Sleeping Positions

MRSDC Sleep Position Back Graphic

Are you sleeping in the right position?

Did you know you can actually improve your health while you sleep? It's true. Your sleep position — whether you're a side, back or stomach sleeper — not only affects the quality of your sleep, it also can help alleviate or aggravate certain conditions, like sleep apnea, acid reflux and more.

Wake up on the right side of the bed

While there's no "right" way to sleep, sleeping on your stomach generally isn't recommended because of the position's effects on your neck and back. If you find it hard to sleep in another position, though, place a pillow under your pelvis to help reduce strain. Avoid putting your neck at an awkward dangle by using a very soft pillow under your head or sleeping without a pillow.

MRSDC Sleep Position Side Graphic

Restore, don't snore

If you snore or have obstructive sleep apnea, back sleeping may worsen the problem, so opt for your side instead. In fact, Dr. Imran Khawaja, psychiatrist and director of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center at HCMC says about 40-50 percent of patients with obstructive sleep apnea may benefit from sleeping on their side. If you're not able to change position, using a wedge pillow to elevate your head may help. Need more motivation to side sleep? Doing so can also help relieve acid reflux (heartburn).

Avoiding back, shoulder and neck pain

MRSDC Sleep Position Stomach Graphic

Pillows can help lessen back pain in most positions. If you sleep on your back, a pillow under the knees or a rolled towel under the small of your back helps maintain the body's natural curve. If you're a side sleeper, a pillow between your knees can provide extra support while helping hip and knee issues, too. If you have spinal stenosis (pinched nerves in the lower back),bending your knees may also help ease discomfort.

For side sleepers with shoulder pain, avoid sleeping on the affected side. Instead, sleep on the opposite side and hug a pillow. Or, sleep on your back with a small pillow beneath the injured shoulder. For neck pain,use a pillow that fills the space between your neck and shoulders, positioned above the shoulders.