Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 11, 2021

The Best Way to Sleep to Relieve the 7 Most Common Ailments

The Best Way to Sleep to Relieve the 7 Most Common Ailments

We sleep for about 9,000 days or 210,000 hours throughout our lifetime, and guess what? Many of us do it wrong!

Yes, there’s a right way and a wrong way to sleep. Sleeping in the wrong position can cause everything from lower back pain and frozen shoulder to wrinkles, neck pain and a stiff jaw.

Here are 7 of the most common ailments caused by sleeping in the wrong position and the best way to sleep.

1. Lower Back Pain

If your lower back is bothering you when you wake up in the morning, your sleep position may have something to do with it.

The first thing the Cleveland Clinic suggests you do, is get yourself a firm mattress that doesn’t sag, with a firm box spring.[1]

Next, choose a position that best mimics the natural curvature in your spine. Positions to try include sleeping on your back with a lumbar roll under the small of your back and a pillow under your knees.

Advertising

Another position to try is sleeping on your side with your knees slightly bent. When sleeping on your side you may also want to try putting a pillow between your knees. You do not want to pull your knees all the way up to your chest in the fetal position.

The worst position for your lower back is sleeping on your stomach. If you’ve been doing it for awhile, it may be hard to get out of the habit, but it will be well worth the effort!

2. Neck Pain

If you have neck pain, the two best positions to sleep in are on your back or on your side.

However, that comes with a caveat. According to Harvard, you’ll also need to select the right pillow.[2] The best pillow is a down pillow the conforms to the shape of your neck. Alternatively, you may also want to try a pillow with memory foam that conforms to the shape of your neck and back.

Regardless, you don’t want to use a pillow that is too high or stiff, placing your head or neck in an unnatural position and causing it to flex throughout the night.

3. Heart Burn or Acid Reflux

Fall asleep in the wrong position and stomach acids can slip into your esophagus, causing major heart burn. The worst positions for acid reflux are sleeping on your back, your stomach or your right side.

Advertising

That leaves sleeping on your left side as the best position to avoid sleep time heart burn. Why does it work? Because sleeping on your left side keeps the junction of the stomach and the esophagus above the level of the gastric acid. This prevents the stomach acid from leaking into the esophagus, which is the cause of the “burn” and discomfort.

This video by Dr. Mandell provides a good visual explanation:

4. Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Do snoring and sleep apnea really impact your health? You bet they do.

Having your sleep interrupted throughout the night over extended periods of time could have long term health implications, as well as leave you constantly tired throughout the day.

Snoring and sleep apnea are typically caused by collapsed airways, leading to pauses in breathing. Both sleeping on your side or on your stomach can help your airways stay open and reduce snoring and mild apnea.

However, because sleeping on your stomach is so bad for your lower back, I’d recommend first seeing if sleeping on your side will solve the problem.

Advertising

5. Wrinkles

You know when you wake up with lines and creases across your cheeks after sleeping with the side of your face on your pillow? Well it may not be temporary after all. They’re called sleep wrinkles and research has shown they can affect your forehead, lips and cheeks![3]

Sleep wrinkles are cause by sleeping on your stomach or your side, which causes facial distortions. To avoid facial distortions while sleeping, try sleeping on your back – it’s just one more reason sleeping on your back is preferred.

6. Shoulder Pain

Ever wake up and you can barely move your shoulder? You may not want to put the blame on your game of squash or workout from the day before. The culprit maybe the way you sleep.

Specifically, if sleep on your side, the weight of your body on your shoulder, or of your head on your upper arm places a lot of stress on your shoulder’s tendons, causing inflammation and stiffness.

Shifting to your opposite side, may just cause pain in your other shoulder over time. One again, the easiest solution is to sleep on your back.

7. Jaw Pain

Ever wake up in the morning with a sore jaw? Chances are, you’ve either been grinding your teeth, or you’ve been sleeping on the side of your face causing.

Advertising

If you’re grinding your teeth, you should definitely see your dentist and see if he can make a mouth guard, to help protect your teeth. Regardless, sleeping on your side puts additional pressure on the joints of your jaw and the jaw itself. Once again, the solution is to sleep on your back!

The Bottom Line

Getting a good night’s sleep is hard enough. Having to worry about it causing you pain should be the least of your worries.

