Are you a side sleeper? If you’re not a side sleeper and you’re considering switching sleep positions, you’ve come to the right place.
Sleeping on your side has great health benefits, and it’s a popular sleeping position. Yet if you don’t do it right, you can have aches and pains you don’t want.
Take a look below for more information about the best side sleeping position and other vital tips for a good night’s rest.
Who Sleeps on Their Side?
Not everyone sleeps on their side. In fact, a lot of doctors recommend sleeping on your back because it keeps your spine aligned and it reduces pressure, which can lead to compression and associated conditions. Sleeping on your back can also help relieve tension headaches and reduce wrinkles or creases on your face.
Yet many people still choose a side sleeping position, especially as they age. Adults with a higher body mass index also tend to like sleeping on their side better.
If you’re a side sleeper, it’s okay. There are health benefits to side sleeping, just as there are to sleeping on your back. Research shows you snore less if you sleep on your side, and it also decreases joint pain. These benefits can help you treat long-term health conditions like fibromyalgia or sleep apnea.
Side Sleeping Position: How to Train Your Body
If you want to get a full night’s rest and you’re convinced sleeping on your side is the way to do it, then use these steps to help train your body to stay on your side while you’re sleeping.
Practice the best side sleeping position during the day so you know what it feels like when you’re trying to go to sleep at night. Line up your ears with your shoulders. Try to keep your chin in a neutral position, because tucking it down can cause neck pain.
Lift your knees toward your chest, bending them slightly. Rest your arms and hands on the mattress, below your face and chin. If it’s comfortable for you, keep your arms parallel with your body.
Start out on your left side. That side will help your body’s digestion and release the most toxins while you sleep.
It’s common to move around when you sleep on your side, and you may not stay on the same side all night. Try out the right side as well, comparing the comfort differences of the two sides. Be sure you’re not sleeping on your arm.
Equipment You Need for Side Sleeping
Use a firm pillow. You should only need one for your head. Be sure to use a pillow that offers enough support for your head and neck.
You’ll also need another pillow for between your knees. This helps align the hips and knees, as well as your spine. Because you’ll be sleeping with your knees slightly bent and pulled toward your chest, a pillow will help reduce any joint pain and reduce pressure on your lower back.
Lie on a mattress that’s medium-firm, so that your body has enough support. The best mattress for a side sleeper is one that offers good support.
A mattress that’s too soft isn’t going to have support for your joints during the night. However, a mattress that’s too firm won’t help you sleep. It won’t have enough give for your joints and you won’t have the support you need for a comfortable night’s sleep.
Tracking Your Sleep
How can you tell if it’s working? During your regular slumber you’re not awake to figure out whether you have the best side sleeping posture.
There are many ways to track your sleep, although tracking the position isn’t as easy. If you have any type of fitness tracker bracelet, you can explore the settings and find out if it’s optimized for tracking sleep. Use an app on your smartphone to control the settings and change alarms.
Some smartphones can also track sleep, from the iPhone’s Sleep app to similar Android alternatives.
If you’re more serious about tracking your sleep, then other gadgets might be helpful. The Dreem headband is an EEG monitor to help identify the stages of your sleep. It can even be programmed to help you sleep.
Bedside sleep monitors use echolocation (like bats do) to track your movements and sleep patterns. It provides enough details to help your doctor make recommendations for your sleep health.
Some mattresses can track your sleep. They can even track two people’s sleeping patterns at the same time.
There’s another new product in the work from researchers at the University of Massachusetts: smart pajamas to help track your sleep patterns. These have sensors built into the fabric that monitor movement and breathing patterns to analyze your sleep.
Good Sleep Hygiene
Sleep is vital for good health. Besides your sleeping position and mattress, you can take steps to ensure you’re getting a good night’s sleep every night.
Chief among the best sleep practices is staying on schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night, and wake up at the same time every day. This includes weekends. Staying on the same schedule helps your body stay healthy.
Be sure you’re putting the right food and drink inside your body. Don’t have caffeine or alcohol right before bed. The same goes for large meals.
Stop using screens 2 hours before bedtime. That includes the TV and your phone. It can help to leave those items in another room, so your bedroom doesn’t tempt you to use screens right before you go to sleep.
Be sure your room is relaxing. Having dimmable light switches or lamps you can use for lower lighting can help your eyes and brain adjust to upcoming bedtime. You can also use relaxing sounds or music to help signal your body that it’s time to sleep.
Get enough exercise during the day. This helps your body use up energy so it’s tired at the end of the day.
Be a Sleep Pro
With all the tips here, you’ll be a pro at relaxing in no time. Try a side sleeping position as well as new sleep equipment and sleep hygiene habits to help you get a better night’s rest.
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