The statistics show that most people are side sleepers. If you are one of them, you are a lucky one because it is proven that side sleeping is the best for our health for many reasons. First of all, your spine, head, and back will be properly aligned during the night, which means you won’t experience pain in those areas in the morning. Most side sleepers say that lying on the side is the best for neck pain.
Second of all, you won’t be subjected to sleep apnea, snoring, heartburn, or some other problems like dry mouth or bloating. How good this position is, says the fact that pregnant women should only sleep on their left side, because that’s the only way to be sure their babies will get enough oxygen and nutrition. So if for any reason you want to learn how to sleep on your side, this is a place you need to be. Just keep on reading.
Benefits of Sleeping on Your Side
The truth is, sleeping on the back was considered to be the most healthy way of spending the night, up until recently, but the experts came to a conclusion side sleeping is, after all, a much better choice. There are many benefits that should make you at least wanna try it.
You should know that having a mattress for side sleepers is a must given it will provide you with the right support and appropriate level of comfort. But even if you don’t, side sleeping will make your whole body stay in the right neutral position spine wise. This is very important because that way you can avoid feeling pain in your lower back area or your joints, and really have a good night’s rest, the one where your whole body truly relaxes. And if you wonder what side to lay on for heartburn, this is definitely it, only that way you won’t have a feeling like the food from your stomach is getting back up.
This sleeping position can also be very helpful if you have a problem with snoring or apnea, as we already mentioned. That’s because this body orientation will allow you to have a better airflow, and your airways won’t be blocked. When it comes to the matter of pregnancy, doctors say that back sleeping can be very dangerous since it can cause breathing problems, and that can lead to low blood pressure and bad circulation, which might affect the baby’s health. Because of that, as well as the fact laying on a stomach is impossible, they suggest pregnant women should sleep on one side.
As all that wasn’t enough, sleeping in this natural way will help remove toxins from your body, which is in general what’s happening during the night, but this way, you will be able to get rid of 25 percent more of these harmful substances. Thanks to that, you will protect your brain from being attacked by Alzheimer’s disease.
Drawbacks of Sleeping on Your Side
Like everything in life, sleeping on a side also has its shortcomings. One of the drawbacks of spending the night this way is that you can experience a certain amount of pain in your shoulder. It mostly happens because you don’t have the adequate sleeping surface underneath you, so your shoulders, just like your hips, sink too deep in it. That’s the reason why side sleepers should avoid too soft mattresses. They need the right support, but the cushiony feel on the top that won’t make this body part sore.
Another problem this way of sleeping might cause is paresthesia, which is also known as “pins and needles” sensation. It’s a syndrome of limb numbness caused by an extensive and extremely long restriction of blood flow, the one that could cause your arm or leg to lose all the feeling for a while. It is not dangerous, but some people experienced panic attacks after waking up and not being able to move their limb or even feel it as their own.
If you are a strict side sleeper at a certain age, you may notice you are having a lot of facial wrinkles. Although there are many reasons that cause this phenomenon that’s part of a natural aging process, sleeping like this may contribute a bit. That’s because your face is constantly squashing against the pillow. Besides that, there is one more thing women won’t like hearing, but side sleeping can lead to sagging breasts. Although that’s entirely the result of gravity, the skin loses its elasticity with time, and this position can make this part of women’s bodies less perky.
Is Side Sleeping Bad for Your Shoulder?
If you are on your side, your knees, hips, shoulders, and head are becoming your main pressure points. That means that you will most likely feel the weight of your entire body in these areas. Even though sleeping like that shouldn’t cause any kind of problems, some doctors are not advising people with sensitive rotator shoulder cuff to practice it often. That’s because there are examples where this particular joint was damaged as a consequence of side sleeping.
Given that there is a huge number of people who do not know how to sleep if not on their sides, there are ways to help yourself if you feel any kind of a pain in your shoulder. The first thing you need to do is to find the proper angle to sleep on, the one where you won’t feel pressure or discomfort. Then you should take a couple of soft pillows. Place one under your head, another between your knees, and third keep close to your chest. That way, you will align your body properly, and you will relieve these problematic parts like your shoulders or your hips from extensive pressure. Also, in order to avoid this scenario, try exercising more during the day, which will help all of your joints, and increase your blood flow.
Which Side to Choose?
If you are thinking about what side to sleep on, which is better – the left one or the right one, know research showed that sleeping on the left side of the body is best for many reasons. The benefits of sleeping on the left side are extraordinary. Because of the specific position of the body, there won’t be any pressure on your inside organs, your circulation will be perfect, and your blood flow increased. Also, the airflow will be impeccable, there won’t be any obstacles that could make you inhale or exhale with difficulty. If you lay like that, you won’t experience heartburn or acid reflux, and you will dispose of toxins from your brain.
When we are on the subject of digestive problems, one serious study showed that people who are sleeping on the right side instead of on the left more often experienced heartburn. They concluded that it is because of the placement of our stomach and organs inside of it, and gravity that allows this system to process the food more quickly and easily. They claim that lying on the right can make heartburn even worse since the body needs to fight that gravity. So it seems like you got the answer to the question – what side to sleep on with acid reflux.
But it is good to shift from one side to another during the sleep hours, because you may experience some pain and soreness in your shoulders and hips if you always stay only on the left. Besides that, lying in this one position may cause you to feel the huge pressure on your stomach and chest, so it can start getting uncomfortable after a while.
