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What is the best sleeping position?

Have you ever woken with a stiff neck, achy back, or throbbing shoulder? You might’ve figured that you “slept wrong.” This isn’t hard to believe, considering that sometimes during sleep we throw pillows, steal blankets and make weird noises. However, is there truly an optimal sleeping position?

Side sleepers are a majority, but some people sleep on their stomachs or even *gasp* on their back! There truly is no one optimal sleep position for everyone and for every problem (joint pain, sleep apnea, neck pain). That’s because different positions can exacerbate different problems. Or, in the case of lower back pain, there doesn’t seem to be any particularly beneficial position.

Let’s break it down by each problem:

Best Sleeping Position for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Pesky wrist and hand pain caused by carpal tunnel can be exacerbated by sleep position. Side sleepers are more likely to bend and put pressure on their wrist when they sleep. With that being said, wrist position is ultimately more important. So, if you can sleep on your side while keeping your wrist straight, that might be fine.

Best Sleeping Position For Lower Back Pain

There might be some benefit to sleeping on your side, but overall there’s not much correlation between sleep position and lower back pain. However, if one particular position bothers you, change it! Try adding pillows under your knees to relieve some pressure on your back. Mattress firmness is also important for lower back pain (more firm is better).

Best Sleeping Position For Snoring and Sleep Apnea

According to Johns Hopkins, people who snore or suffer from sleep apnea are better off sleeping on their side or stomach. Constriction of the airway is the main cause of both problems, and it’s most likely to occur when you sleep on your back. You can try playing around with different pillows as well to see if larger or smaller pillows help.

Best Sleeping Position For Heartburn/Acid Reflux

Avoid sleeping on your right side if you suffer from acid reflux. It can exacerbate your problem by affecting the flow of acid as you sleep. Sleeping on your left side, however, is perfectly fine.

Best Sleeping Position For Wrinkles/Acne

Sleeping on your stomach with your face in your pillow can actually contribute to wrinkles and acne, according to the University of California at San Diego. Sleeping on your back is preferable for both conditions because your face isn’t pressed into the pillow.

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