(Photo: wenmei Zhou via Getty Images)
Want to reduce your risk of back pain and get a decent night’s rest? Sleeping on your back could be the answer, according to a sleep expert.
Just 10% of people sleep in the optimal position, according to Kiera Pritchard. In comparison, three quarters (74%) of us are side sleepers while 16% of people are stomach sleepers.
“Sleeping on your back is the most recommended position because the vertebrae in your back can align naturally in a neutral position without any kinks or curves,” says Prichard, who’s working with Eachnight Mattresses.
“Sleeping on your back may be healthier for your spine whereas sleeping on your right side is beneficial for your heart. Stomach sleeping is the only position that is considered unhealthy as it is very stressful on your spine.”
Around one in six people in England have back pain, according to the NHS. And Pritchard says your sleeping routine could be a contributing factor.
“If you have existing back pain, you might be getting less sleep because you are being woken by the pain, and the lack of sleep can also contribute to back pain because your body does not have enough time to restore its tissues while you sleep,” she says.
“A recent study found living with chronic pain can cost a person 42 minutes of sleep and acute pain episodes can cost 14 minutes of sleep.”
Everyone’s body is different, so some sleep positions may be better for you based on your height, weight, or previous injuries. But Pritchard says “back sleeping is the most recommended position for those with back pain”.
An added bonus, is that dermatologists also say this is the best position for reducing wrinkles.
“If you struggle to sleep on your back, side sleeping or sleeping in the foetal position is preferable to stomach sleeping,” Pritchard adds. “Side sleepers who cannot make the change to back sleeping are encouraged to use a pillow between their knees which aligns the hip flexors and neutralise the spine. Snorers should also sleep on their side, as back sleeping can make snoring worse.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.