While sleeping on the back is considered one of the optimal sleep positions, other ideal sleeping positions can provide health benefits.
One such position is sleeping on the side, also known as the lateral position. This position can be beneficial for those with sleep apnea or snoring, as it can help to keep the airway open and prevent obstruction.
Sleeping on the side can also help to reduce acid reflux and heartburn, as the head and torso are aligned and the stomach acid is less likely to flow back into the oesophagus.
Additionally, sleeping on the side can help to maintain the natural curvature of the spine, which can alleviate pressure on the muscles and joints and prevent chronic pain. Lorrain et al. conducted a laboratory study on elderly subjects (four men and four women between the ages of 65 and 75) and found that the preferred sleeping position was the side position (77% of the time), followed by the back position (19%).
Only 2% of people slept in the front position. In the current study, we found that as people got older, they spent more time in the side position and less time in the back position. The proportion of time spent on the side, back, and the front was 58.3%, 32.8%, and 7.7%, respectively, in the age group 55–65.
Another optimal sleep position is the foetal position, which involves sleeping on the side with the knees bent and the head tucked into the chest. This position can provide a sense of security and comfort and can help to alleviate stress and anxiety. It can also help to reduce snoring and sleep apnea, as the airway remains open and unobstructed.
Additionally, the foetal position can help to maintain the natural curvature of the spine and can prevent pressure on the joints and muscles. If you're in a comfortable position, deep breathing while you sleep may be limited. Make sure your posture is relatively loose. Also, sleeping in a foetal position can make you sore in the morning if you have joint pain or stiffness issues.
Overall, while sleeping on the back is considered one of the optimal sleep positions, there are other ideal sleeping positions, such as the lateral position and the foetal position, that can provide health benefits and improve overall sleep quality. Individuals need to experiment with different positions and find what works best for them.