How to Train Yourself to Sleep on Your Side
Sleeping on the side can be quite difficult to achieve, especially if you are an exclusive back or stomach sleeper. However, we gathered some tips that may be helpful, so take a look at them and try them on. Who knows, maybe you wake up one of these days and realize you were always a side sleeper, you just didn’t know that.
Choose the right pillow
To make yourself comfortable while sleeping on the side, you need to choose the right pillow, the one that’s not too soft but not too firm as well, not too thick but not too flat. When you put your head on it, your whole spine needs to be well aligned. The experts say that side sleepers should choose extra firm pillows because that’s the only way to be sure your head and neck won’t bend down in an unnatural position. If you make a mistake and pick the softer one, you will probably wake up with neck pain.
Use pillows as support
In order to develop a new habit that includes a side sleeping position, you need to create a perfectly cozy environment. You may find it a bit uncomfortable when you first start sleeping like this, a bit stiff, or maybe painful in some places, so we suggest taking as many pillows as you need and placing them in all the right places.
That should make sleeping on your side more appealing and acceptable. But other than providing comfort, these pillows will help you to make the transition easier. If you are a stomach sleeper, for example, you should take one pillow and hug it, because that will make you believe you are sleeping like you used to, on your belly. Or, if you actually are a back sleeper, the pillow placed behind your body will prevent you from turning on your back automatically.
Try tennis ball trick
When you start learning how to sleep on your side, you may find yourself being all frustrated and desperate because no matter how much you try, your body seems to continue doing what it wants, like you don’t have a saying in that. If you are desperate to achieve this and are willing to experiment and try something funny and extreme, we suggest a tennis ball trick.
All you have to do is to sew one tennis ball on the front of your pajama and another on the back of it. Do that and lay on your side. If you try automatically to turn on your back or stomach, you will feel the ball very unpleasantly and return in a position you need to be. It’s silly, but it does the work.
Sleep on sofa
If you tried everything and nothing worked, maybe it’s time for the next step. The best way to sleep on your side is by using a sofa. But it has to be a tiny and extremely narrow one. That way, you won’t be able to turn on your back or your stomach, you simply won’t have enough room. It will probably be very uncomfortable, but you should change your bed for a sofa for a couple of weeks, and then return to your bedroom. You probably will continue to practice this new habit your body was subjected to, but you can also start practicing tennis ball trick at the same time, just in case.
Best Mattress Type for a Side Sleeper
If you are learning how to stay on your side during the night, you probably were back or stomach sleeper before. That means you know how important it was for you to have a bed for back pain. In order to remain pain-free after you switch to a side sleeping position, you should think about changing or upgrading your sleep surface.
Side sleepers need to have a medium-firm mattress, that’s the opinion of most experts. This type of surface will provide them with good support that will keep their body well aligned, but at the same time, they will have a soft cushiony bed so their shoulders and hips won’t be soured in the morning. It is very important for them not to choose a too-soft mattress because having that kind of sleeping surface will feel great at the beginning, but looking long term, it will prove to be a bad idea.
It will be cozy and comfortable, but those mattresses won’t be able to hold the average body on top of it. You will start sinking during the night, which will make your spine trapped for too long in unnatural positions, and that will lead to extensive pain in a different part of your body.
On the other hand, you don’t want a firm mattress either, because it is not built to support this sleeping position well. You won’t be able to relax, make yourself comfortable enough to fall asleep, or you will go in dreamland, but you will wake up feeling stiff and generally unpleasant. A medium-firm mattress is great for hip pain sufferer since it releases this part of the body of pressure.
Best Pillows for Side Sleepers
People usually forget how crucial it is to find the perfect pillow for yourself and not just the mattress. They are ready to do the research and make an extra effort in order to come to an ideal sleeping surface, the one that will answer all their needs, but they usually just pick the first pillow that comes to their hands.
But this is a topic that deserves your full attention too. When you sleep on your side, you need to be aligned. Your head, hips, shoulders, and neck need to be in a neutral position that will allow your spine and your whole body to relax. Because of that, side sleepers should look for a firm pillow. Our head has around 10 to 12 pounds, and if you use too soft feather pillow, for example, your head will probably sink too far, and your neck will remain exposed and without much-needed support, which can cause pain in this area.
It would be best to choose a memory foam pillow that will provide you with excellent contouring and super soft and pleasant feel. Also, they can be a great solution to your need to rest the shoulder on it too.
What side to lay on for heartburn?
Scientists discovered that if you lie on the left side of your body, you will lower the chances of experiencing heartburn significantly. The reason is hidden in the fact that our stomach and our inside organs are positioned in a way that allows our digestive system to work more easily when we are turned on our left, mostly because of the gravity. It is proved that heartburn will be more frequent if we are on our right since our body needs to put energy in processing food and fighting gravity. That’s just one of the benefits of sleeping on your left side.
Where to put your arms when sleeping on the side?
There are no strict rules when it comes to this matter. The only important thing is to find a position that will make you feel comfortable, and that won’t make your limbs numb. It would be best if you could place both of your arms down, next to your body. If you put them above your head, you may cause the problem with your shoulder. If you cannot find the right angle or position for them, try hugging a pillow, that should relieve you from feeling pressure in your arms.
One thing is for sure, side sleeping is justifiably the most popular and the most common sleeping position. It has some huge benefits we cannot ignore, regarding our health, and it is less likely we will experience back or neck pain if we make a habit of spending the night this way. If you don’t believe something silly like the way our body is positioned during our time of rest can affect our everyday life, just read the lines above, and if there are reasons you need to start sleeping in this way asap, we provided you with some useful tips.