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The 5 Best and Worst Sleeping Positions

The 5 Best and Worst Sleeping Positions

Some days, we wake up feeling limber and well rested, and other days we wake up with aches and pains. These differences can be attributed to our sleeping positions. While it’s difficult to control our sleeping habits once we’re asleep, it’s possible to prime yourself for a good night’s sleep by starting out in the right position. Similarly, bad positions can have a negative effect on your health and the quality of your sleep.

Here are the 5 most common sleeping positions, ranked from best to worst by award-winning Colorado chiropractor Dr. Aaron Casselman.

1. On your side

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    Many specialists consider sleeping on your side to be the best option. It doesn’t strain any parts of your body, and is comfortable for people who experience pain in their joints throughout the day. The most common variation of this sleeping style is to sleep with the legs bent slightly, bringing the knees in towards the chest. Curling slightly like this is especially comfortable for people who have a bad back, because bringing the knees up and in can help stretch the muscles in your back. As long as the position isn’t overdone (see item number 4!), this slight stretch can ease an aching back without contributing or adding to any pre-existing back problems.

    2. On your back with your arms at your sides

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      This position alleviates tension in the spine and neck (as long as you don’t overdo it with the pillows). Make sure, when you’re on your back, that your head is supported but not tilted too much. Too much of an angle can cause neck pain, which defeats the purpose of this sleeping position! The downside to this position is that it is often accompanied by snoring. This sleeping position is also not recommended for people with sleep apnea. Sleeping on your back also has beauty benefits. For instance, sleeping on your back keeps your face away from your pillow, which can have dirt and oils from your skin on it, which can contribute to acne. Also, sleeping with your face away from the sheets can help keep wrinkles at bay.

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      3. On your back with your arms raised

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        Also known as the “starfish position,” this has the same benefits as sleeping on your back with your arms at your sides. However, it can lead to snoring, and having your arms raised above your head for a considerable length of time can lead to shoulder pain in the morning. If you often sleep like this, you might attribute aches in your shoulders and upper back to the way you’re sleeping.

        4. Curled up

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          Some people prefer sleeping on their sides, but instead of slightly bending their legs, they bring them all the way to their chests. This fetal position can feel comfortable at first, but it can cause neck pain and restrict breathing throughout the night. This can also be too much of a stretch in your back, which could lead to back pain in the morning. If you do like to stretch your back out, consider doing some stretches before bed. This might help you stay away from this sleeping position.

          5. On your stomach

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            This is widely considered to be the worst position to sleep in. It strains the neck and can cause serious pain in the morning. Sleeping on your stomach can also restrict breathing because the mouth and nose are both partially covered by the pillow. This position can also strain the vertebrae at the base of the neck after just a few minutes — imagine what hours of sleeping in that position can do!

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            Featured photo credit: z Q via flickr.com

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            Maggie Heath

            Maggie is a passionate writer who blogs about communication and lifestyle on Lifehack.

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            Last Updated on December 9, 2019

            5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

            5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

            Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

            Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

            Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

            1. Get Rationally Optimistic

            Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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            This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

            In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

            The result: no more mental stress.

            2. Unplug

            Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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            How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

            It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

            Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

            3. Easy on the Caffeine

            Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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            Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

            4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

            That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

            How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

            • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
            • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
            • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

            While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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            5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

            This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

            The result: mental stress will be gone!

            So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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            Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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