The position in which you sleep plays a huge role in the quality and quantity of your sleep as well as the prevention of aches and pains. Identifying the best sleeping position for you can be the difference between a long, restful sleep and no sleep at all!
If you regularly suffer from a particular bodily ache or pain, identifying and buying the best mattress for that particular niggle is the first thing to consider. If you are happy with your current mattress but still find it difficult to get comfortable at night it may be worth considering experimenting with your sleeping position to find the best one for you.
Common Sleeping Positions
We will first look at the most common sleeping positions, these are the positions the vast majority of people sleep in. We will then look at the best sleeping positions for various common aches and pains.
Sleeping on your side
In this position, a person sleeps on their side with their legs extended straight, or in some cases one leg slightly bent.
This is a very common sleeping position, based on our Big Irish Sleep Survey, over 65% of people in Ireland are side sleepers!
Does your partner snore? If so this is the best sleeping position for them! This position helps reduce snoring as the airway is less likely to become restricted even when the body is relaxed.
Studies show sleeping on the left side is great for digestion and reduces heartburn as the right side can cause acid reflux.
Some issues with sleeping on your side are that it may cause jaw tightness or, if you are prone to acne, it can cause break outs as your face is stuck to the pillow for 8 hours a night.
The Fetal Position
In this position the sleeper lies on their side with their legs bent and curled up towards their stomach area. A variation on side sleeping, this is a very popular sleeping position particularly among women who are almost twice as likely to sleep in the fetal position as men.
This position can help with lower back pain and is a great sleeping position for pregnant women.
Some may find that sleeping in the fetal position causes them to be stiff and experience joint pain, if that is the case make sure your body is loose and relaxed when trying this position, a top tip is sleeping with a pillow between your legs to feel more comfortable.
Sleeping on your back
One of the least common sleeping positions, based on our Big Irish Sleep Survey, only 6.5% of people in Ireland sleep on their backs.
If you suffer from back, neck or shoulder pain then this is probably the best sleeping position for you as it allows your spine and neck to be in their natural alignment.
Unfortunately, this position is not great for those that snore or who suffer from sleep apnoea.
Sleeping on your stomach / front
There are minimal benefits to sleeping on your stomach, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t comfortable! Our ‘Big Irish Sleep Survey 2020’ found this to be the second most popular position with around 15% of Irish people stating that they prefer to sleep on their stomach.
Sleeping in this position increases the risk of neck and back pain as it flattens the natural curvature of your spine and puts stress on the muscles that protect this area.
One tip is to sleep with a pillow propped under your forehead and spine to keep them in a neutral position. The pillow under your stomach can also help reduce back pain when lying in the position, or having a memory foam mattress helps relief the pressure on your back and joints but it is one position that doesn’t have many benefits to it compared to others.
Best sleeping positions for aches and pains
In this section we look at the sleeping positions that help alleviate some common aches and pains. These positions, especially when combined with the right mattress, can help those that suffer from aches and pains get the best possible nights sleep. Remember, every person is different, there is no one best sleeping position that works for everyone. You will need to experiment to find the position best suited to your needs.
One of the most common ailments, back pain has a negative impact not only on day to day life, it also takes its toll on your sleep. Finding a sleeping position that helps alleviate the pain is crucial, our in depth guide to the best sleeping positions for back pain outlines the best options.
Neck pain can occur as a result of muscle strain, injury or poor posture. Finding a comfortable sleeping position when suffering from neck pain is often incredibly difficult, we cover the best sleeping positions for neck pain in our comprehensive guide.
Those unfortunate enough to suffer from hip pain often wake during the night due to the pain. Others struggle to find the best sleeping position to allow them to fall asleep to begin with. Our guide to the best sleeping positions for hip pain discusses the sleeping positions that may help alleviate discomfort and help with a better nights sleep.
There are sleeping positions that work best for pregnant women and are commonly recommended, there are also specific sleeping positions that should be avoided during pregnancy, our guide to the best sleeping positions during pregnancy covers both these topics. We hope this guide helps all you pregnant mums-to-be find a sleeping position that will help you to avoid sleepless nights!