Finding a sleeping position is key to sleeping comfortably and soundly, and research shows that some positions are better for you than others.
Mattress companies like Purple, now available at all of our Mattress Express locations, realize that not everyone has the same needs when it comes to getting a quality night of sleep. They carry a variety of mattresses with different firmness levels to please sleepers of every kind and even offer pillows in a variety of thicknesses.
Best Sleeping Position: Side Sleeper
If you prefer to sleep on your side with your hip and shoulder cradled into your mattress, you are classified as a side sleeper.
Side sleeping is the most common sleeping position. Studies show that over 50% of the world’s population sleeps on their side throughout their entire sleep cycle.
This is understandable, as the side sleeping position is said to be gentler on your neck, better for your brain health, increases circulation and healthy blood flow, controls heartburn, prevents bloating and reduces constipation.
Sleeping on your side with proper spinal alignment helps alleviate pressure on your back that can cause back pain, reduces joint pain and lessens chronic pain associated with long-term conditions like fibromyalgia. Side sleeping can help improve brain function by removing toxins and cleansing the brain. It also promotes a healthy digestive system and eases gastrointestinal issues.
Side sleeping is the best position to sleep for snorers as it helps keep airways open. Snoring is a common symptom of obstructive sleep apnea, a serious condition that creates disruptions in breathing and can lead to long-term complications such as hypertension, arrhythmia, diabetes, heart attack, stroke and cognitive issues.
Right Side vs. Left Side
When it comes to sleeping on your side, the side you choose can affect the way you sleep. Sleeping on your left side is associated with a whole range of benefits to your overall health due to the anatomy of your body or the actual location of certain body organs.
Sleeping on your right side may increase pressure on your internal organs, so experts recommend sleeping on your left side if you are pregnant or suffer from acid reflux. Sleeping on your right side is known to intensify symptoms of heartburn, acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease, often known as GERD.
You do not have to stick with one position the entire night, so start on one side and see how your body feels. Shifting around while you sleep from side to side or even to a different position during the night is not unusual.
Various Side-Sleeping Positions
Those sleeping in the fetal position curl up like a newborn baby, with knees drawn up to the chest. This position gives a sense of comfort and security. It tends to be the most common side position, but it can cause unnecessary strain on the spine and lower back. It can even harm the stomach if the legs are held too tightly to the body.
Arms Down and Close to Your Body
This is the second most common side sleeping position and is referred to as the log. Your legs are extended and your arms are straight down close to your body. This position keeps your spine in proper alignment, but you may experience a dead or numb arm when you awake.
Arms Stretched Out in Front of Your Body
This position, called the yearner, is the least common side sleeping position. Your legs are straight like the log position but your arms are extended out in front of you away from your body.
Embracing Your Pillow by Holding it Closely
As a side sleeper that sleeps in the fetal position or the yearner position you may embrace a pillow in your arms at night as well. Snuggling with a pillow provides warmth and security as you sleep.
Resting Your Chin on Your Hand
A variation of the yearner position, you may sleep in the thinker position as well. These sleepers rest their chins on their hands, as if deep in thought.
Avoid Pain While Side Sleeping
Sleeping on your side is comfortable as long as you maintain proper spinal alignment. If not, you may experience shoulder pain, neck pain, or muscle imbalance.
Be mindful of where your chin is placed and keep your head up on the pillow. If your chin is tucked toward your chest it will create neck pain. As a side sleeper you should also consider keeping your arms by your side to avoid pinching your lower shoulder when you sleep with your arms above your head. Sleeping with a pillow between the legs can also ease stress on the lower back.
Best Mattresses for Side Sleepers
There are several factors you should consider when looking for a mattress if you are a side sleeper.
First of all, the firmness level of your mattress is extremely important. You may already have a firmness preference for your mattress but when it comes to side sleeping, a mattress that falls somewhere between firm and soft is the best choice.
The best mattress for side sleepers should have the right combination of comfort and support because one side of your body is bearing all your weight.
A mattress that is too soft will not hold your spine in proper alignment and will not offer very much joint support. While you may find the softness of a plush mattress comfortable on your shoulders and knees when you first go to bed, your joints may sink too far into the mattress over the course of the night and leave you feeling achy in the morning.
A mattress that is too firm will not conform to the curves of your hip and your shoulder properly. If there is too much pressure on these areas, it can be impossible to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night.
A medium-firm mattress, like the Purple Hybrid or the Purple Premier 3, is the best type of mattress for side sleep. It will support the heavier parts of your body but still cradle your hips and shoulders in their most natural position. The Purple Premier 4, although it has an extra thick, plush comfort layer, it still has the necessary support needed with its coil support unit for side sleepers to sleep comfortably.
Also, consider the material your mattress is made out of. Some materials are better for side sleepers than others. Different options include memory foam, hybrid, latex, air and other unique materials like Purple’s GelFlex Grid.
Purple’s grid is designed to conform around your hips and shoulders while fully supporting your back. It is a perfect choice for side sleepers.
The final decision will be the size of your mattress. Since side sleepers often prefer to sleep with their knees bent or with one or both arms out in front of them, you may require more room than back or stomach sleepers need to stay comfortable while you sleep.
Bedding for Side Sleepers
Using the right pillow at the right height is especially crucial for side sleepers to get the most comfortable night of sleep. Be sure to choose a pillow with a thickness that matches the distance between your neck and your shoulder. It will keep your neck aligned with your spine and prevent the pain and soreness associated with an unsupportive pillow, or one that is too high and raises your head at an angle too high above your shoulder. You also can put pillows on either side of your body to keep yourself in place or place a small pillow between the knees to even out the hips.
The Purple Harmony Pillow is the best side sleeper pillow since it comes in three styles: low profile, medium profile and tall profile. You can choose the thickness that works best for your body frame. The Purple Harmony Pillow provides just the right amount of comfort and support you need with its innovative 360º Purple Grid™ Hex technology surrounding its hypoallergenic Talalay latex core.
Side sleeping tends to be the best position to sleep overall as it has many health benefits and is the most common. In the end, it’s important to allow your body to help you decide which sleeping position is best for you. Consider your body’s personal preferences when looking for a mattress. What mattress feels best for you and will help you sleep through the night?
No matter what sleeping position you choose, a proper pillow and quality mattress that is suited for the position is critical. Stop by any of our Mattress Express locations so one of our sleep specialists can help you find what Purple mattress works best for you.