Sleeping Positions

sleeping positions

The sleeping position is the body configuration assumed by a person during or prior to sleeping. It has been shown to have health implications, particularly for babies. In the 1958 edition of his best-selling book ‘The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care,’ pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock warned against placing a baby on its back, writing, ‘if [an infant] vomits, he’s more likely to choke on the vomitus.’ However, later studies have shown that placing a young baby in a prone position increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Pregnancy.org champions ‘SOS’ (sleep on side), particularly the left side, for pregnant women, claiming this ‘will increase the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the placenta and your baby.’ It is recommended that people at risk of obstructive sleep apnea sleep on their side and with a 30° or higher elevation of the upper body. Snoring, which may be (but is not necessarily) an indicator of obstructive sleep apnea, may also be alleviated by sleeping on one’s side.

Research by Chris Idzikowski, a self-proclaimed sleep expert, has suggested that the choice of position may indicate the type of person the sleeper is. From his survey of 1000 people he identified six positions and claimed to detect personality traits based on them: Fetus (41%) – curling up in a fetal position; Log (15%) – lying on one’s side with the arms down the side; Yearner (13%) – sleeping on one’s side with the arms in front; Soldier (8%) – on one’s back with the arms pinned to the sides; Freefall (7%) – on one’s front with the arms around the pillow and the head tilted to one side; and Starfish (5%) – on one’s back with the arms around the pillow.

The remaining 11% stated their position varied or did not know. A Canadian survey found very different preferences, with 39% of respondents preferring the ‘log’ position and 28% preferring to sleep on their side with their legs bent. A Travelodge survey found that 50% of British couples prefer sleeping back-to-back, either not touching (27%) or touching (23%). Spooning was next, with the man on the outside 20% of the time vs. 8% with the woman on the outside. 10% favored the “lovers’ knot” (facing each other with legs intertwined), though all but 2% separated before going to sleep. The ‘Hollywood pose’ of the woman with her head and arm on the man’s chest was chosen by 4%.

The Chinese feng shui and Indian Vastu Shastra systems describe favorable and unfavorable geographical directions (north, south, east, west) for sleeping. Feng shui also factors the configuration of the bedroom in the positioning of the bed.

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