Are you a side sleeper? You’re not alone. As it turns out, the majority of adults prefer to sleep on one side. In terms of popularity, sleeping on your back comes in second. Stomach sleepers are a rare breed.
Sleeping on your side can be great for your health. But are you doing it right?
It turns out not everyone sleeps on their side the same way. You could be harming your spine or shoulders without realizing it. Let’s talk about how to sleep on your side the right way (a copper memory foam mattress helps).
Popular Side Sleeping Positions
Not all side sleepers are the same. And we’re not just talking about whether you sleep in your skivvies or flannel pants. There are different sleep poses for falling into deep REM sleep on your side. You will probably recognize yourself in one of the following positions.
This is the preferred pose of most side sleeper aficionados. In fact, it’s the most favored sleep position overall (take that, starfish pose). About 40% of all adults curl up into the fetal position in order to fall asleep. If you lay on your side with your knees tucked up against your chest and your back curved, you’re a fetal position sleeper.
About 13% of people say they sleep on one side with their arms stretched out in front of them. Your legs might be curled up, or they may just be slightly bent at the knees. Are you subconsciously reaching out for a lost love, or just stretching your elbows? We’ll never know.
Sleeping like a log isn’t just an expression, as it turns out. It also refers to someone who snoozes with their legs straight and their arms down by their sides. About 15% of sleepers prefer to doze off in this position. It’s certainly an efficient way to sleep if you’re sharing space on a queen or full mattress.
Is Sleeping on Your Side Good for You?
You’ve been a side sleeper your whole life, but what does that really mean? Maybe more than you think. It turns out the way you catch your z’s could affect everything from whether you get a good morning poop to how your neck feels when you wake up.
Here are some of the ways being a side sleeper can affect your health.
After you eat a Big Mac (or a veggie plate), the waste travels through your intestines and colon in stages. Sleeping on your left side allows gravity to help your waste travel through the ascending colon, transverse colon, and then the descending colon.
Helps with Blood Flow
Being a side sleeper could also improve the blood flow to your heart. When you sleep on your right side, the blood vessels responsible for pushing blood back to your heart are squished (that’s a technical term). Laying on your left, gravity and non-squished right-side vessels make it easier for blood to get back to your heart.
Keeps Back Aligned
Another reason some doctors recommend side sleeping is that it can help folks with chronic lower back pain or a herniated disc. By laying with your back curved in the fetal position, you relieve pressure between vertebrae.
On the right mattress, you’re also allowing your back to remain straight the entire night. When you sleep on your stomach or back, your spine is more likely to be unsupported near important pressure points like the hips.
Reduces Acid Reflux
Do you have painful acid reflux when you lay down at night? It could be that your stomach is positioned above your esophagus, allowing liquid reflux to creep up. In other words, the gravity you rely on during the day to keep acid where it belongs has been neutralized.
Sleeping on your left side can help solve the problem. It puts your stomach below your esophagus and while you may still have some gas reflux – the most painful acid reflux symptoms will probably decrease.
Keeps Your Neck Neutral
Just like being a side sleeper can help your back remain aligned, your neck may thank you in the morning. Laying on your back can force your neck forward if your pillow is too high. Laying on your stomach could mean your neck is at a 45-degree angle all night (so you can put your face against the pillow). When you’re on your side, you’re more likely to have an aligned neck, which does everything from reducing headaches to helping eliminate sleep apnea.
Makes Your Brain Healthier
Your brain needs to clear out certain chemicals and waste from time to time. When it doesn’t, the build–up could lead to disorders like Alzheimer’s Disease. A lot of this clean up happens when you’re asleep. Researchers at Stony Brook University found that sleeping on your side could allow your brain to more efficiently remove waste and keep your brain healthy.
Be a Better Side Sleeper
So, yes, side sleeping is a winning idea. But there are ways to make it an even better habit. Figuring out how to sleep on your side without hurting your shoulder, and ways to support your hips mean you’ll wake up pain–free and ready to rock the day.
Here are a few tips for improving your sleep style on your side.
Put a Pillow Between Your Knees
The Mayo Clinic recommends sleeping with a pillow between your knees. They say this can take some strain off your back to ensure you wake up feeling like you don’t sit cooped up at a desk for 8 hours a day.
Customize Your Pillow Height
If your neck is propped up super high, you lose that neutral position that helps keep headaches away. Be the best side sleeper you can be by using a pillow that keeps your neck aligned with the rest of your spine.
Get a Contouring Mattress
Shoulder pain is one of the main complaints of side sleepers. Sure, your lower back feels great, but wearing your purse or laptop bag now feels like an Olympic feat. The best memory foam mattress for side sleepers is designed to support your pressure points (including your shoulders). You want a mattress that adapts to your shape rather than one that just sags down according to your weight.
Side Sleeper Quiz
Thinking of training yourself to be a side sleeper? Take this quiz and see if it makes sense for you. If you currently sleep on your back or stomach – or toss and turn all over the place – it might be time to switch it up.
Does your lower back hurt in the morning? If your lumbar region feels terrible in the morning, sleeping on your side could be a good natural treatment.
Does sleep apnea plague your sleep? Laying on your back often causes your throat muscles to relax too much and restrict your breathing. Becoming a side sleeper could possibly mean you don’t rely so much on a CPAP (with permission from your doctor, of course).
Are you a big snorer? Back sleeping can often make snoring worse. Switching to your side may be in order.
Do you take up too much space for comfort? If your partner complains about you kicking them in your sleep or taking up 75% of the bed, you can be more efficient with your half of the bed by changing positions.
Layla Sleep for Your Side Sleeping Position
Figuring out how to sleep on your side has a lot to do with your bedding. And deciding between a firm or soft mattress is just the beginning.
Does your mattress trap heat or wick it away from your body? Does the foam recovery time make it easy to switch sleeping sides? You can solve your problems by going with a Layla Mattress.
Our copper-infused memory foam mattress had two firmness options, wicks heat away from your body, features antimicrobial properties, and is super-duper comfortable. You can also take some of the fill out of the matching memory foam pillow until it’s just the right height.
When it comes to memory foam vs spring mattresses for side sleepers, it’s not even close. Go Layla all the way.