Did you know that side sleeping, or sleeping in the lateral position, is by far the most popular way to sleep? It’s true! There are many different sleeping positions, but snoozing on your left or right side is most common.
If you’re among these side sleepers or are trying to change your sleep position for health or better sleep, you may be wondering if this position is right for you. And if it is, what can you do to help ensure a good night’s rest in a way that’s healthy for your body?
In this article, we’ll go over a few tips for getting better sleep on your side, as well as outline the pros and cons of choosing this position.
Let’s get started!
Benefits of Side Sleeping
In the past, it was thought that sleeping on your back was the optimal position for health. However, in recent years, it’s been discovered that sleeping on your side is beneficial as well.
Now, as with any position, it’s important to do your best to keep your body in alignment at all times. You want your spine to remain in the proper position while you sleep to avoid long-term damage.
But if you sleep on your side with correct alignment, you will see benefits such as reduced lower back pain, better gut health, and a decrease in snoring. And if you think snoring is no big deal, think again.
Snoring is a sign that your airway becomes obstructed while you’re sleeping. If you’re a serious snorer, you could have sleep apnea, which can lead to diabetes, heart attack, and cognitive issues down the line.
Is the Left or Right Side Better?
Believe it or not, the side you choose to sleep on makes a difference!
To get the most out of side sleeping, it’s thought that sleeping on the left side of your body is the way to go. While on your left side, your organs are able to perform optimally, more efficiently ridding themselves of toxins.
That being said, don’t force yourself to sleep on your left side if you find it uncomfortable! Right side sleeping will still offer you the benefits of decreased back pain and snoring.
You may also find that you switch sides throughout the night, this is fine! The only position you should try your best to avoid is sleeping on your stomach, as it’s tough on your back and organs.
Disadvantages of Side Sleeping
While sleeping on your side offers many benefits, there are a few downsides to consider. It’s important to remember that there are downsides to any sleeping position, so do your research and weigh the pros and cons of each.
If your chin is tucked into your chest while you sleep, you might find that you experience neck pain during the day. Again, sleeping in proper alignment with your head back and your chin straight will fix this issue.
The main disadvantage of side sleeping, however, is that it can cause shoulder pain, especially if you don’t roll to your other side periodically during the night.
For example, if you sleep solely on your left side, your left shoulder is prone to collapsing into the mattress, which puts you out of alignment and can cause joint pain.
Best Mattress for Side Sleeping
To avoid the possible disadvantages of side sleeping, try a firm mattress and pillow to help keep your head, shoulders, and back in alignment.
An extremely soft mattress may sound appealing in theory, but is probably the worst choice in terms of support and keeping your body in the proper position to avoid pain. It will feel comfortable at first, but your joints will likely collapse into the mattress as you sleep, meaning you will wake up feeling sore.
Now, that doesn’t mean you should go out and purchase the hardest mattress you can find. You can go too far in the other direction as well! An overly firm mattress will be uncomfortable, diminishing your quality of sleep and, you guessed it, putting your body in a bad position.
Your mattress should be soft enough to form to your body shape but firm enough to support you. There are mattresses made for side sleepers, and you can read this review to learn more, but the only way to know for sure which mattress is best is to try them out!
3 Tips for Side Sleepers
Whether you’re about to try side sleeping for the first time for the health benefits or have been snoozing on your side for years, it’s important to keep a few things in mind as you drift off. By focusing on the following tips for side sleeping, you will get all of the benefits while avoiding any possible drawbacks.
- Sleep on your left side, if possible. While lying down, be conscious of the positioning of your body. Your ears should be directly above your shoulders, your chin in a neutral position – not tucked into your chest or pointing upward.
- If you have lower back pain, try sleeping with a firm pillow in between your legs. This will keep your spine in better alignment, as your knees and hips will be less likely to collapse into the mattress.
- Your arms and hands should be parallel with your sides, away from your head and neck, while your legs are slightly bent at the knees to relieve pressure on your back.
Choosing Which Sleeping Position Is Right for You
As you now know, side sleepers receive many benefits. However, regardless of the sleeping position you choose, your main goal should be to keep your body in the best alignment possible.
If you do this, you will notice that you get much more restful, rejuvenating sleep.
Do plenty of research on the pros and cons of each position to decide which is right for you, as the benefits differ for each. But at the end of the day, comfort is king when it comes to sleep.
Any potential advantages will be completely negated if you’re unable to sleep because you’re trying to force yourself into an uncomfortable position.
Looking for more tips on improving your sleep and overall health? Check out the rest of our blog!