Sleeping on your side – dos and don’ts

06 October 2020

We run through everything you should know about resting on your side.

Sleeping on your side

DO sleep on your left-hand side

Our stomach’s natural position is on the left hand side. By resting on the same side of your body, you allow your digestive system to work more efficiently. Blood flows more easily and your body doesn’t have to fight gravity in order to process your food. The position even reduces your chance of heartburn and acid reflux symptoms. Just remember, ‘left is right and right is wrong’.

DON’T twist your body

When sleeping on your side it can be tempting to twist your body as you turn to face a different direction. Rather than rotating at the waist you should try to move your body as one unit. Pull your stomach tight and bend your knees towards your chest as you roll into a new position. If you concentrate on keeping your ears, shoulders and hips aligned, you’ll prevent any unnecessary stress on the spine.

DO start the day with a stretch

Many of us sleep on our sides while assuming the foetal position. With our backs rounded and shoulders curled up for around eight hours our joints and muscles can ache in the morning. It’s important to reduce the chances of becoming stiff, and wake up by stretching a few key areas. There are plenty of online videos that can help target potential problems in the back, neck, hips and arms.

DON’T sleep on your arm

The ‘arm under pillow’ is popular among side sleepers but should be avoided at all costs. It may feel comfortable, but the position can cause pain and numbness in the shoulder. We tend to slip an arm under our heads when a pillow doesn’t provide enough support. Buying a firmer pillow should reduce the need to move your arm below the head and leave it in a more natural position.

DO use a maternity pillow

During pregnancy, an increase in body weight can put stress on the back, hips and legs. From around the 20th week of carrying a baby, a woman can use carefully placed pillows or a full-length maternity pillow to help alleviate some of the pain. The custom-made options fit between the legs and wrap around both sides of the body for comfort and encourage expectant mothers to sleep in a way that improves blood circulation.

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