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Sleep Positions: Snuggling Your Way into Good Health
When trying out mattresses, you should get into your normal sleep position. Read on to learn just what that might mean for your health—and even your personality.
In 2003, psychologist and sleep researcher Chris Idzikowski surveyed 1,000 Brits and found that their habitual sleep positions tended to correlate with the personality traits they reported. For instance, those who slept with arms raised around their heads were considered more generous, while those stretching their arms out in front tended to be especially steadfast in their decisions, especially if that decision was buying a king-size bed. Further research hasn’t consistently reproduced these results, but it is generally accepted that there’s no one sleep position that’s best for everyone. Below, some pros and cons of the most common sleep styles:
Fetal position: A very common sleeping position, this is not necessarily the healthiest—it prevents deep breathing and can put strain on the knees and neck. But a slightly curved position can prevent or alleviate back pain. A pillow between the knees enhances this position’s benefits and gives you a taste of what it'd be like to wear pants made of clouds.
On your side: A straight spine can be good for people who suffer from back pain, and pregnant women are specifically encouraged to sleep on their left side because it enhances blood flow. (Same goes for people who suffer heartburn—which makes sense when you consider that our organs aren’t symmetrically arranged.) However, side sleeping can put pressure on nerves and cause arm and shoulder pain. Make sure your pillow’s thick so that the weight of your head is fully supported.
On your back: This position effectively puts your spine in neutral, and, provided you have a pillow, it prevents acid reflux. On the other hand, it tends to be the worst for people who snore, experience restless leg syndrome, or fear spiders dropping onto their bellies.
On your stomach: This is one potential solution to snoring—it opens the airway. There are several downsides, though: primarily neck aches, but potentially also pain in joints and muscles that bear pressure they wouldn’t have to in the waking world.