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In his study on sleep position and personality, Professor Chris Idzikowski, director of the Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service at the Edinburgh Sleep Centre in Scotland also examined the effect of various sleeping positions on health.

He concluded that the freefall position where the sleeper lies on their front with their hands around the pillow was good for digestion.

The starfish position where the sleeper lies on their back with both arms up around the pillow and the soldier position where the sleeper lies on their back with both arms pinned to their sides were more likely to lead to snoring and a bad night's sleep.

"Both these postures may not necessarily awaken the sleeper but could cause a less refreshing night's sleep."

The research also found that most people are unlikely to change their sleeping position. Just 5% of the 1,000 people polled said they sleep in a different position every night.

Requirements for a Healthy Sleep

Medical science indicates there are three essential elements necessary for your body to enjoy a restful sleep:

Body Alignment

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Pressure & Circulation

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Support

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Your body is in alignment when your spine is lying in the correct position - straight when you’re lying on your side and in a natural “S” shape when you’re lying on your back. Proper body alignment while sleeping is essential to allow your body to recuperate from the stress it has been under during the day. As your spinal column recuperates, the muscles in your legs relax resulting in good blood circulation.

When you lie on a regular innerspring, air or conventional foam mattress, your own body weight pulls you down. The springs or compressed air react by pushing back against you. This causes pressure points resulting in discomfort and even pain over time.

For many of us, pressure points form at the shoulder blades, and hips causing numbness, stiffness or pain. Also, increased pressure on these body points impairs circulation. In fact, this is why we toss and turn at night. This movement is our body's attempt to get more comfortable.

The most comfortable sleep position is when your body is supported in the neutral or “natural shape” position. That is – no stress on your muscles and joints, lumbar curve intact, spine straight and correctly aligned. 

A mattress that is too firm will not support all the parts of your body evenly and may cause aches and pains on pressure points such as your shoulders and hips.

On the other hand, while softness and cushioning are necessary to relieve pressure points, a mattress that's too soft will not keep the spine in proper alignment leaving you feeling aching and tired.