LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — While it is no secret that your health, looks and general well-being are typically affected by your quality of sleep, these same areas are also impacted by the specific position in which you sleep.
Dr. Greg Vanvakaris, a professional chiropractor, says your favorite sleep position influences various physical aspects of your mind and body.
“It absolutely matters,” Vanvakaris said. “It dramatically effects the way you feel, the energy you have, the wrinkles on your face, and even your weight.”
When you don’t get enough sleep, or if your sleep is commonly disrupted throughout the night, your hormones, metabolism and appetite can all be affected.
Dr. Vanvakaris also said that the three common sleeping positions, including on your back, on your side, and on your stomach, each have a unique benefit, accompanied by equally unique, though less enjoyable, drawbacks.
Sleeping on your back is considered by many to be the most advantageous sleeping position.
The benefits of sleeping on your back include reduced back and neck pain, along with minimized wrinkles. The drawback of sleeping on your back is that it is commonly associated with snoring.
“Sleeping on your back is the absolute best position that we have,” Dr. Vanvakaris said. “It keeps you in the most mutual position, and it’s good for alleviating wrinkles on your face.”
The second sleeping position, side-sleeping, also presents strengths and flaws.
While sleeping on your side reportedly alleviates back and neck pain, and reduces snoring, the drawbacks are that it causes shoulder pain and increases wrinkles.
“(For side-sleepers) it’s better to be neutral, and swap back and forth if you can,” Dr. Vanvakaris said.
The least favorable position to sleep in, meanwhile, is considered to be on your stomach.
The primary, and allegedly exclusive, benefit of sleeping on your stomach is the reduction in snoring in some people.
The drawbacks of stomach sleeping are more diverse, including increased pressure on the spine, joints and muscles, while also increasing wrinkles, due to compression on the face.
“The worst position ever is sleeping face down,” Dr. Vanvakaris said. “Our heads get twerked all night long; it puts a tremendous amount of compression on the joints, the muscles and the spine.”
While most people have already established a favorite sleeping position, Dr. Vanvakaris says there are steps you can take, most involving pillows, to enhance your favorite position’s benefits, while reducing its drawbacks.
For back sleepers, the suggested solution is to place a pillow underneath the knees. This results in reduced stress on the hips and lower back. Also, keeping the arms down at the sides can reduce stress on the shoulder and keeps the hands away from the face, reducing wrinkles.
Side-sleepers, or “cradlers,” are advised to keep one pillow underneath the head and neck, which helps maintain a neutral position, and a larger body-pillow between the knees reduces stress on the hips and also keeps the spine in a neutral position.
While stomach sleeping is considered the least favorable position, by placing a flat pillow under the head, along with a normal pillow under the hips, an amount of stress is alleviated from the back, along with small amounts of stress reduction in the shoulders and neck.
Additionally, Vanvakaris says that if you are concerned or unhappy with the position you generally sleep in, there is a way to train yourself to avoid it at night, using what he calls the Sleep Strap.
The Sleep Strap has a ball attached near the sternum, which can be used to prevent yourself from rolling onto your stomach in your sleep.
“You put (the) ball underneath your sternum, so that when you roll over, it irritates you a little bit, and causes you to re-train to turn back on your side or your back, keep you off your face. You have to try to re-train your brain or you will cause yourself a lot more problems in the future.”
For more information on the Sleep Strap, go to thesleepstrap.com.
For more information on The Health Spot chiropractic and wellness center, visit the-health-spot.com.