Unless you’re a wild sleeper that tosses, twists, and turns all night, almost everyone has a favorite position to sleep in. Even if it’s not a conscious decision, there’s a good chance that you end up in a specific position for a good portion of the night.
Unfortunately for many, they need to do lower back exercises or other stretches first thing in the morning to relieve a little pain. Others have a favorite position but wake up for no apparent reason throughout the night.
While it has traditionally been recommended that you sleep on your back for a good night’s sleep, there may be some benefit to sleeping on your side when it’s done correctly. There are many different ways to sleep, but if your favorite position is on one side or the other, we’ve got a few tips that you may want to consider.
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First and Foremost, Do It Right
Side sleepers generally snore less, and many have reported reduced lower back and joint pain. However, to experience those benefits, you need to do it in a way that promotes proper body alignment.
As such, you need to make sure that you have the right “equipment” first off.
1. A medium-firm mattress
As a side sleeper, the main concern is that there can be a lot of strain on your neck, shoulders, and hips. The right mattress provides a good ratio between sink and support and morphs to the curvature of your back. This helps you stop gambling with your sleep since it creates less “blank space” between the bed and your back and effectively supports your spine.
2. Get the best pillow that you can
Many traditional pillows are designed solely for back sleepers, and when you roll to your side, they leave extra space between it and your neck, causing sleep and pain issues. For this reason, it’s essential to get the best pillow for side sleepers. You should also consider investing in a firm pillow to place between your knees for better spinal alignment.
3. Train your body to sleep in the proper position
Sleeping correctly isn’t something that many of us are taught. That said, here are a few pointers to ensure you’re sleeping in the appropriate position:
- Align your ears with your shoulders while keeping your chin in a neutral position (avoid the tendency of tucking it into your chest).
- Keep your arms and hands parallel to your sides.
- Place a firm pillow earlier between your knees.
- Reduce pressure on your back by lifting your knees slightly up toward your chest.
Regardless of your mattress and the two pillow method, the biggest thing to remember is to keep your spine in a neutral position when trying to fall asleep. To accomplish this, relax and ensure your body isn’t twisted and align your head between your shoulders.
Though you’ll probably move a bit throughout the night, starting in this neutral position can help train your body and subconscious to do it more often.
5. Bonus Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep
Weighted blankets are popular among all types of sleepers, and they’re believed to help reduce anxiety and promote better sleep. You should also turn off the laptop, stop gaming on your smartwatch, and put away the tablet and other electronics at least 30-minutes before bedtime.
These devices all emit short-wavelength enriched light, which can reduce your body’s natural production of melatonin. In turn, this may decrease feelings of sleepiness and could minimize the amount of time you slip into REM and slow-wave sleep, which are vital parts of your sleep cycle.
Sleeping on your side is also thought to be good for your digestive system, and when done correctly, it can reduce some common back and neck pain issues.
The Bottom Line
If you are looking for better ways to sleep, do not hesitate to sleep on your side. There are many benefits of side sleeping that can improve how well-rested you are in the morning. Use the tips above to help you get started.