throughout the day and form long-term memories. Therefore, sleep is as essential for your mental health as it is for your physical recovery.
Many factors go into helping you get a good night’s sleep, but few of them are as important as your sleep position. Sleeping on your stomach, back or side could determine your comfort level and sleep quality. Therefore, it’s essential to do everything you can to ensure you’re in a good sleeping position.
This article aims to explain how different sleep positions can affect you, both as you’re sleeping and when you’re awake. We’ll look at what the best positions are and how to ensure you remain in that position. Finally, we’ll look at how to use Sophrology to get into the best sleeping position possible and remain in it through the night.
Understanding Different Sleeping Positions
To get started, let’s look at the basic sleeping positions and how they might promote or reduce sleep quality.
Sleeping on Your Back
The back position is one of the most common sleeping positions out there. It’s especially great for people who struggle with heartburn and acid reflux, as it can mitigate unwanted symptoms. Sleeping on your back is also an excellent way to keep your spine aligned and your sinuses open if you have a stuffy nose or feel congested.
Sleeping on your back can also relieve symptoms of neck pain and lower back pain. However, if you struggle with sleep apnea or snoring, sleeping on your back can compound your condition. Sleeping on your back leaves your airways prone to collapse, which is what causes sleep apnea.
Sleeping on Your Stomach
If you’re mainly a stomach sleeper, you’ve got some bad news in store. According to Keck Medicine of USC, sleeping on your stomach is the worst position and has the most negative health effects.
Aside from reducing snoring, sleeping on your stomach puts excess pressure on your airways, damages your spinal tissues by flatting their natural curve and forces you to contort your neck. These factors can make it harder to breathe during sleep, increase neck pain, compound lower back pain and cause numbness and tingling due to nerve pain.
Sleeping on Your Side
According to the Sleep Foundation, side sleeping is the most common sleep position in the world and is considered the best position for most people. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best position for everyone.
Side sleeping is great for most people because this position helps keep the spine in a neutral position. Sleeping on your side can alleviate neck and back pain and help with snoring and sleep apnea. However, if you have shoulder pain, a side sleeping position can put unwanted pressure on your shoulder and increase your pain.
Sleeping in the Fetal Position
While this is a lesser-known sleep position, you can optionally sleep in the fetal position if it makes you feel safe and comfortable. However, the drawbacks of sleeping in the fetal position are that it’s bad for your spinal alignment, makes it hard to breathe and puts excess strain on your diaphragm.
Sophrology and Sleep
Blending Eastern wisdom with modern science, Sophrology is a mental well-being practice which combines relaxation, breathing, gentle movement, meditation and visualisation to balance body and mind through the nervous system and enhance performance. Sophrology has been widely practised across Continental Europe for decades in different settings including schools, hospitals and corporate environments and championed by everyone from Olympic athletes to high-flying CEOs. It’s also widely used for sleep issues. In Switzerland, Sophrology is even reimbursed by the Swiss National Insurance as it has been proven that people who practice Sophrology regularly reduce their medication intake by 30%.
Now that you know how each sleep position affects your health, let’s look at how to use Sophrology to ensure you stay in the best position possible.
One of the first things that Sophrology teaches you is how to increase your body awareness. By being aware of your body position while trying to fall asleep, you can increase the likelihood that you’ll sleep in that position. Body awareness also heightens your sense of comfort and how you feel in different sleep positions.
Once you understand how your body reacts to different sleeping positions, whether you feel pain or comfort, you can understand how each position affects your health and wellness. Body awareness will also help you understand if the pain or discomfort you feel throughout the day could stem from your sleep position.
Identifying Daily Discomforts
As your body awareness increases with regular Sophrology practice, you can connect your comfort level during the day to your nightly sleep position. For instance, if you have back pain or neck pain when you wake up, it’s likely because you’re sleeping position isn’t the best. You might be sleeping on your stomach or side when you should be sleeping on your back to reduce back pain.
Another example is that you find yourself short of breath or overly foggy when you initially wake up. This could be because you have mild to moderate sleep apnea and shouldn’t be sleeping on your back. Understanding body awareness makes identifying relationships between daily discomfort and sleeping position easier.
