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Sharp Health News

Which sleep position is best for you? (infographic)

May 17, 2016

Few things are more beneficial for the body than a good night of sleep. But many of us struggle with restless nights and chronic pain due to the way that we position our head and body. Dr. Gary Levinson, a double board-certified internal medicine and sleep medicine doctor with Sharp Rees-Stealy, breaks down the most common sleeping positions and explains the optimal way to sleep — so you can get the rest you need.

Which sleep position is best for you? We spend about 33 percent of our time asleep – making our usual sleep position an important factor in our overall health. A better sleep position can lead to steady sleep, improved breathing and pain relief. Our sleep expert explains the pros and cons of each sleep position so that you can make the best choice for you. Side Sleepers: Side sleeping is the most common sleeping position – with women being twice as likely to sleep this way. It improves circulation to the heart and eases heartburn and acid reflux. However, it puts pressure on the stomach and lungs, and can restrict blood flow on a single arm. Stomach Sleepers: Only 11 percent of people sleep on their stomach, which is regarded as the least favorable sleeping position. While it greatly reduces snoring – which is about all it’s good for – it also compresses your internal organs and spine, causing neck and lower-back pain. Back sleepers: Back Sleepers
Sleeping on your back with your head elevated 10 to 30 degrees is considered the healthiest sleep position. It supports the spine, promoting back and neck health. Unfortunately, it also obstructs your airway and worsens sleep apnea and snoring. “Sleep disorders can be exacerbated by your position, the softness of your mattress and the placement of your pillow,” says Dr. Gary Levinson, sleep expert at Sharp Memorial Hospital. “Make sure your mattress is firm enough so that your spine is in a straight line. Your pillow should provide neck support between your head and chest – keeping it well aligned while minimizing pain and ensuring an open airway during sleep.”

View the printable version of this infographic.

For the media: To talk with a Sharp doctor about sleep position and health, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at

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