Every person has their unique way of sleeping. Some enjoy sleeping on their backs, some on their belly, and some on their side.
What’s intriguing is some people like sleeping on their backs, but with their knees up. There’s really nothing wrong with having your knees up, but it’s not the most comfortable sleeping position for some people.
In this article, we explore the different sleep positions people use and look at any pros and cons of each.
The basic sleeping positions
The most common sleeping position is sleeping on your back – this is also known as the supine position.
Sleeping on your back releases tension from your head, your neck, and your spine, as they are in a neutral position and promotes a natural curve.
The back sleeping position is fantastic for people who experience waking up with neck pains. It is also advisable to add ample support to the head and neck by having it slightly elevated with the correct pillow.
The Ecosa Pillow can provide comfortable and ample support with its memory foam material and adjustable height pads.
Being a back sleeper isn’t for everyone, particularly if you have preexisting lower back pains or issues. It’s best to try a different sleeping position.
Sleeping on your side
After sleeping on your back, side sleeping is the next most common position that people do.
Sleeping on your side has plenty of benefits, especially if you are living with sleep apnea or if you snore at night.
The side sleeping position allows for your airways to open a little better as compared to a supinated and a pronated (back or front) sleeping posture.
Unlike sleeping on your back, side sleeping can help release tension from your lower back, which is great for people experiencing back pains in the morning.
Side sleeping is also one of the best options for pregnant women. With the right pillow, it offers the most comfort and support for their baby bump.
If you’re struggling with acid reflux, being a side sleeper has its perks. Sleeping on your left side inhibits the acids to backflow into your esophagus – preventing episodes of heartburn at night.
Just avoid sleeping on your right side as it can aggravate your acid reflux and make your sleep uncomfortable.
Like all positions, side sleeping can also have its disadvantages. Having all your weight shifted to one side can restrict blood flow to your limbs, leaving you with that numb feeling in the morning.
Although not as common as sleeping on your back or side, lying on your stomach is also a popular choice for sleepers.
Loud snorers and those with sleep apnea that don’t use a CPAP machine may choose to lie down on their stomach to help open up their airways a bit more.
But, in reality, sleeping on your stomach isn’t the most ideal as it can compress your diaphragm and may inhibit some of your breathing.
Likewise, sleeping on your stomach forces you to rotate your neck to either side, which may overextend the muscles causing neck pains the next day.
More unusual sleep positions
The fetal position is a variation of side sleeping but with the knees bent, and legs tuck close to the body.
Sleeping in this position isn’t actually unusual, in fact, it’s the most common way of sleeping on your side. The fetal position feels so natural, probably because it is the way we floated around our mother’s womb – hence the name.
Similar to rolling into a ball, the fetal position isn’t only physically comfortable, but studies show that it also helps calm our nerves and lessens anxiety.
Sleep specialists may also recommend sleeping in a fetal position for those with sleep disorders as it has shown to cause the least amount of sleep interruptions.
The only disadvantage can be the weight of your body being shifted mostly to one side of your upper body, which can lead to some neck and shoulder pain.
Yes, it’s called the starfish because you look like a starfish when sleeping in this position.
Sleeping like a starfish is basically lying on your back with your arms and legs spread wide like a five-point star.
Sleeping in the starfish pose is excellent for quick naps as it allows you to stretch out your body a little and generally gives the feeling of being free.
But, being an unnatural position, sleeping like a starfish through the whole night can cause lower back pains and backaches.
Sleep specialists also observed that being in the starfish position may compress your airways which can cause you to snore during your sleep.
Some stomach sleepers sleep in a position called the freefall. This is basically lying pronated with your face planted onto your pillow.
Freefallers usually enjoy tucking their hands under a pillow or having them on their sides as if they’re skydiving.
Sleeping in a freefall position won’t really help with quality sleep, and in fact, it is also quite discouraged for long slumbers.
The fact that your face is planted to your pillow means that air is blocked from entering your nose and mouth.
Having poor respiratory flow during sleep isn’t the best idea, as an adequate supply of oxygen is required by your body to fully restore and recover itself from a long day.
And of course – knees-up
No, this isn’t the same as the fetal position. This is the fetal position on steroids – you’re on your back with your knees up in the air.
Being a variation of the back sleeping position, sleeping with your knees up shares most of the same advantages.
The only added disadvantage of it is that your legs may feel numb in the morning as blood flow to your lower legs is reduced from being up all night.
For some people, they like crossing their legs with their knees up during sleep – similarly, blood flow isn’t as efficient compared to when the legs are laid flat on the bed. Not a major concern but something to be aware of.
There is no single best sleeping position as each one has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Picking the best sleep position will always be based on how you find yourself most comfortable during your time in bed, and how you feel when you wake up in the morning.
Try to observe the position you are in every time you wake up, this will be your starting point to find the sleeping position that’s perfect for you.