According to new research from the Mayo Clinic and Harvard University, it all depends on your health. Because healthy people change sleep positions an average of a dozen times a night. And researchers say it’s a good thing because when we sleep in the same position night after night, we’re consistently compressing one side of the body, while stretching the other. And over time, that creates an imbalance that causes pain in muscles and joints.
But it turns out, there are some health conditions that can actually be made better by choosing a specific sleep position. For example:
- If you’re a snorer, then sleep on your side. In fact, research shows that 1-in-10 heavy snoring patients can be cured just by sleeping on their side! That’s because side-sleeping stops your tongue from sliding back, and blocking your airway, which is what triggers snoring. It’s why some experts recommend snorers sew a tennis ball to the back of their PJs, so you’ll be less likely to roll onto your back during sleep.
- If you have acid reflux, sleep on your left side. Studies show that sleeping on your right side may increase heartburn symptoms, because stomach acid takes longer to clear out of your esophagus when you lay on your right side. But lying on the left side relaxes a muscle in the lower esophagus, allowing less acid to come in contact with delicate tissues and cause burning. Plus, it creates more room in the stomach for acids to pool, making it less likely they’ll come back up and bother you.
- If you have back pain, that’s when it’s best to sleep on your back. Try putting a pillow under your knees, and sleeping with the legs bent, to take pressure off nerves in the lower back.
Which sleep position should you avoid? Sleeping on your stomach. It’s not recommended because when you sleep face down, you have to turn your neck to the side to breath, which compresses joints and triggers neck pain.