How different sleep positions affect your wellbeing

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  • Time to rethink how you sleep

    Have you ever been kept up by insomnia, tossing and turning, unsure of what position would best aid a good night’s sleep? Yeah, us too. And, you may have brushed up on your sleep hygiene but it’s also about the way you physically sleep, too.

    Like, have you found yourself waking up with aches, pains or migraines because of how you slept? Well, that’s because some sleep positions can lead you to having that morning headache so we decided to investigate. Here’s what we found out…

    Sleeping on your back

    If you can do this, it’s not only good for your back (as your spine is straight and relatively neutral), it’s also good for keeping wrinkles at bay as your face isn’t being squashed on anything. If you’re a back sleeper, try sleeping without a pillow to allow your spine to be even straighter.

    Sleeping on your side

    ‘Sleeping on your side may help improve airflow, so it’s best to sleep on your side rather than on your back if possible,’ says Dr. Josna Adusumilli, MD, neurologist and sleep disorders physician at Massachusetts General Hospital. ‘If you have a condition called obstructive sleep apnea, where there are blockages to  airflow in the upper airway, sleeping on your side may help improve the quality of your sleep and oxygen levels during sleep.’

    Sleeping on your stomach

    This is considered one of the worst positions to sleep in as it strains your neck and can cause lower back pain because of the way it flattens the curve of your spine.

    Sleep positions during pregnancy

    According to BabyCenter, the best way to accommodate those tender breasts and your ever-growing belly is to sleep on your side with your knees bent. And, don’t be afraid to use pillows as props, you can stick one under your belly, behind your back or in-between your legs if you need extra support.

    The further along your pregnancy you are, the more you should avoid lying on your back as the weight of your uterus means your back’s supporting extra weight and it can decrease the amount of blood flow around your body, too.

    Expectant mothers with heartburn should try sleeping sitting up with the aid of some cleverly positioned pillows.

    Sleep positions for period cramps

    Periods can, quite literally, be a bloody nightmare. Especially when it comes to getting a decent night’s sleep.

    Do you set your alarm for an ungodly hour to change your tampon, or do you deal with the hassle and discomfort of an Always extra thick overnight pad? And if you’re suffering from a bad case of cramps then you may as well cry away the thought of peacefully drifting off into the land of nod. Especially as we still don’t have a cure for period pain, despite the fact period cramps can be as painful as a heart attack.

    Thankfully, experts have revealed that sleeping in the foetal position is the best way to ensure a good night’s sleep when mother nature comes knocking on your door.

    By sleeping on one side with your legs tucked up next to your stomach, the foetal position “takes pressure off the abdominal muscles,” gynaecologist Lisa Lindley explains to an America glossy magazine.

    ‘Many women report that the foetal position can help relieve cramps,’ adds M.D. Jennifer Wider. This is because the muscles around the abdomen are encouraged to relax, which reduces the tension and therefore the cramping.

    Period-tracking app Clue have also shown that the foetal position decreases the chances over overnight leakage, as the legs are squeezed together.

    Whatever you do, just make sure you avoid sleeping face-down when Aunt Flo is in town. Lying on your stomach can cause the uterus to squeeze, which can increase the amount of blood lost, warns Dr. Wider.

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