Different positions sleepingYou know that getting between seven and eight hours of sleep a night is good for your physical and mental health, but the story doesn’t stop there.

What most people don’t realize is that the different sleeping positions we choose can actually affect our health.

The Six Different Sleeping Positions

There are six standard, accepted sleeping positions. Each of them have their pros – and their cons.

The Back Positions

The Soldier – On Your Back, Arms to Your Sides: In terms of physical alignment, this is considered the best sleeping position for your health. This sleeping position keeps your head, neck, and spine in place all night long. Your body doesn’t twist or curve in ways it shouldn’t or that might be painful. The only drawback is if you are prone to snoring. The Soldier can exacerbate snoring, which can lead to sleep apnea. If you place a pillow under your knees or under your lower back, it can be an effective position for easing back pain, too.

The Starfish – On Your Back, Arms Over Your Head: Another sleeping position that’s good for alignment, the Starfish is good for preventing wrinkles and acne. Both the back sleeping positions can also help with acid reflux. But know that the Starfish can put strain on the nerves in your arms and shoulders, causing pain.

The Side Positions

The Fetal Position – On Your Side, Knees Pulled Up, Chin Tucked Under: As comfortable as many people find this position, it’s considered one of the worst sleeping positions for your health. It puts a strain on your back, your joints, and your neck. It can restrict the deep breathing of the deepest levels of sleep, as well. The good thing about the Fetal Position is that it can ease snoring and many pregnant women find it comfortable.

The Log – On Your Side, Legs Straight, Arms Down at Your Side: This is another position that’s good for alignment. Plus, unlike the back positions, it can help reduce snoring. The downside? Gravity. The Log contributes to wrinkled skin and sagging breasts.

The Yearner – On Your Side, Legs Straight, Arms Out in Front of You: Very similar to the Log, the one health difference to this sleeping position is that having your arms in front of you could cause nerve or muscle pain. But it’s still good for alignment and easing snoring.

*Note – Whichever of the different sleeping positions you choose, which side you’re on matters, too. Sleeping on the right side might make your heartburn worse. But sleeping on the left side can stress some of your organs. Make your choice depending on your overall health goals.

On Your Tummy

The Freefaller – On Your Stomach, Arms Up: This is the worst of the 6 different sleeping positions in terms of your health, no matter how comfortable you may find it. It puts everything at an unnatural angle: your neck, your spine, your hips - your whole body. It can cause pressure on your joints and nerves, which may create numbness. Still, it’s not all bad. The Freefaller may help with digestion and snoring. If you have to sleep on your stomach, try it with a pillow under your hips and without one under your head to reduce strain.

When it comes to your health, there’s no right or wrong sleeping position – but each one will affect your health differently.

So pay attention to how well you sleep at night, and how you feel in the mornings, and choose the sleeping position that’s best for you, and your health.