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Catching Good Zzzs: What Are The Best Sleeping Positions?

January 13th, 2023 | 4 min. read

Catching Good Zzzs: What Are The Best Sleeping Positions?
Cara Reedy

Cara Reedy

Licensed Physical Therapist, PT, DPT // CFT-L1 // EW Motion Therapy Meadowbrook/280

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E. Joseph Cossman, entrepreneur and author, once said: “The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep.” Most of us take good sleep for granted until we can no longer seem to have it. You may try staying away from the screens for an hour before bedtime, taking a hot shower, meditation, or even taking melatonin to help your body and mind fall asleep. While these are all excellent bedtime habits to try, you may not know how the position in which you sleep can affect your sleep quality. Some positions are better to sleep in than others, and finding the most comfortable one for you can make all the difference.

This article will discuss the dos and don’ts of sleeping positions and why sleep positioning can be so important. With these tips, you can hopefully find your way back to the deep REM sleep your body needs. Good quality sleep is a huge factor in overall health, which we tell each of our clients at EW Motion Therapy. While our services may not fit your needs, we still want to discuss the best positions to rest and find your way to dreamland. 


Anxiety and sleep can often have a symbiotic relationship. Click here to learn more about how they can affect each other.


Why is your sleep position important? 

You may sleep on your back, but your partner may sleep on their stomach - you both sleep just fine, right? Maybe not - finding a neutral sleep position that relaxes your joints, spine, and muscles and decreases pain is essential. A neutral position during sleep can also facilitate proper blood flow and open airways, reducing snoring and improving oxygen saturation. 


You can likely tell the difference between good quality sleep and poor sleep, and the difference may come down to your position. Sleeping in a position that does not keep your spine neutral can decrease cell replenishment, which is needed every night to get toxins out of our body and help us recover. A bad position can also reduce/impair blood flow to certain areas of your body, including internal organs - if you wake up with numbness or tingling in the middle of the night, you could be experiencing some impingement on certain nerves, but you likely need to shift to improve blood flow.


Dos and don’ts of sleep positions 

So what sleep positions are good, and which ones aren’t? It does depend on the person and other health conditions you may have, but there are some general tips you can follow when choosing a sleep position. 


  1. Don’t sleep on your stomach, especially if you are pregnant. Stomach sleeping can put the spine and joints into an excessive extension, and it also decreases rib expansion, affecting the quality of your breaths. If you are comfortable on your stomach, however, it can be helpful to have pillows under your stomach and pelvis. And, of course, stomach sleeping becomes nearly impossible throughout pregnancy, so we don’t advise trying it.
  2. Don’t sleep on your back if you are pregnant or have sleep apnea. Back sleeping is not ideal for preventing snoring, and if you try to sleep on your back while pregnant, especially during later stages, you will quickly find it uncomfortable. You can always speak to your doctor about any concerns you have.
  3. However, if you don’t have either of those conditions, back sleeping can be great. It can help prevent facial wrinkles and breakouts, and if you experiment with pillows, it can also reduce neck and shoulder pain. 
  4. Overall, side sleeping is generally considered the best. It reduces snoring and puts less pressure on your spine and joints. Sleeping on your left side is especially helpful if you have heartburn or acid reflux due to your stomach position.


Why is sleep so important for recovery? 

Now you know some tips on optimal sleep positions - maybe you should try sleeping on your side tonight. Sleep is not only important for daily rest and rejuvenation, but it is vital for recovery and cell replenishment. We can lose a lot of cells during the day from activity or our body fighting off viruses and other pathogens, and only during sleep can our body take the time to reset. Sleep is also vital for decreasing inflammation in the body and clearing out other junk, so be sure you schedule between six and eight hours every night for the best chance at a full recovery. 


We tell our clients every day at EW Motion Therapy that sleep is one of the best natural medicines in the world. Whether in physical therapy or one of our wellness programs, our team ensures that a good night’s sleep is always part of any recovery protocol. If you are wondering which of our programs best fits your needs, click below to answer the questions in our Program Match Tool.


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