Follow the advice above and see if it helps you avoid some of the unintended perils of sleeping in the wrong position.

Featured photo credit: Charles Deluvio via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Marc Felgar

Marc Felgar is an aging, health & senior care expert focused on improving the lives of mature adults.

The Common Causes of Sleep Problems (And How to Fix Them Fast) The Best Way to Sleep to Relieve the 7 Most Common Ailments 19 Fun Activities for Seniors to Stay Active Physically and Mentally Getting Fit Over 40: The 7 Best Workout Routines for Beginners 6 Ways to Care For Your Aging Parents From a Distance

Trending in Injury & Rehab

1 The Best Way to Sleep to Relieve the 7 Most Common Ailments 2 5 Ways to Lessen Back Pain 3 10 Best Back Support Pillows That All Desk Workers Need 4 If You Belong to The 9 to 5 Working Class, You Need This 5 12 Best Back Strengthening Exercises to Relieve Lower Back Pain

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 11, 2021

5 Ways to Lessen Back Pain

5 Ways to Lessen Back Pain

As you’ve aged throughout the years, you’ve probably noticed a significant increase in the amount of back pain you experience on a semi-regular basis. While some discomfort is inevitable as you grow older, there are measures you can take to minimize the stress you put on your back throughout your day. The worst thing you can do for back pain is ignore it or try to “tough it out”; you’ll just end up doing more harm than good. If your back pain starts to become so debilitating that getting around becomes a hassle, you need to do something about it before it’s much too late.

Stop Slouching

You’ve heard this ever since you were a kid at the dinner table: Sit up straight! Slouching causes undue and avoidable stress on your neck, spine, shoulders, and neck – and it makes us look like cavemen. Of course, sitting up straight takes a conscious effort at all times – especially when watching TV or clicking around on the Internet. Along with the various exercises that can help improve your posture, you should get in the habit of consciously sitting up tall with your shoulders square. Hopefully, after a while it will become second nature!

Advertising

Assess Your Sleep Situation

If you spend sleepless nights tossing and turning in bed trying to get comfortable, your mattress might be the problem. There are many factors that go into choosing the right mattress, such as the amount of support you need as well as whether you sleep on your back, side, or stomach. While there are definitely measures you can take to avoid back pain, you can only do so much. Make sure that when you lay down each night, you’re getting the comfort you deserve.

Get Active

I previously mentioned the importance of exercising, but it’s not enough to just stretch a little bit and assume your back pain will just melt away. A 30-minute a day regimen of low-impact exercise, such as walking, swimming, or practicing yoga, could be all that you need to make a difference in the severity of your back pain. Not only that, but you’ll probably end up losing a little bit of weight, which in turn will put less stress on your back. However, like I said, don’t just think that you can laze around for the rest of the day just because you’ve done your workout routine for the day. Being active means staying active. Do everything you can to avoid long periods of sitting or laying around if you don’t want your back pain to return.

Advertising

Herbal Remedies

The reason herbal remedies is so far down on the list is because I don’t want you to think you can simply take a couple pills and feel right as rain. And I definitely don’t want you to believe that over the counter pain pills actually do anything more than mask your symptoms. The reason these remedies are called supplements is because they do just that: supplement the other actions you need to take in order to alleviate back pain. Anti-inflammatory supplements such as ginger, turmeric, and capsaicin come in creams, pills, or even teas, and can give you the comfort needed to take further steps toward a healthier lifestyle.

Meditate and Be Mindful

It sounds cheesy, but meditation can create a certain harmony between your mind and your body that will certainly help out when you’re feeling frustrated due to back pain. Although the jury is still out on whether or not meditation actually alleviates physical symptoms, it does allow you to be more mindful of how you go about your life on a daily basis.

Advertising

As mentioned before, being mindful simply means making a conscious effort to care for your back at all times. It means avoiding strenuous movements and activities, as well as lifting objects that are heavier than you know you should be lifting. Remaining conscious of the fact that your body “isn’t what it used to be” can be tough to do, but it’s definitely better than being laid up in a hospital bed!

Featured photo credit: Twitter 365 Project – Day 30 / lu_lu via farm4.staticflickr.com

Advertising

Read Next