There is no denying the fact that your sleeping position can significantly impact the quality of your sleep. It will not just affect the comfort level that you will experience. It can also play a significant role in your health.
Certain sleeping positions can alleviate specific health issues like snoring, wrinkle development and heartburn. Based on these claims, many health experts conclude that the best sleeping position would be sleeping on your back. But why and how to sleep on your back? This article will help you figure it out!
Why You Should Sleep on Your Back
Have you been sleeping on your back for as long as you can remember? If yes, congratulations as you may have already been experiencing these benefits.
If you are one of the few people who is practicing other sleeping positions and you are curious as to the many health benefits that back sleepers experience. Below are some of the great reasons why you should sleep on your back:
Reduced Back and Neck Pain
If there’s one thing that all back sleepers would agree, it is the fact that sleeping on the back is excellent for both the spine and neck because this position keeps your back straight and prevent it from being contorted uncomfortably.
It is the only sleeping position that can put your spine in proper alignment with minimal need for pillows or other sleeping accessories. Because of this, you will also feel minimal to no neck and back pain.
Lesser Pressure on Muscles
Another benefit of sleeping on your back is it helps to relieve the muscle tension that you would usually feel on your neck after a long night of sleep. Aside from the neck, your arm and shoulder muscles are spared from this unnecessary pressure as well.
This does not just reduce the muscle pain that you will experience. It also helps you enjoy a good night’s sleep.
Fewer Wrinkles on Face and Neck
A lot of skin care experts claim that wrinkle formation may be facilitated by the friction between your skin and your pillow which may take place in specific sleeping positions.
When you sleep on your side, there is a chance that you will have what they call as sleep lines. These are the fine lines or wrinkles that along the temples, and around the mouth, eyes and lateral cheek area. Since your skin is in direct contact with the pillow, there is a tendency for you to develop more sleep lines on the side where you usually sleep on. This is also true when you sleep on your stomach.
This goes the same with your neck. When constant pressure is applied to a particular part of the skin, collagen breaks down and will ultimately, increase the risk of developing unwanted lines in the neck area.
When you sleep on your back, your face won’t be rubbing against the pillow which eliminates such risks.
Less Face Swelling
Do you usually wake up with puffy eyes and swollen face? The culprit may be your sleeping position. If you sleep on your side or stomach, you are prone to experiencing this because these sleeping positions can subject your cheeks, face, and eyes to unnecessary pressure. This pressure causes fluid in the body to pool into the areas of your face which causes it to swell temporarily.
When you sleep on your back, these occurrences are significantly minimized.
Prevents Acid Reflux
As mentioned, sleeping on your back is the only position that helps you maintain the proper alignment of your spine. When the spine is aligned correctly, acid reflux can be prevented. Aside from the fact that your head is higher than your tummy, it also removes the unwanted pressure on your stomach which usually causes the reflux.
To ensure this, you should use a pillow to elevate your head and keeps your stomach below your esophagus to prevent the acid or food from coming up the digestive tract.
How to Train Yourself to Sleep on Your Back (Yes, You Can!)
Is it possible to change our sleeping position? Yes, of course! But you should understand the fact that you can’t achieve this thing overnight or by merely wanting it to change. You need to exert extra effort and attention to the way you sleep if you’re going to change your sleeping position.
Below are some of the common ways on how to sleep on your back:
Use pillows to position your body correctly.
This sleeping position can take some getting used to, and that is why only 8% of our population practice this sleeping position. You can do that with the use of strategically-placed pillows.
To help you feel more comfortable, you can place pillows in different parts of your body—under your arms, under your knees (for back support), and at the sides of your torso. The latter will act similar to that of bumpers which will keep your body in place and prevent you from going back to your original sleeping positions.
Do the starfish position.
This is called as such because it requires you to move like a starfish. It requires you to lie down flat with your head face up, and your legs and arms spread wide. This position helps you to ease to your new sleeping position and at the same time, relieve pain and pressure on different parts of your body.
But please practice this position in moderation when you sleep with a partner as this will not leave him enough room, and he may find it a bit annoying.
