Dr. Rachel: Positions that can lead to healthy sleeping

Dr. Rachel
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There are 3 basic sleep positions: fetal, lying on your back or stomach.

The fetal position is the most common sleeping position. Over 40% of us sleep in this curled up manner and women are twice as likely to sleep in the fetal position.

Sleeping on your side can cause nerve compression in your arms and legs. These issues can be corrected by using a pillow to help support your back and neck. This is a great position for snorers.

Only about 8% of us are back sleepers. This is overall a great and the healthiest position because it aligns your spine.
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.
If you snore or have sleep apnea then lying on your back will make your snoring or sleep apnea worse.

Dr. Rachel has bad news for the 7% who sleep on their stomachs. This position causes strain in your neck because your head is turned to one side in order to breathe. Think about it: If you stood with your head turned to the side, within 5 minutes you would start feeling strain in your neck and head.
Stomach sleeping also puts strain on your lower back because the natural curve is not supported.
Stomach sleepers have frequent tossing and turning in an effort to get comfortable. It is recommended that if you sleep on your tummy, try to retrain yourself to sleep in another position.

Tonight, when you go to sleep, ask yourself: are you sleeping in the best position for your health?
If you have any medical questions, email her at DrRachel@wgno.com.


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