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Pros and Cons Of Different Sleeping Position

Sleeping position of the body has an impact on sleep. It affects breathing and can cause snoring, insomnia, sleep apnea or can even cause pain.

Pros and Cons of Different Sleeping Position

Below are discussed a few common sleeping positions and how they affect various health conditions.

Pros and Cons of Sleeping Supine

In this position, a person sleeps by lying on his back. The legs are extended in a neutral position. The arms lie flat by the sides of the body. Some also sleep with arms raised above the shoulder and arms placed above or behind the head or outstretched to the sides.

Pros: It is the best sleeping position for those who can breathe well. The body, in this case, is fully supported by the mattress and pillow. If a supportive pillow or cushions are placed at the knees, pressure and musculoskeletal pain are reduced.

Supine is the best position for those with chronic back, neck, shoulder, or sciatica pain.

When the feet are raised above the heart, peripheral edema is relieved and reduces the impacts of congestive heart failure. It is also a preferred position for infants to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.(1)

Cons: Those with trouble in breathing during sleep, lying on the back, make the condition worse. It may show up as loud snoring. Nasal obstruction and mouth breathing can lead to sleep apnea.

Pros and Cons of Sleeping on Left Side

Lying on the left side is also known as left lateral position. In it, the body is positioned with the head and torso on the left side. The arms are under the body or slightly forward and the left leg underneath.

Pros: This position is a comfortable one for a pregnant female. A pillow placed in between the knees which relieve the pressure on bladder and back.

This position also avoids the adverse impacts of supine sleep.

Cons: When sleeping on the left, the internal organs in the thorax can shift. This may make the lungs weigh heavy on the heart. Increased pressure may impact the functioning of the heart and worsen heart strain in heart failure.(2) The heart responds to increasing pressure by increasing urination at night.

Also, pressure on left arm and leg may cause other problems.

Pros and Cons of Sleeping Right Side

This is a right lateral position in which the body positioned as head and torso lying on the right side.

Pros: Similar to the left lateral sleep, right lateral sleep also reduces the impact of supine sleep. Pain in the left lateral joint can be eased by this position.

Cons: In this position, the heart shifts the mediastinum towards the right lung. This reduces the volume of the lung which may lead to a compromise on the blood oxygen levels. This may strain the cardiovascular system in people with related health conditions. Pressure on the nerves of the right arm and legs would lead to compression injuries.

Pros and Cons of Sleeping on Stomach or Prone Position

Sleeping on the stomach is not a common sleep position. The face is turned to one side to facilitate breathing,

Pros: It helps avoid the consequences of the supine position and also prevents the organ shift that occurs in the thorax. It helps in alleviating chronic muscle pain. It is often a chosen position if the surface on which you are sleeping is not comfortable.

Cons: Prone sleep position may lead to neck pain. It also strains the associated muscles of the shoulder and upper back.

Breathing can be compromised as the body’s weight reduces lung volume by restricting the movement of the rib cage and diaphragm.

Pros and Cons of Sleeping Upright

This is a position of sleeping with the head raised by sleeping on a recliner.

Pros: Sleeping with head raised reduces the collapse of the airway and diminishes the risk of snoring and the associated problem. It may also help relieve pain if positioned properly.

Cons: If sleeping in upright position, changing position during sleep is very difficult. There may be cons of supine breathing present, if the person breaths through the mouth.

So, What Is Your Favourite Sleep Position?

If you are not able to find a comfortable position to sleep, consider changing your mattress. You can also speak with a certified sleep physician.

A good sleep is essential to keep going the next day. It is also necessary to stay fit and healthy mentally and physically.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 2, 2020

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