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What is the best position to sleep in?

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The way we sleep has an impact on our health. Staying in the wrong position for several hours can lead to a stiff neck, a numb arm or sleep apnea. On your back, on your stomach, on your side or as a fetus, what is the best position to sleep in?

According to a British study, 41% of sleepers adopt the fetal position to sleep. 28% sleep on their side, 13% on their back and 7% on their stomach. However, the position in which we sleep directly impacts the quality of our awakening and can aggravate certain health problems. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of each position.

Sleeping on your back
Sleeping on your back, with your arms on either side of your body, is considered the best position for your health. The body is in a neutral position and the neck is well supported by the pillow (not too thick). Moreover, you will not have the skin of your face all crumpled up when you wake up. If your legs are too tense for your taste, place a small pillow under your knees. Sleeping on your back, however, is not recommended for people who are prone to snoring and sleep apnea, as it causes the throat muscles to relax.

Dormir sur le dos : déconseillé aux ronfleurs. © Good Studio, Adobe Stock
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Sleeping on the stomach
This position is the least adapted: it generates tensions in the cervical muscles and a hollowing of the back. The result: a good stiff neck and a backache when you wake up. The weight on the thoracic cage may also limit breathing capacity. Sleeping on your stomach is also not recommended for pregnant women or women with large breasts. If, in spite of everything, it is your favorite position, choose a flat pillow so as not to force too much on the neck muscles, with a rather firm mattress.

Dormir sur le ventre : gare au torticolis. © Good Studio, Adobe Stock

Sleeping on your side
When you sleep on your side, the vertebrae of your neck are not aligned with those of the spine below, which can cause back problems. It is therefore advisable to choose a pillow thick enough to relieve pressure on the shoulders and to raise one knee to relieve tension in the hips. Sleeping on the same side all the time can also cause nerves and muscles to be crushed. You may wake up with a numb bottom. To avoid this, move your shoulder slightly forward so that your arm is not “trapped”.

Dormir sur le côté : avec un gros oreiller. © Good Studio, Adobe Stock

In the fetal position
This position adopted by a majority of people is the most relaxing because it allows the muscles to relax naturally. It also relieves gastroesophageal reflux and heartburn. However, it is not ideal. The spine is rounded and the rib cage does not have enough room to open, which can hinder breathing. In this position, it is advisable to extend one leg and bend the other to relieve the pelvis, with a pillow between the knees.

In any case, try to change position regularly during the night. This way, the potential muscular tensions are distributed.

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