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Could your sleeping position be making you ill? A host of ailments can be fixed simply by changing the way you lie
- Common maladies can be made worse by poor sleeping patterns and habits
- Luckily, these can be easily adjusted and may even help you recover quicker
- Experts give their recommendations for the best positions to sleep in
A bad night's sleep isn't just unpleasant, it's dangerous.
Existing problems like a bad back, period pains or even a cold can be worsened by sleeping poorly. The position you sleep in can have a lot to with this.
The way you sleep affects the way blood moves around your body, as well as putting pressure on various parts of your body for many hours at a time, which may impair circulation.
If you find your sleeping position uncomfortable, or wake from a troubled night not feeling rested: there are a few different positions you can try to manage your discomfort.
A bad night's sleep isn't just unpleasant, it can be dangerous
Acid reflux is a burning feeling in the chest caused by stomach acid travelling up towards the throat, casually known as heartburn.
Eating a large meal right before bed increases the chance of gettin heart burn. However, some people may be predisposed to it, or suffer from gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD).
If you are suffering from acid reflux, lie on your right side, with your arms out in front of you. Your knees should be bent and slightly pulled up towards your abdomen.
Dr John de Caestecker, consultant gastroenterologist from University Hospitals Leicester, told the Mirror: ''The gullet joins the stomach on the left side so by lying on the right, food can move more effectively through the digestive tract.
'If you do have to eat late, research shows raising the head of the bed a few inches can alleviate symptoms. It's a much better option than adding more pillows, which you're likely to roll off and can crease you up in the middle and hinder digestion,' he said.
A bad sleeping position can actually exacerbate problems with your back and spine.
As before, lay your arms out in front of you. Lie on either side, bending your knees slightly and try to keep your hips in line with the rest of your body, as opposed to curling inward.
Place a pillow between your knees that they rest about the width of your hips apart. This position may feel strange at first, but you should persist beyond the feeling.
You should not sleep on your back if you're suffering from a cold, or anything that stuffs the sinuses.
Instead, you should lie on your side with extra pillows to elevate your head, to help the congestion to drain naturally.
You may need to experiment with adjusting your arms and legs so that they are comfortable as well.
Grinding your teeth and snoring can be partly addressed by changing the way you sleep
Unusually, you actually should lie on your back for period-related pain.
Put a pillow underneath your knees to take pressure off your upper back (you can use two if you're still uncomfortable).
Sleeping on your side would put pressure on the breasts, while sleeping face down puts pressure on the uterus, only making symptoms worse.
Painful hips from running
Once again, you should sleep on your back. This takes pressure off your hips, which can become swollen after too much running – a condition known as bursitis.
Chartered physio Sammy Margo, author of The Good Sleep Guide says: 'Side-lying puts pressure on your hips.
'Dozing on your back gives your hips a break from the stress of walking and sitting all day.
'If it feels good, prop a pillow under your knees for added support.'
You should sleep on your back with your neck as straight as possible to prevent it from crinking.
If you grind your teeth while you sleep
Grinding your teeth at night is said to affect 8 per cent of adults and can, obviously, damage your teeth, as well as change the overall shape of your face.
By lying on your back, your jaw muscles should naturally sag and stretch with gravity.
Keep your arms relaxed but straight at either side, because we naturally tend to roll toward bent arms.
Snoring can actually be resolved by lying on your front – but it's not necessarily advisable.
When you lie on your front your throat muscles don't fall backwards, which causes snoring.
However, for a lot of the above mentioned problems: lying on your front can make things worse.
'When lying on the front, too many or too few pillows will affect the neck position and put it out of alignment with the spine.
'This ups the likelihood of nerve compression, especially in older people,' says Sammy.