The Wall Street Journal - January 14, 2013
Stomach, Back or Side? How You Slumber Can Aggravate Pain, Prevent the Body From Bouncing Back
Tossing and turning all night to find that perfect sleeping position? WSJ's Sumathi Reddy joins Lunch Break with new findings on which positions could help you rest up more efficiently. Photo: Getty Images.
Tossing and turning all night to find that perfect sleeping position?
Experts say there is no one right way to sleep. But for people with certain types of pain and medical conditions, there are positions that can help keep problems from getting worse and may even alleviate them. In some cases, sleeping in the same position night after night can itself create pain, such as neck or shoulder problems.
"It's important that people take time to think about how they position themselves when they sleep," said Peggy Brill, a Manhattan orthopedic physical therapist. "Rest is important for the muscular skeletal system to recover" from the day's stresses, she said. "The proteins get back into the muscles, there's rejuvenation of the body, so you want to be in a healthy anatomical position when you sleep."
The most common sleeping position is on the side—57% of us at least start the night in that position, according to a nationwide survey of more than 2,000 people performed for mattress maker Tempur-Pedic TPX +6.36%North America. That's followed by the back—17% of people opt for this position—and the stomach, 11%. Most of the remaining respondents said their position when they first go to bed varies each night.
Moving around during the night is common. Videotaped sleep studies have found that adults might change their position between three and 36 times a night, with the average person switching about a dozen times. The tendency to shift in one's sleep decreases with age.