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Sleeping Postures to be adopted in Winters

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    Choose firm mattress support. Mattresses generally lose their support after approximately 8 years. If your mattress feels lumpy or soft, it may be time to upgrade to a firmer model.

    • In the meantime, support an old mattress by sticking a large piece of plywood underneath it, above the box spring or supports.
    • Turn your mattress regularly to keep the springs fresh. Some sources suggest turning the mattress so the bottom is near the top and vice versa every 6 weeks.
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    Begin improving your posture during the day. You may not immediately know what proper posture should feel like, so you should check your posture against a wall several times a day as you begin a back and shoulder strengthening routine.

    • Stand against the wall. For most people with poor posture, their shoulder blades do not touch the wall. Pull your shoulder blades down and in so that they connect with the wall. Next, lengthen your neck as if someone is pulling the back of your head up. Move it back until your head touches the wall. Move your chin until it is parallel to the ground.
    • Make sure you stand with equal weight in both legs. Move to a mirror and mimic the pose to ensure your neck and shoulders are straight. Pull your shoulders down as far as possible. Tighten your abdominal muscles.
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    Consider seeking the help of a physical therapist if this position is difficult to keep for very long. It is normal to go back into old postures; however, the use of the wall test and core exercises should make the posture easy to maintain over time.

    • A physical therapist can assign you a specific regimen for your body’s weaknesses. For example, people who have worked at a computer for years may have shoulders and a forward neck position that require a progression of exercises to strengthen.
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    Walk around for a few minutes before going to bed. If you have just risen from a seated position, then it is likely your pelvis is tucked forward and you have poor posture. Do the wall test and walk around your house to loosen your muscles.

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    Never sleep on your stomach. Unless you have a massage table that allows you to stick your head through a hole to align your spine, you will experience increased stress on the back and neck. People who have slept on their stomach for years may find it difficult to change positions; however, it is necessary for improving posture and decreasing stress on the spine.

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    Choose a side sleeping posture. This is recommended as the best posture, followed by sleeping on your back with your knees raised by a pillow. Try to adjust your body as if you were doing the wall test, while laying on your side before you get into position.

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    Use sleep supports to align yourself into a side sleeping posture. You can choose either side to sleep on, according to comfort. Bend your knees until your back is almost flat, keeping a slight natural curve of the spine.

    • Add a pillow between your knees. This will support the top hip, keeping it aligned with the bottom hip. Consider placing a body pillow in the space between your ankles, between your knees and in front of your chest. Allow your upper arm to rest on the body pillow so that it can relax completely as you sleep.
    • Place your head on the pillow. Choose a pillow that supports a straight spine. If the pillow is too thick, it will cause your neck to bend incorrectly toward the ceiling. If it is too thin, it will bend the other way. Experiment with your pillows, and seek a pillow of the correct height if you cannot find a good model in your home. Make sure your chin is parallel to the bottom of the bed, rather than resting near your chest.
    • Place a body pillow behind you to discourage rolling in the middle of the night. If you are changing from a stomach sleeping posture, this will help you to stay in a correct position. You can remove the body pillow as soon as you are sleeping through the night on your side.
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    Choose a back sleeping posture, if you cannot find comfort on your side. Place a pillow or 2 beneath your knees, so that your back flattens slightly into the mattress. Roll up a washcloth and place it in the curvature of your neck to support the curve.

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    Move around when you wake up. Walk around, swing your shoulders in their sockets and do very light stretches. This can ease pain and stiffness, improving posture during the day.

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Stacey Sanner, 51, a PR consultant in Seattle and avid runner, is partial to sleeping on her right side. In her 20s, following a knee injury, she switched her primary sleep position from her stomach to her side and added a pillow between her legs.

“I have never been able to sleep on my back,” she says. “When I started having lower back trouble, my doctor told me, ”One of the best things to do is sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees.’”

Can sleep posture affect the quality of your sleep and health? Absolutely, says Steven Park, MD, author of Sleep, Interrupted and clinical assistant professor of otolaryngology at New York Medical College in Valhalla, N.Y. Fatigue, sleep apnea, headaches, heartburn, and back pain are some of the complaints that can be aggravated by improper sleep posture and a bad night’s sleep, Park says.

The Best Sleep Position

Sixty-three percent of Americans sleep on their side. Only 14% sleep on their back and 16% on their stomach. Which way is best? Shut-eye expert Park offers these tips.

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Go with the flow. You may have heard that sleeping on your back prevents facial wrinkles because nothing is pushing against your face, but that doesn’t mean you should change your snooze. Trying to change your natural sleep position can harm the quality of your sleep, says Park.

Mattress matters. The condition of your mattress will often dictate your sleep position. If you have an old, worn-out mattress that sags in the middle, sleeping on your side or stomach is more difficult.

Taking sides. The majority of Americans are side sleepers, but the jury is still out on which side — left or right — is more popular. Most people stick with one position, but that can shift as you age, usually due to health issues, says Park. Also, no one stays in one position all night, and doing so is not good for circulation.

Finding the Right Sleep Position

Is side, stomach, or back best? And can you switch to another position if the one you favor may not be best for your health? “You’re naturally going to gravitate toward a position that you feel best sleeping in,” Park says. You’ll also tend to choose one based on how well you’re able to breathe. “The smaller the airway in your throat becomes at night, the more likely it is you’re going to sleep on your stomach,” he says.

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Back sleeping is a no-no for snorers and those with sleep apnea; side sleeping is best because it helps keep your airways open. Research suggests sleeping on the left side can relieve heartburn symptoms, while right-side sleeping makes them worse. Sleeping on the left side is also recommended during pregnancy to improve circulation to the heart — good for mom and baby.

You may want to experiment with different positions, but Park advises against switching from your natural inclination unless there’s a health condition that calls for it.

Sanner knows something’s off if she’s shifted out of her favored position during the night. “I can tell as soon as I wake up if I’ve had a good night’s sleep,” she says. “I feel rested, full of energy, and happy.”