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How the sleeping position affects sleep quality
Most people probably don't think much about whether their favorite position when falling asleep is also the most suitable position in terms of sleep quality. Are some sleeping positions better than others? "Yes," says a renowned sleep expert. The position while sleeping can have a positive or negative impact on existing symptoms.
Dr. Rachel Salas is a neurologist at Johns Hopkins University. She is an expert in sleep research and explains why some sleeping positions are more suitable for certain people than others.
In young people, the sleeping position is rather unimportant
Like Dr. Salas reports that the sleeping position is less important for young and healthy people. "But as you get older and have more medical conditions, the sleeping position can have both positive and negative effects," says the neurologist.
For back and neck pain
The sleep expert points out that people who often suffer from neck pain may get worse if they sleep face up. However, if there is increased pain in the lower back, it can be helpful to sleep on the back.
Snoring and sleep apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea causes breathing interruptions during sleep. Sleep apnea is often accompanied by snoring. According to Salas, lying on your side and lying on your stomach can help keep your airways open and reduce snoring sounds. This can alleviate mild apnea.
Reflux, heartburn and pregnancy
Those who suffer from heartburn frequently should not sleep on the right side, according to Salas, otherwise the symptoms could worsen. This also applies to pregnant women and people suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease. The reason for this is the human anatomy. When lying on the left side, the stomach is in a lower position than the esophagus so that less acid can escape.
If you sleep on your side or on your stomach frequently, you will have noticed a crumpled face after getting up. "Over time, this can lead to chronic changes in the skin," explains Salas. If you are worried about wrinkles on your face, you should sleep better on your back if there is no other reason.
Neck or shoulder pain
As mentioned above, a lateral position is more helpful for neck or shoulder pain. This effect can be enhanced if a support pillow is used to support the head. If there is pain in the lower back at the same time, a cushion or cushion between the legs can help to support the legs in order to relieve the pressure on the lower back.
The sleeping environment also counts
In conclusion, Dr. Salas added a few tips about the sleeping environment: "Wash the sheets regularly and vacuum the mattress to remove dust and dander that can cause allergies and affect your sleep." The bedroom should be as dark as possible. Blinds and curtains should be drawn up in the morning to reset the internal clock. Devices that distract from sleep, such as televisions or smartphones, should be banned from the bedroom. (vb)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: Choosing the Best Sleep Position (accessed: November 22, 2019), hopkinsmedicine.org