Did you know that the most common sleep position is sleeping on your side. In fact, a study found that 74% of Americans are side sleepers. This is good news because sleeping on your side has many benefits. When you sleep on a supportive mattress with the correct pillow, side sleeping helps keep your spine aligned with your neck and head. Keeping your head, neck and spine aligned and in a neutral position is the most comfortable way to sleep and the healthiest.
Why it's Good to Sleep on Your Side
Side sleepers can rest easy knowing that they are evading discomfort experienced by those that sleep on their stomachs. A stomach sleeper's spine is often curved unnaturally, causing restless sleep, if one can sleep at all. When you sleep on your stomach and use a pillow, your neck is bent at an awkward angle; your hips can sink too deep into the mattress causing an unnaturally bent lower spine; and in order to breathe, you must turn your head 90 degrees to the left or right, further worsening your spinal alignment. None of this is comfortable or ideal for sleeping.
Back sleeping, though widely considered the best sleeping position, doesn't work for everyone and can lead to lower back pain and cause snoring that disrupts sleep.
So, if you are a stomach sleeper looking to get away from the worst possible sleeping position, or you are experiencing some of the discomfort associated with sleeping on your back, with a little determination and practice you can start sleeping on your side very comfortably!
How to Become a Side Sleeper
A craftsman is nothing without his or her tools, and a side sleeper is nothing without his or her pillow. So, the first step to becoming a side sleepers is investing in the best pillow. Side sleepers tend to need thick and supportive pillows to keep their spine aligned. This type of pillow will lift your head while filling the empty space between your neck, shoulder and mattress.
Another use for pillows while learning how to become a side sleeper is by using them to trick your body into thinking it's lying in a different position. Prop a body pillow under your arm if you are a stomach sleeper. And conversely, if you are a back sleeper, prop a heavier pillow behind your back. Both of these techniques will help keep your body from rolling into the unwanted position.
If the pillow trick doesn't work, try spending a few nights on a narrow sofa. The narrower the sofa the better because if the sofa is too narrow to roll onto your back or your stomach then you're less likely to do so. Spend a couple of weeks sleeping like this before returning to your bed, and you might have just trained rolling in your sleep right out of you.
Even a bit more unorthodox than the sofa sleeping tip is sewing a tennis ball into your pajamas. Some people claim to have success with this, though. For a stomach sleeper, sew the tennis ball into the front of your pajamas and for a back sleeper, sew it into the back of your pajamas. This trick works similarly to the pillow placing technique in that it warns the body to stop rolling, or it is about to be very uncomfortable sleeping on a tennis ball.
In the end, practice makes perfect. So, whenever you find yourself dozing off on your back or on your stomach, roll to your side and continue to do so. Eventually it will become a habit and you will get great sleep as a side sleeper.