2017-07-12
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Human beings exert a lot of energy in whatever errand they deal with in their daily lives, and the consequences for this is tiredness and exhaustion. However, there's a solution for this, and it is by getting enough rest. But for something so simple, sleep isn't such an easy thing. And a lot of different sleeping positions can be the cause to this.

Everyone needs rest to regain the energy they exerted for the day. But it's not every day that you wake up feeling refreshed from your slumber. Rest is more than sleeping, and it's also ensuring that your body is fully relaxed when sleeping. For this reason, sleeping positions come into play.

When you sleep, your position affects your posture. If the way you sleep doesn't fully support certain parts of your body, you could suffer from different health problems such as spine misalignment. Your posture when sleeping can also weaken areas in your body such as the neck and the back, leading to pain every time you wake up.

Moreover, sleeping positions can significantly affect the quality of your rest. You've probably experienced waking up having weird back pains that weren't there the other night. That's likely because of something that happened while you were sleeping.

In fact, sleeping positions also affect you and your personality. The way you sleep can tell a lot about your life and the way you handle things. The following are multiple sleeping positions, their pros and cons, and how they can affect you and your body.

Back Sleeping

Sleeping in this position is best in supporting your neck, back, and spine. Back sleeping is when you lay in a neutral position with your arms intact. This posture straightens your back and does not exert extra pressure in areas like the neck and spine, and you're less likely to experience unwanted pain when you wake up.

Back sleeping also leaves your head in a posture in which the pillow is intact and can help the mattress do its job in supporting your spine. Moreover, a recent study by Poljsak, et al. reveals that sleeping in your back and leaving your face out in the air can be cosmetically advantageous by producing fewer facial wrinkles.

Their study suggested that “The duration of sleep and the position of the face while resting on a pillow have a negative impact on the facial skin appearance and may lead to the formation of sleep wrinkles.”

However, back sleeping also has its disadvantages, as snoring and sleep apnea are more common when a person is sleeping in this position. As a matter of fact, researchers link back sleeping to sleep apnea. For that reason, doctors discourage this position for individuals who experience this condition.

Instead, they recommend side sleeping because, in lying face-forward, gravity forces the tongue to collapse into the airway, which can block a person's breathing. Meanwhile, side sleeping does not have this kind of effect since gravity cannot pull the tongue.

It's also good to know that sleeping in your back doesn't always mean a good night's sleep. A study which compared the sleeping habits of good sleepers and poor sleepers suggested that poor sleepers spent more time sleeping on their backs. These results show that sleeping on your back can vary by certain factors because sleeping habits may depend on each person.

Side Sleeping

Side sleeping is when you sleep with your torso and legs straight and intact. This position also presents many benefits since it helps decrease acid reflux and helps your spine and neck relax while you sleep. Side sleeping also lessens the chances of snoring because your airways are free from any obstruction. That's why medical practitioners highly recommend side sleeping to those who experience sleep apnea.

Sleeping on your side is also encouraged to pregnant women since it improves heart circulation which is beneficial to both mom and baby. Doctors also recommend side sleeping during pregnancy since back sleeping puts pressure on the back, which can lead to fainting.

However, this sleeping position can also have its drawbacks. If you're sleeping on your side too much, especially on the left side, it puts extra pressure on the stomach and lungs. But alternating sides while you're sleeping in your bed can help prevent organ strain. Moreover, this position can restrict blood flow and press down on the nerves, resulting in numbness over time.

This type of sleeping uses the shoulders to support the body which can constrict shoulder muscles. Resting the head on a single arm can also negatively affects the arm's muscles. Additionally, as previously mentioned, side sleeping can lead to unwanted face wrinkles, since you're pushing half of your face against a pillow.

Stomach Sleeping

Stomach sleeping is a sleeping position in which you lay your stomach on your bed. Amongst all the main sleeping positions discussed so far, sleeping on your stomach is the worst sleeping position. The only good thing about stomach sleeping is to ease snoring, but it's practically bad for everything else.

Eric Olson, M.D., a medical practitioner at Mayo Clinic Center for Sleep Medicine in Minnesota, said, "Stomach sleeping may even be good for you. Facedown keeps your upper airways more open. So if you snore and aren't suffering from neck or back pain, it's fine to try sleeping on your belly."

Sleeping on the tummy flattens the natural curve of the spine, which can lead to unwanted lower back pain. "Stomach-sleeping makes it difficult to maintain a neutral position with your spine. What's more, the pose puts pressure on joints and muscles, which can irritate nerves and lead to pain, numbness, and tingling," says Ken Shannon, a physical therapist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Sleeping all night in this position makes the head turn to one side for hours, which strains your neck over time. But if you must sleep on your stomach, experts suggest to use only one thin pillow and lie face down to allow room to breathe.

Other Sleeping Positions and What They Can Tell About You

There are other sleeping positions which can affect how you function for the day. These sleeping positions are variations from the three top sleeping positions which can describe a person's traits and personality. Professor Chris Idzikowski, director of the Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service, conducted a study with regards to these sleeping positions.

"We are all aware of our body language when we are awake, but this is the first time we have been able to see what our subconscious posture says about us. What's interesting is that the profile behind the posture is often very different from what we would expect," Idzikowski explains.

The Soldier, Freefall, and Starfish

The Soldier position is where a person lies on their back with both arms pinned and intact to their sides. The study conducted by Professor Chris Idzikowski states that only eight percent of individuals execute this post while they sleep. Their general personality is quiet and reserved, and they avoid intense discussions.

The Freefall position is sleeping on your stomach while you wrap your hands around a pillow and turn your head to one side. The study shows that their personalities are sociable, tempered and often rejects criticism. However, only seven percent of people do this position.

The Starfish is sleeping on your back with both arms up. Research suggests that these people are good listeners, and trustworthy but dislikes being the center of attention. Although, only five percent of individuals do the Starfish position.

Idzikowski also studied the health benefits of these positions and concluded that the freefall position is beneficial for digestion, while the soldier and starfish positions are prone to snoring.

According to the study "Lying down flat means that stomach contents can more readily be worked back up into the mouth, while those who lie on their back may end up snoring and breathing less well during the night. Both these postures may not necessarily awaken the sleeper but could cause a less refreshing night's sleep."

The Fetus, Log, and Yearner

The Fetus position, a type of side sleeping, is when people lay by their side and curl in their knees towards the chest. Their general personality is shy, and has a "big heart." The study also reveals that 41 percent of individuals sleep in this manner, making it the most sleeping position.

The Log position, another type of side sleeping, is when you lay by your side with both arms down by your side. The study says that people who sleep like this are easy going, and can be gullible at times. The study found out that 15 percent sleep in this manner.

The Yearner is another variant of side sleeping where a person lays by their side with both arms out in front. They were found to possess a suspicious character and take their time in making decisions, but once they have decided, they won't change their mind. The study states that 13 percent of people sleep like this.

Since these types of sleeping positions are all variations of side sleeping, the health benefits are the same.

Changing Your Position

In a day filled with duties, it's normal that a person might get tired, and sleeping in your fluffy mattress at night is the perfect remedy for that. However, it is important that you keep track of how you sleep as well. Because, quite surprisingly, your sleeping position when you sleep can not only dictate your health but can also tell you about yourself.

Try evaluating yourself about how you sleep at night. Does your personality match with your sleeping position? If so, then that's great! Do you feel any pain when you wake up? Then try experimenting for yourself, or consult your doctor.