Falling asleep on your back is called the sleepy soldier position. Sleeping on your back is considered by many as the ideal way of sleeping since it has a lot of benefits.
Sleeping on your back lets your head, neck, and spine stay aligned in a neutral position, reducing the pressure in those spots. Less pressure while you sleep means less pain when you wake up. And waking up all contorted up is definitely not the first thing you need in the morning not to mention the effect it has on your sleep.
Ever woken up with creases and marks on your face and body from your pillow, blanket or hand? Cute, right? Not exactly. Plus, experts have found that people who sleep on their side or stomach, and therefore, their faces, often have a deeper and more prominent wrinkle pattern on their skin. If you’re super consistent about sleeping on a specific side or on your stomach, a sleep expert or dermatologist may even be able to tell what side you favour just by looking at your skin. Not the beauty sleep one hopes for I assume.
Sleeping on your back can also help if you suffer from acid reflux especially if you eat closer to bedtime. It is recommended to elevate your head slightly above your stomach while you lie down in order to reduce acid reflux symptoms while you sleep.
It can be hard to change your sleeping position, especially if you’ve been sleeping in the same position for a long time. You may have to do a little sleep training if you want to start sleeping on your back. (After all, experts say it takes about 21 days to form a habit.)
Just remember that for good rest, it’s important to sleep in a position that’s comfortable for you. It’s more important to get deep, restful sleep than it is to sleep in a specific position. However, if you want to become a back sleeper, here are some training tips:
- Start by lying flat on your bed or wherever you find comfort sleeping (preferably a flat surface). Try resting with your arms down by your sides, raise them above your head in a goal post position or stretch them out straight on either side of you with your palms facing upwards.
- Elevate your upper body slightly, either with an adjustable bed or an incline of pillows. This may make sleeping on your back more comfortable so that you stay on your back while you snooze.
- Try putting a pillow or rolled-up towel under your knees to alleviate pressure on your spine.
- Create a barrier of pillows on either side of you. This can prevent you from rolling over and help you feel more protected and secure while you sleep on your back. Try a pillow on either side of you to rest your arms on. This can help you feel cradled.
On the other hand, a very commonly associated problem with sleeping on your back is snoring. If you’re a person who is prone to sleep apnea or snoring it is better suited for you to sleep on your side. Snoring can be annoying not only to the person sleeping next to you but also be bad for your health. It can cause shallow breathing and disrupt your sleep and lead to thickening and problems with the carotid artery, which supplies blood to your brain, face and neck.
To avoid this it is recommended to use a pillow or a rolled-up towel under your knees to support the natural curve of your spine and ease any pressure off of your spine. Another addition to this would be replacing your soft or worn-out mattress for one that’s more firm. Support for your spine means you’ll be free of back pain.
A slight twist to the sleeping on your back position other than the soldier position is the starfish position. Wherein you lie down flat on your back but with your legs spread apart and your arms bent up on either side of your head. This position too has all the benefits of the soldier position and helps with the acid reflux but is known to aggravate snoring and any issues with sleep apnea and pauses in breathing and such pre-conditions.
A key thing to keep in mind while sleeping on your back is to ensure alignment since that’s the ultimate goal right? And you’ll notice sometimes lying down on your back on a flat surface can feel painful for your lower back. The reason for this in actuality is that if your hip flexors and hamstrings are tight, it can pull your lower spine out of alignment.
So, if you’re someone who’s been spending their quarantine time sitting on your bed with little to no support this should start making a lot of sense for you right about now. The solution to this is to do a little stretching before going to bed. And mind you, it won’t be an instant problem solver either but if you’re consistent the discomfort will eventually go away.
Once you get used to this sleeping position and follow all the tips, rest assured nothing can deter you from getting that deep peaceful sleep!
Written by Priyansh Bhattacharya
The author often finds himself shuttling between Pacific Standard Time and Indian Standard Time not because he frequents between the places but just by virtue of the timeline of his daily activities. He can also be found running in his sleep at 6 a.m during morning PT and therefore considers himself qualified to write these articles. Viewer discretion is advised. Hit him up on his email!