Dr. Rachel: Are you sleeping in the best position for your health?

Dr. Rachel
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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – Do you feel like you need more sleep? Does your neck hurt when you wake up? Dr. Rachel tells us that the way you’re sleeping might be the cause.

Dr. Rachel says, “sleeping is one of the most important things you do in your life, and your sleeping position can actually affect your health. There are three basic sleep positions: fetal, lying on your back or lying on your stomach.”

The most common sleeping position is the fetal position.  Over 40% of us sleep in this manner, with women twice as likely to sleep in the fetal position. This is a great position for snorers, but sleeping on your side can cause nerve compression in your arms and legs. You can easily correct this issue by using a pillow to help support your back and neck.

Only about eight percent of us are back sleepers. Sleeping on your back is the healthiest position because it aligns your spine. Dr. Rachel says, “when you lie on your back, your head, neck and spine are in a neutral position, and there is no extra pressure on those areas. Sleeping on your back is good for people with acid reflux if they prop their head up with extra pillows. You want your stomach to be lower than your esophagus to prevent the reflux of stomach contents from coming into your esophagus.” It’s important to take note that if you snore or have sleep apnea, then lying on your back will make your snoring or sleep apnea worse.

Dr. Rachel tells us that the seven percent who sleep on their stomachs are in trouble. This position causes strain in your neck because your head is turned to one side to breathe. This position strains your neck, head, and even lower back because the natural curve is not supported. Stomach sleepers lose sleep because frequent tossing and turning to get comfortable. Dr. Rachel recommends that if you sleep on your belly, you should try to train yourself to sleep in another position.

So tonight, when you’re falling asleep, ask yourself: are you sleeping in the best position for your health?
Do you have an email for Dr. Rachel? Send it her way at drRachel@wgno.com.

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