Actually falling asleep isn't the only thing required to get a good night's rest. If you're sleeping in the wrong position, you can wake up feeling groggier, grumpier, and achier than you did when you first crawled into bed. The best sleep position isn't necessarily what feels most comfortable for you at the start of the night: Whether you're pregnant, suffer from sleep apnea, or experience back and neck pain, experts agree that sleeping on your side will have the most positive effects on your body, Mic reports.
More so than sleeping on your back or stomach, side sleeping is the key to a restful, healthful night. That's because lying on your side with a pillow under your head naturally aligns your spine. When your back is straight, it relieves pressure from muscles that would otherwise be straining to support your body throughout the night. Neck and lower back pains and even more severe conditions like sciatica are often the result of raising your head too high or twisting your spine as you sleep.
A straight spine isn't the only benefit of sleeping on your side. If you have sleep apnea, a disorder characterized by disrupted breathing during the night, side sleeping can ease your symptoms by keeping airways open. It's also the best position to sleep in if you're pregnant. Sleeping on your side removes pressure from the belly, and if you sleep on your left side, it can promote oxygen flow to the placenta.
Whether or not you're pregnant, the left side is still the best position for catching your ZZZs. It's better for your organs, encourages lymph system drainage, and reduces symptoms of acid reflux. But if you can't resist facing the right, you could still reap other side-sleeping benefits like the delayed onset of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
To maximize the positive effects of sleeping on your side, you need the right tools. A pillow that raises your head to be level with the rest of your spine (meaning it's not too low or too high) is essential, as is a firm mattress that supports your body. To maintain the side position throughout the night and relieve pressure from your joints, invest in additional pillows for your torso and between your knees (or get one big body pillow that's built for side sleepers to snuggle up with).
Of course, everyone is different, and switching to your side won't necessarily fix all your sleep-related issues. In order to determine which position best fits your needs, check out these tips.