NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — Everyone knows the importance of getting a good night’s sleep, but many people may not be aware that the position they sleep in can lead to some serious health problems.
Whatever position you sleep in, doctors say it can significantly impact the quality of your rest, the way you feel in the morning, and your physical health later in life, CBS 2’s Dana Tyler reported.
“It dramatically effects the way you feel, the energy you have, the wrinkles on your face, even your weight,” Dr. Greg Vanvakaris explained.
Sleeping on your back can lead to snoring and sleep apnea.
“Your throat closes down as you relax in sleep, when your on your back gravity can make that worse,” Dr. Carl Bazil, Director , The Sleep Center at New York-Presbyterian Columbia University Medical Center.
Stomach sleepers are at a greater risk for wrinkles because their faces are repeatedly pushed in the same position. They are also at risk for neck strains.
“That could give you muscle pain, affect certain nerves in the neck,” Dr. Bazil said.
Research has shown that sleeping on the left side can relieve heartburn symptoms while right side sleeping can make symptoms worse and even lead to acid reflux.
While it may feel comfortable sleeping with your body curved in the fetal position can restrict breathing and compress vital organs causing poor blood circulation.
“The primary approach to your sleep environment is to make it comfortable,” Dr. Bazil said.
Making sleep more comfortable along with some slight changes to your sleeping habits can actually improve your health.
“For the back sleeper, the best solution is put a pillow underneath the knees,” Dr. Greg Vanvakaris explained.
The pillow reduces stress on the lower back and another well placed pillow under the head can help open up the airway to reduce snoring.
For side sleepers, a pillow under the head and neck, and another in between the knees can reduce stress on the hips and spine.
“For the stomach sleeper, which is the absolute worst position, I’m going to give you a little flat pillow,” Dr. Vanvakaris said.
The flat pillow reduces pressure on the neck, and a pillow under the hips can alleviate stress on the back. If you want to retrain your body to sleep in a completely different position experts suggest a device called ‘the sleep strap’.
“You put the ball underneath your sternum, so that when you roll over it irritates you a little bit and causes you to turn back on your side or your back,” Dr. Vanvakaris explained.
Experts agreed that sleeping on your back is the best position because your weight is evenly distributed which minimizes pressure points and ensures proper alignments of the internal organs.
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