Chronic pain can have a major effect on your overall quality of sleep. According to the National Sleep Association, pain is a main factor in Americans’ sleep debt, with people who suffer from chronic pain experiencing lower sleep quality and higher stress levels.
Physical pain often causes restless nights; with people with chronic pain often struggling to find a comfortable sleeping position. Which sleep position you chose is important, not only because it can help to ease certain types of pain and make it easier to sleep, but also because the wrong sleep position can cause muscle aches or pains.
If you consistently have trouble falling asleep or often wake up feeling sore, it might be time to change the way you’re sleeping. Take a look at the SensorGel infographic below to find your perfect sleeping position, and read on to learn more about how the ways in which you sleep can affect your body and overall health.
Sleeping on your back
Although not the most popular sleeping position, sleeping on your back is the best for overall health, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
When you sleep on your back, your weight is evenly distributed on your spine, which helps to reduce back pain. Additionally, your head, neck and spine are in a neutral position, which eliminates strain and reduces neck pain. This is also the best sleeping position for those who struggle with acid reflux, as it keeps your face turned upward and your head slightly elevated, preventing acid from coming up through your digestive tract.
However, despite the obvious health benefits of sleeping on your back, it isn’t the ideal sleep position if you suffer from sleep apnea. The force of gravity that weighs down on your stomach and throat when you sleep on your back can cause your tongue to block your breathing tube, making snoring worse.
Tip for reducing pain: Sleep with a pillow underneath your knees for proper spine alignment.
Sleeping on your side
Sleeping on your side is another great position for those who suffer from back or neck pain. Side sleepers have the benefit an elongated spine, which helps to reduce both back and neck pain. Additionally, this position keeps the airways open, which both reduces snoring and helps to prevent acid reflux.
If you do sleep on your side, your left side is ideal. Sleeping on the right side can constrict your rib cage and lungs, and also hinders blood circulation. Sleeping on your left side reduces acid reflux and promotes optimal blood flow, making it the preferable choice.
Tip for reducing pain: Sleep with a pillow between your knees to reduce pressure on your hips.
Sleeping on your stomach
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the stomach is the worst sleeping position for overall health. Sleeping on your stomach pulls your stomach and spine into the bed, which places pressure on the curvature of your spine and strain on your back and neck, causing pain. This position also cuts off circulation, which can lead to tingling or numbness in the limbs.
Tip for reducing pain: Sleep with a pillow under your hips to reduce pressure on your lower back.
Sleeping in the fetal position
This is the most common sleeping position. About 41 percent of people sleep in the fetal position. It helps to reduce snoring, and also improves circulation. It’s also the recommended position for sleeping during pregnancy, as it increases blood circulation to the fetus.
However, because the fetal position can be constricting, it’s not the best position for reducing joint or back pain. If you like to sleep in the fetal position, but are worried about joint pain or morning soreness, you should stretch out throughout the night instead of pulling into a tight ball.
Tip for reducing pain: Stretch out instead of constricting your limbs.
The best sleeping position for pain
While the National Sleep Foundation recommends sleeping on your back as the best choice, as it helps reduce pain in your neck, back and spine, and also prevents acid reflux, there are many ways you can sleep to reduce pain. In general, keeping your limbs long helps to increase circulation and prevent cramping, and keeping the spine straight and neutral prevents back and neck pain.
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