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Are you a skydiver, or a soldier or maybe even a starfish? Confused? Don’t be, these are all sleep positions. Most people sleep in one or two positions every night, but like most things, they are not all created equal. Sure whatever position you sleep in may seem best for you as it is the best way of falling asleep, but unfortunately some sleep positions may be less than ideal if you already suffer from certain types of pain or medical conditions.
Everyone has a favourite sleep position, for many there is one favoured position while others are able to mix it up and use a few. However, recent research has found that while there are some positions that can help keep problems from getting worse and may even alleviate them, in other cases sleeping in the same position night after night can itself actually create or exacerbate pre-existing pain, including neck or shoulder problems.
Most of us sleep on our sides, with around 57 percent of test subjects preferring this position. The back is the next most popular, with around 17 percent of people sleeping in this position. This is followed by the stomach with 11 percent. Each of these positions has its positives and negatives, which can all depend on your pre-existing medical conditions, age, weight and size.
Most sleep experts do not recommend sleeping on your stomach as it can strain the neck. While lying on your back can be good for the lower back it may exacerbate digestive and breathing problems as well as increasing the chances of snoring. However, finding the right sleep position is most important when you have a pre-existing medical condition.
Reflux: If you have acid reflux then sleeping on your side will help the condition. Sleeping on your back can increase your problems as the head is not elevated in relation to the stomach, meaning that the gastric contents can bubble up to the oesophagus or back of the throat. In extreme cases tilting the bed so your head is higher than your feet is a good remedy as well.
Back pain: If you suffer from back pain then the general advice would be that you sleep on your back, assuming a sleep position that is similar to standing up straight. Do not bend the knees and, in particular, do not bend your back. The key to sleeping well with back pain is having a mattress that is both supportive and comfortable.
Shoulder pain: If you have shoulder pain then do not sleep on your side. Sleep on your back as this will evenly distribute the weight rather than placing it all on one shoulder.
Not all sleep positions are created equal and if you have pre-existing medical conditions then you need to work out which is the best sleep position for you.
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