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The best and worst sleep positions for snoring, back pain and headaches

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Getting a good night’s sleep can be critical in ensuring overall health and wellbeing. According to an expert, the position in which you sleep can work to boost wellness and reduce the risk of aches, pains and nighttime disruption.

But, there are also some common sleeping positions that can actually hinder your wellbeing over time.

Not only can the position in which you sleep impact the quality of rest, it can also bring on a number of bothersome ailments that can bear a burden on your day.

Independent occupational therapist, Julie Jennings, who works for furniture specialist HSl, explained some of the best and worst positions for sleeping in.

The mummy

The mummy position refers to people who sleep on their back, with their spine, head and neck aligned.

According to Ms Jennings, sleeping on your back is one of the best ways to enjoy a full night’s rest and protect your body.

She said: “Sleeping on your back is one of the best positions to snooze in to protect your spine, it can also help to reduce pressure and tension headaches, too.

“So, if you regularly get headaches, this might be the sleeping position for you.

“Make sure your mattress and pillows are supportive, however, as these can be the root of many problems.”

Side snoozers

Rolling onto your side before sleep is a fairly common position, and the good news is it is considered to be “healthy” too.

Ms Jennings said: “Sleeping on your side can reduce both joint and back pain and it also lowers the risk of snoring.”

Not only is snoring bothersome for anyone you share a bed or bedroom with, but it can also have long-term health effects.

Ms Jennings added: “Snoring can create disruptions in breathing, which can lead to long-term complications, such as diabetes, heart problems and cognitive issues.”

However, side sleepers tend to suspend the middle of the body between their hips and shoulders.

Ms Jennings said: “For those who don’t stray from side sleeping, try sleeping with a pillow in between your knees to keep your hips, pelvis and spine better aligned.”

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Stomach sleepers

Sleeping on your stomach is less common, but there are still plenty of people who doze off in this position.

Ms Jennings warned this position is “the real ‘no-no'”.

She said: “By sleeping on your stomach, it is almost impossible to keep your spine in a neutral position.

“When in this position many will sleep with heads to the side in order to breathe comfortably however, this can cause strain to the spine and affect the alignment of your head and neck.

“Sleeping on your stomach can also cause headaches, shoulder, arm, and knee pain.”

The starfish

Spreading out in bed might not be an option for everyone, particularly those who share a bed.

However, it can be one of the best for people who spend all day writing or typing at a desk.

Ms Jennings explained: “Although this position may seem counterintuitive, sleeping with your arms overhead, may protect against shoulder, lower back, and neck pains and is a great choice for those wanting to alleviate any unwanted pain in these areas.

“If you work at a desk all day, then this could be the sleeping position for you.”

The soldier

The solider position refers to sleeping on your back with the arms down at the sides, and legs straight out.

According to the occupational therapist, the position can be hugely beneficial for sleep health, but there are some things people should watch out for.

She said: “The solider position can benefit your sleep health, as it can help spread pressure evenly across the length of the spine, neck, and arms. Beware not to use more than one pillow if you sleep in this position though.

“You’ll want your head and neck supported, but not propped up too much.”

The foetal position

One of the most common sleeping positions, the foetal position is said to help reduce aches and pains as well as snoring.

Ms Jennings said: “The foetal position is one of the most common sleeping positions, not only is it great for lower back pain, sleeping in the foetal position can also help to reduce snoring.”

But, unless your posture is relatively loose, this position could be limiting your deep breathing.

The expert added: “If you have any issues with joint pain or stiffness, sleeping in a tight foetal position may leave your feeling muscles feeling sore or tight in the morning.”

The freefaller

The freewill position describes people who sleep on the stomach, head to one side, arms wrapped behind the pillow.

Although it can feel comforting, and aid digestion, there are some downsides too.

Ms Jennings said: “The freefall position may feel more comforting to those looking to relieve pressure at the shoulders and hips.

“To avoid numb, stiff hands, try extending your arms out to either side and instead of bending one of your knees, try keeping both legs straight and slightly apart.”

The bad news is, the position can result in neck and backache.

The yearner

Ms Jennings explained: “‘Yearners’ are people who sleep on their side, with their arms outstretched as if reaching for something.”

Overall, the Yearner sleeping position can be a healthy way to sleep as it can keep your spine naturally aligned.

However, Ms Jennings warned that it may lead to back or hip pain as one leg is unsupported during the night.

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