The Importance of Good Sleeping Posture

Irving Penn

Everyone knows the importance of good posture, but this doesn’t apply just to sitting, standing and moving around. The muscles and ligaments of the body relax and heal themselves while we sleep.  Given that we spend a significant proportion of each day asleep – the average Briton sleeps for 7 hours and 22 minutes (according to recent data from the alarm clock app, Sleep Cycle) – good posture when sleeping has a key role to play in maintaining the health of the body.

Below are the six most common sleeping positions [click on images to make them larger]…

Most common sleep positions

To help you to visualise the six positions, here they are represented pictorially…

Six most common sleep positions

Which sleeping position is most like yours?

Professor Chris Idzikowski, one Britain’s leading sleep experts, has highlighted how each of the six sleeping positions impacts on our health…

The best and worst sleep positions

Whichever position you find yourself sleeping in, it’s important to keep the ears, shoulders and hips aligned as much as possible.  Here are a few tips to help achieve the best postural alignment when sleeping:

  • If you sleep on your back, a small pillow under the back of your knees will reduce stress on your spine and support the natural curve in your lower back. The pillow for your head should support your head, the natural curve of your neck, and your shoulders.
  • Sleeping on your stomach can create stress on the back because the spine can be put out of position. Placing a flat pillow under the stomach and pelvis area can help keep the spine in better alignment. If you sleep on your stomach, a pillow for your head should be flat, or sleep without a pillow.
  • If you sleep on your side, a firm pillow between your knees will prevent your upper leg from pulling your spine out of alignment and reduce stress on your hips and lower back. Pull your knees up slightly toward your chest. The pillow for your head should keep your spine straight. A rolled towel or small pillow under your waist may also help support your spine.
  • Insert pillows into gaps between your body and the mattress.
  • When turning in bed, remember not to twist or bend at the waist but to move your entire body as one unit. Keep your belly pulled in and tightened, and bend your knees toward the chest when you roll.
  • Keep your ears, shoulders, and hips aligned when turning as well as when sleeping.

Vivian Maier

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