The right sleeping positions can alleviate symptoms of sleep apnea, give you sex dreams, and more

By Mirel Ketchiff
Corbis Images

Whether you snooze on your back, side, or stomach, you probably don't give your sleeping position much thought. But how you curl up each night can impact your health in some surprising ways. This goes beyond waking up with a sore neck or back: People with epilepsy, for example, are more likely to die unexpectedly while sleeping on their stomachs than in other positions, according to a new study in Neurology. Find your sleeping stance below to learn how it might be affecting you in and out of the sack.

If You Sleep on Your Back…

You might have a higher risk of obstructive sleep apnea, studies show. (Always Tired? Sleep Apnea Could Be to Blame.) But if you wake up feeling refreshed and symptom-free, there's nothing wrong with snoozing belly-up. (Just don't forget to wash your pillow.)

If You Sleep on Your Side…

You're probably in pretty good shape: Side sleeping doesn't usually cause neck or shoulder pain, report Australian researchers, and, in some cases, actually improves symptoms of sleep apnea. If you have heartburn, rolling to your left side instead of your right can help, a Stanford University School of Medicine study found. But fair warning: Other research shows that sleeping on your left may give you nightmares.

If You Sleep on Your Stomach…

You've probably heard it before: this isn't the best. While some research indicates sleeping on your stomach can ease sleep apnea symptoms, participants in this study slept on beds with cutouts for their face. The twisting you have to do to breath on a normal bed can strain your back and neck. There is, however, one surprising upside to dozing belly-down. People who sleep in this position tend to have more erotic dreams-specifically dreams about having sex with a celeb or other bigwig. (Sleeping Too Much can influence dreams too.)

If You Sleep with a Bedmate…

How much you cuddle with your partner-and whether you hit the hay at the same time each night-can have a big impact on your overall happiness. Check out How Your Sleep Style Affects Your Relationship.


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