Did you know you can actually improve your health while you sleep? It’s true. Your sleep position – whether you’re a side, back or stomach sleeper – not only affects the quality of your sleep, also can help to alleviate or aggravate certain conditions, like sleep apnea, acid reflux and more.
“While there’s no ‘right’ way to sleep, sleeping on your stomach generally isn’t recommended because of the position’s effects on your neck and back,” says Dr. Sushrut Patel, board certified pulmonologist and sleep specialist with Beloit Health System. “If you find it hard to sleep in another position, though, place a pillow under your pelvis to help reduce strain. Avoid putting your neck at an awkward angle by using a very soft pillow under your head or sleeping without a pillow.”
Snoring not only disrupts your bed partner’s rest, but can prevent you from getting restorative sleep. “If you snore or have obstructive sleep apnea, back sleeping may worsen the problem,” Patel says. “Sleep on your side, instead. Some mild sleep apnea sufferers may report improved symptoms.” If you’re not able to change position, a wedge pillow to elevate your head may help. It can also help to relieve acid reflux, insomnia and chronic sleep deprivation in some people.
Your sleep position can help to alleviate back, neck and shoulder pain. Pillows can help to lessen back pain in most positions. If you sleep on your back, a pillow under the knees or a rolled towel under the small of your back helps to maintain the body’s natural curve.
If you’re a side sleeper, a pillow between your knees can provide extra support while helping hip and knee issues, too. If you have spinal stenosis (pinched nerves in the lower back), bending your knees may also help to ease discomfort.
For side sleepers with shoulder pain, avoid sleeping on the affected side. Instead, sleep on the opposite side and hug a pillow. Or sleep on your back with a small pillow beneath the injured shoulder. For neck pain, use a pillow that fills the space between your neck and shoulders, positioned around your neck.
To schedule an appointment for a sleep study, call Beloit Health System or NorthPointe’s Sleep Solutions at (608) 364-5481. ❚