As you attempt to fall asleep, do you find yourself struggling to drift off? Well, when you’re trying to sleep, you might not be thinking about the position you’re lying in. Some people sleep on their backs and others sleep on their stomachs. Then there are those who prefer the fetal position while others spread across the entire bed. While your sleeping position varies, you might want to think again about your favorite sleeping position because it might have repercussions for your health.

What’s the story?

During sleep your brain processes information and experiences to create new memories, your muscles and joints recover from constant use during the day and you produce increased amounts of growth hormone to boost cell renewal and tissue repair.

However, while you are asleep, your voluntary muscles become paralyzed. This is to prevent you from acting out your dreams and aids muscle relaxation, but it could lead to aches and strains if you are lying in an awkward position.

The effect of your sleeping position on your health

One of the most common sleeping positions is on your side. If you lay on your right side it has been shown to increase the risk of indigestion and heartburn. However, if you sleep on your left side, it allows trapped air to be released. You might find yourself letting out a burp when this happens.

If you sleep on your stomach, your head has no choice but to tilt to one side. This can then cause stress on your spine. It can also compromise the natural curves of the spine, which means you’re more likely to wake up with neck, arm, shoulder or back pain. And if the height of your pillows cause your head to twist upward, it can place further stress on the ligaments in your neck.

Sleeping partially on your front and side is a neutral recovery position because you’re half on your side, half on your front and your knee is tucked in. This position is great for keeping your airway open and is the least likely position to lead to snoring and joint problems. That is, if you don’t raise your top leg too far, causing your spine to twist and lead to back aches.

Lastly, sleeping on your back is often recommended if you have neck, shoulder or back problems cause it is safe for the spine. If you need added support, use a small pillow behind your knees. The downside to sleeping on your back is that it puts you at a higher chance for snoring. This can also trigger obstructive sleep apnea because your airway is blocked.

To learn more about appropriate sleeping positions and sleep apnea, contact Dr. Mayoor Patel in Atlanta, GA.