What Are The Best Sleep Positions? Probably Not What You're Using — INFOGRAPHIC
It's no secret that having good sleep hygiene is often the deciding factor on how well rested you feel when you wake up in the morning. Part of all that is what position you sleep in — so what are the best sleep positions for your health? In order to help us hash through all the research on the subject out there, UK-based online furniture retailer Home Arena put together an infographic walking us through the pros and cons of four common sleep positions. Spoiler: You probably don't sleep in the best one. Most people don't. Uh… whoops? I guess?
So what is that absolute best one? In a move that surprises probably no one, sleeping on your back, even though only about 14 percent of Americans use this position. According to several sleep experts speaking with Medical Daily, back sleeping keeps your head, neck, and spine aligned without adding any extra pressure or weird curves to your body; furthermore, since this position elevates your head and keeps your stomach below your esophagus, it also helps prevent acid reflux. However, it's worth noting that if you snore or have sleep apnea, back sleeping is a no-no — it'll just exacerbate the problem.
I should probably point out here that I usually sleep in the absolute worst position — on my stomach. Why is this one so awful for you? Because of the ways in which you have to contort yourself to breathe from such a position. Sleeping on your stomach means that your face is pressed into the pillow; if you want to breathe (which, unless you are undead, most of us do), you have to crane your neck in some unhelpful ways to do it. Austin-based chiropractor Cynthia Vaughn told Business Insider in 2014 that sleeping in this manner can strain the vertebrae at the bottom of your skull after a mere 15 minutes. Yikes.
Of course, the big question that arises from all of this is, how do you control what position you sleep in if you're kind of, y'know, unconscious? Good news: It is, in fact, possible to train yourself to sleep in a different position. It's not easy, but through a combination of making sure you put yourself into the position you're trying to teach yourself to sleep in before you drift off and rearranging yourself if you wake up and find that you've shifted out of it, you might be able to give yourself some new habits. Apparently it takes about two weeks to do so, so be prepared for a fight.
Check out the full infographic below: