Most women have trouble scoring between the sheets—scoring ample shut-eye, that is. Nearly 80 percent have problems sleeping at least a few times a month, and 23 percent have issues almost every night, according to an exclusive Women’s Health survey. What’s worse, per the National Sleep Foundation, half of all women regularly wake up feeling unrefreshed, which can strain the body, muddle the mind, and increase risks for ailments such as diabetes and depression.
Women’s health summed up the best positions:
If You Have. . .Back Pain
Lie on your side, with your legs supported
Some 40 percent of women suffer spinal issues, according to The Clinical Journal of Pain, and many of those originate—or get worse—between the sheets, because a wonky sleep pose can throw off spinal alignment for hours, says Robert S. Rosenberg, D.O., medical director of the Sleep Disorders Centers of Prescott Valley and Flagstaff, Arizona.
The key is to keep your spine in a neutral, naturally curved position. Lie on your side and put a slight bend in your knees, stacking your hips in a straight line (letting your top hip flop forward will rotate your lumbar spine, fueling more pain). Place a firm pillow or two in between your knees so that your legs are propped about hip-width apart. Your arms can relax out in front of you. If this feels funny at first, don’t give up. Sleeping with extra padding takes practice.
If You Have. . .Sinus Pain
Lie on your side, propped up
Anytime you’re congested—be it from allergies, a sinus infection, or a plain old cold—avoid snoozing on your back. Doing so means your mouth can fall open during the night, drying out what’s stuffed you up (hardened mucus can keep you congested, says Rosenberg). Instead, lie on your side with an extra pillow under your head and let gravity help with drainage. Don’t forget that when your head is up high, your arms will need extra support, so hug a pillow. Arrange your legs in a comfy, slightly bent pose.
If You Have. . .Shoulder Pain
Lie on your side, in a “hug” pose
Shoulder pain has many culprits (a heavy handbag, slouching), but chief among them is a thorny side-sleeping position. Yep, sleeping on your side can both cause and alleviate shoulder pain. It’s all in the particulars, says Rosenberg.
Many women make the mistake of tucking their bottom arm under their head, which strains the brachial plexus, a network of nerves that controls the shoulder, arm, and hand. “It’s like sleeping with a 10-pound weight on your arm, and it pinches the nerves,” he says.
First, keep off your sore side. Lie on your pain-free side with your legs slightly bent. Extend your bottom arm straight out in front of you, then bring it in, using both arms to hug a pillow to your chest. As with back pain, avoid flopping your top leg forward (to help alignment, place a pillow between your thighs). If both shoulders are aching, switch to a back pose and keep your arms relaxed at your sides.
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