Your sleep position

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, it also can help alleviate or aggravate certain conditions, like sleep apnea, acid reflux and more.

Wake up on the right side of the bed
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. 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 dangle by using a very soft pillow under your head or sleeping sans pillow.

Restore, don’t snore
Khawaja_Imran_128If you snore or have obstructive sleep apnea, back sleeping may worsen the problem, so opt for your side instead. In fact, Dr. Imran Khawaja, psychiatrist and director of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center at Hennepin County Medical Center, says about 40 to 50 percent of patients with obstructive sleep apnea may benefit from sleeping on their side. If you’re not able to change position, using a wedge pillow to elevate your head may help. Need more motivation to side sleep? Doing so can also help relieve acid reflux (heartburn). For more information or to make an appointment at the Sleep Center call 612-873-6963.

Avoiding back, shoulder and neck pain
Pillows can help 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 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 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 above the shoulders.

Sleep snapshot:

The position: Back
Good for: Back pain
Bad for: Snoring, sleep apnea, digestive problems
What you can do: Elevate your head, raise the head of the bed two to four inches

The position: Side
Good for: Heartburn
Bad for: Shoulder pain
What you can do: Hug a pillow

The position: Stomach
Good for: Snoring, sleep apnea
Bad for: Neck and back pain, sleep quality
What you can do: Place a pillow under your pelvis and lower abdominals, don’t use a pillow under your head (or use a very soft one)

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