How Sophrology Reduces Stress
Another crucial aspect of Sophrology is that it can help you relieve pressure, tension and stress before you sleep by practising meditation in bed. When we’re feeling stressed or anxious, our muscles naturally tense and tighten. If you fall asleep with tight, tense muscles, you will wake up in a similar state. Therefore, you’re starting your day in a state of tension, which often compounds feelings of stress.
Because of this ongoing relationship between stress, tension and pain, it’s important to use Sophrology to help eliminate stress before sleeping. This, combined with sleeping in the best sleep position for your needs, can result in restful sleep and a pain-free morning.
As your sleep starts to improve, you’ll likely notice that you have increased focus and concentration throughout the day. Poor sleep, due to being in the wrong sleeping position, could lead to brain fog and difficulty concentrating. By using Sophrology to alter your sleep position and reduce stress, you can put these problems to rest, no pun intended!
The Importance of Breathing and Sophrology
A primary focus of Sophrology is to teach deep-breathing exercises. As you’re doing these breathing exercises, lie in different sleep positions. Is it easier to breathe on your back? On your side? On your stomach? It’s important to choose the position that puts the least pressure on your lungs and diaphragm, as this makes it harder to breathe.
Spinal Awareness and Sophrology
Finally, in addition to body awareness, Sophrology will teach you the importance of spinal awareness. Sleeping in the wrong position, such as your stomach or fetal position, puts unwanted pressure on your spine and the muscles around it. Sophrology can make you aware of this discomfort and teach you to find a new position.
The Negative Effects of Poor Long-Term Sleep
If you consistently sleep in the wrong position for a prolonged period, it will have many negative health effects. For starters, you’re more likely to experience joint and muscle pain if you sleep in positions that put unwanted pressure on those joints and muscles. You’re also more likely to have back, neck and shoulder pain if you sleep in the wrong position.
A bad sleeping position can also lead to insomnia, sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. When this happens, you’re at increased risk of developing heart problems, diabetes and various physical and mental illnesses.
Special Considerations For Medical Purposes
As with all things, there are exceptions and special considerations regarding sleeping positions. For instance, while sleeping on your back is often preferable to other positions, it is extremely dangerous if you’re pregnant. Pregnant women risk cutting off blood flow to themselves and their baby by sleeping on their back because the back position puts pressure on a major blood vessel.
Conversely, for people who have sleep apnea, sleeping on your back is a bad idea because it could collapse your airway. Finally, if you have GERD, gastroesophageal reflux disease, it’s recommended to sleep on your left side because this could alleviate your symptoms.
In addition to considering the right sleep position for your condition, it’s also important to choose a mattress and pillow that’s comfortable and will help keep you in that position throughout the night.
Tips For Improving Sleep Posture
While Sophrology is a great start to helping to improve your sleep posture and quality, here are a few additional tips to consider.
- Add or remove pillows if it increases or decreases support and comfort.
- Choose a comfortable mattress that supports your back and change it when it’s getting too old and worn.
- Experiment with different positions and document the outcomes.
- Keep your body as aligned as possible as you’re dozing off.
- Ensure your bedroom is dark, cool and comfortable.
As you can see, your sleep position affects your health and well-being in a wide variety of ways. Therefore, it’s important to use Sophrology and other tips and tricks in this article to help you find the best sleep position for you. Sophrology can help you understand how you feel in various sleep positions and teach you ways to increase your comfort.
If you know someone who deals with chronic pain that could stem from a poor sleep position, share this article with them. It could make the difference between living in pain or overcoming it. Additionally, if you have a personal experience where changing your sleep position benefited you, please share your secrets in the comment section below!
Our Sleep Like a Pro 5-day online series is just £12 and you will discover simple techniques to learn how to let go of any stress and tension that will help you sleep quickly and soundly through the night. Sophrology can be introduced to your bedtime routine with just 10-minute practices per day to prepare you for deep sleep and support your overall health.
Our only goal is to help people overcome sleep-related issues and discomfort they may be experiencing. If you can do that using the information in this article, great! If not, you should consult a healthcare professional to get the help you need.
Sleep Like a Pro
5-day online series
Learn techniques to help you sleep quickly and soundly through the night.