What’s the best sleeping position? Sorry to say, it’s not on your back

  • Evidence shows that sleeping on your side may be the best way to doze off, as it can reduce snoring and help people with back and neck pain
  • While sleeping on your stomach can keep your airway open, it can strain your spine
Tribune News Service |

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There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep. Photo: Shutterstock

Most people spend a third of their lives either asleep or resting, according to the Sleep Foundation. During sleep, the body recharges and repairs itself. And a good night’s sleep often can be determined by what position you are lying in bed.

Back-sleepers beware.

“I know many people find it comfortable, because they’re not putting weight on their joints,” says Dr Lois Krahn, a sleep specialist at the world-famous Mayo Clinic in the US state of Minnesota.

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But Mayo Clinic experts say sleeping on your back is actually the worst sleeping position, especially if you have sleep apnoea.

“Sleeping on the back means that your tongue and jaw can fall down and crowd your airway. And many people snore more on their back,” said Dr Krahn.

Sleeping on your stomach helps keep the airway open, but it can put a strain on your spine and neck.

You’re less likely to snore when you’re sleeping on your side. Photo: Shutterstock

“There’s a host of evidence overall suggesting that probably sleeping on the side is better,” says Dr Virend Somers, a cardiologist and director of the sleep facility within Mayo Clinic’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science.

Side sleeping helps prevent the airway from collapsing and can reduce snoring.

“And so, all in all, sleeping on the side – perhaps with your head slightly elevated as long as that’s comfortable – is a good way to sleep,” said Dr Krahn.

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Sleeping on your side also is considered by the Sleep Foundation as the best for people with neck and back pain, especially if you place a small pillow between your knees.

“Because if you don’t have a pillow between your knees, that stress of sleeping on the side pulls on your hip and can cause some issues,” says Dr. Somers.

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