As I have said, you cannot change your sleeping position overnight. It takes time, patience and extra effort. But if you are committed to correcting your sleeping position, you can surely do it every time. Just make sure that you don’t give up and be persistent in repositioning yourself when you find yourself sleeping in your old position.
How to Sleep on Your Back Comfortably
To help you get the hang of sleeping on your back, here are a few extra tips that can help you sleep comfortably:
Choose the right mattress for back problems.
We have talked about how sleeping on your back can alleviate back pain. But if you are dealing with back issues, you may still feel some pain or discomfort when you sleep. The key here is to choose the right mattress for your condition.
The right mattress can evenly distribute your weight and will, therefore, remove any pressure on your spine and back. The key here is to go for a medium firm or medium soft mattress as this one can adequately support and fill the hollow part of your back. A mattress that is too hard won’t fill the back part evenly while a mattress that is too soft won’t be able to provide any support at all.
Invest in the right pillow.
One issue you would have to deal with when you sleep on your back is neck support. This is because it is at risk of hyperextending or fall back unnaturally. With the right pillow, you can prevent this and at the same time, keep your spine straight and stress-free.
Same with the mattress for back problems, you need to go for a pillow that is neither too firm nor too soft. If possible, go for orthopedic pillows which feature a ridge shape that offers the right height and support for your neck and at the same time, cradles your head so it won’t hyperextend.
Place a pillow under your knees.
If you are new to this sleeping position, there’s a high chance that you would feel pain or discomfort in your lower back area. To relieve this pain, it is recommended that you place a pillow under your knees. This can help maintain proper alignment of your back.
Do some light stretching.
Another great way to avoid feeling this unwanted pressure is to perform some light stretches a few minutes before you go to bed. When you sit all day, you will suffer from tight hip flexors and hamstrings. This can be decreased by doing a stretching exercise called pigeon.
To know how to do this exercise, watch this video:
Never eat a heavy meal before going to bed.
Regardless if you are a back sleeper and you are protected from acid reflux, you should still never consume a heavy, greasy meal before you go to sleep. This will cause abdominal and digestive discomfort that will prevent you from sleeping well at night.
To avoid this, you should eat your last meal two hours before your scheduled bedtime.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sleeping on Your Back
If you still want to know more about this sleeping position, here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions about it:
What can I do to prevent myself from switching back to my old sleeping position?
First of all, I would just like to tell you that it is normal to tend to go back to your sleeping position since old habits die hard so don’t beat yourself up for it. But of course, there are a few things that you can do to minimize these occurrences.
For one, you can do the tennis ball therapy. To do this, you need to wear bottoms that have pockets where you can place a tennis ball in. When you roll to your side, the tennis ball in your pocket will make such sleeping position too uncomfortable for you, and you will inevitably be forced to stay sleeping on your back. Do this regularly, and you can get surely used to sleeping on your back after a few months.
Why do I find it difficult to sleep on my back?
If you have been sleeping on your side or your stomach for years, it is no longer surprising that you will find it a bit difficult to sleep on your back because it does not come naturally for you. And of course, anything that does not come as a habit for you can be difficult for you.
Don’t worry—give this new sleeping position enough time and lots of attention and you can get used to it eventually. But still, you have to understand the fact that this change will require an adjustment period that may take weeks to months.
Is it a good idea to sleep on my back when I am pregnant?
I have said that sleeping on your back is the healthiest sleeping position there is but there is an exception to this rule. This rule does not apply to pregnant women.
If you are pregnant, it is best that you avoid this position as it can be dangerous for you and your baby. Since your weight is now distributed unevenly and differently, it may decrease blood circulation to your heart which will put you and your baby at risk.
Moreover, the weight of the baby may place pressure on different parts of your body which may result in breathing issues, backaches, digestive problems, low blood pressure, and hemorrhoids.
You will not feel it yet during your first trimester, but it can be an issue on your second and third trimesters, so it is best that you practice switching to side sleeping as early as your first trimester.
According to Healthline, the best sleeping position for pregnant would be sleeping on your side, your left side to be more specific.
Sleeping on your back is not as easy as it may seem but rest assured—it is worth it. Use the vast array of health and skin benefits that you can experience as a motivation to quickly and effortlessly transition to this sleeping position, and you can learn how to sleep on your back (and reap its benefits!) in no time.