One of the things I always emphasize with my patients is the importance of sleeping on your back. And, for some reason, I always get massive resistance to it:
"But Dr. Stephanie...sleeping on my side is so comfortable!"
"Well, I usually start off on my back, but wake up on my front"
or my all-time favorite:
"Look here Dr. Stephanie, I'm Italian. I will never stop drinking espresso, and you can't make me sleep on my back. It's in my blood!"
Italian or not, sleeping on your back has many health and beauty benefits. Sleeping on your stomach is quite possibly the worst thing you can do for your spine, and pretty much guarantees a visit to my office - for pain [not for a wellness tune-up which is how I would prefer to see you. But I digress]. It will also dull the gorgeous glow on your face and give you wrinkles. There, I said it. Stomach sleeping give you wrinkles, jowels and basically makes you ugly.
Heath Benefits of Back Sleeping
1. Gorgeous Curves Maintained
Everyone loves curves. Even your spinal ones. Back sleeping is the most natural, and most supportive way to sleep. Period.
The 3 curves (yes all 3!) in in your spine will naturally gravitate towards their happy place where the beautiful curves are accentuated and supported. They are not flattened or, worse, inverted in any way.
2. Wake-Up Refreshed
When your spine is twisted and inverted like a pretzel all night, guess what happens. Your spinal cord (the nerves for your entire body that the spine protects) get irritated and annoyed with you. We are talking intoxicated-ex-girlfriend-that-just-saw-you-with-your-new-gf kind of irritated.
Waking up with achy joints, kinks, and muscle spasms are all not-so-fun things that can happen when your nervous system is irked at you.
3. Healthy Discs
Sleeping on your back, allows your discs to swell up with water (super important for their nutrition, and health), and lets them get their beauty rest in a low pressure environment. Discs don't deal well with high pressure situations and they can wreck havoc on your body when they do.
Your discs are kind of like that slippery, flaky friend who always seems to get out of an event she doesnt feel like going to. You know the one I am talking about. She wiggles, squirms, avoids, and somehow always manages to avoid high pressure situations. While you end up going to your twice removed cousin's baby shower for an entire Sunday afternoon and she gets to sleep in and watch 30 rock re-runs in her PJ's.
Your discs do just that...they avoid high pressure situations. The only difference between them and your friend is they help absorb shock in the spine in addition to the squirming about.
Every once in a while, your squirmy discs do get caught in high pressure situtations and are forced to deal with it. They usually react by freaking on your nerves, joints, and muscles, and causes everything to seize up. Anyone who has ever had a "pinched nerve" or a disc herniation knows how pleasant this can be.
So, now you know why sleeping on your back is so important for your overall health. In fact, besides seeing a good chiropractor [that would be me] regularly, it is the best thing you can do to prevent back issues.
However, you must know there are serious drawbacks to stomach sleeping. Let's chat us up some skin care.
Why Stomach-Sleeping Will Make You Ugly:
It may sound crude, but you (and your wrinkle-less face and healthy neck) will thank me later :
1. Unnecessary Wrinkles!
Notice when you wake up from your stomach you have those lines on your cheeks and face? Maybe when you were 18 they disappeared instantly. Now? Not so much. They take a bit longer to disappear these days, don't they? This is because you are single-handedly destroying the collagen and elastin fibres in your face.
Over time, the pressure on your cheek (from the weight of your noggin) will cause disruption in the collagen and elastin fibres in your face. Think about it. 8 hours of applied pressure to delicate face tissue. And when they break down, wrinkles are imminent. Trust.
I mean, obviously, you can come in for a cosmetic acupuncture treatment, as this treatment certainly helps. But why not help yourself and prevent it from happening in the first place?
So, while you are sleeping on your stomach, your cheek is all bunched up on the bed, and you are likely drooling. You are also simultaneously stretching out your skin. The skin in your neck and lower jaw (jowel) area is being pulled, and you will, over time, pull the skin on one side of your face more than the other...resulting in a lopsided stretchng of the skin.
Totally and completely avoidable, by sleeping on your back!
3. Head & Neck Crank
This one is also completely [completely] avoidable.
In order for you to sleep on your stomach, you need to crank your head to one side so you can breathe. So, if you can imagine your delicate neck for one moment:
The joints and muscles on one side are going to be crushed, cramped, and compressed..for what 7 hours? You are smartiepants enough to know this is going to cause massive compression on one side of the neck (all all its joints, and muscles) and unnecessarily stretch out the opposite side.
Think about what happens after days, weeks or months of doing this. You will cause a yuge imbalance in symmetry in your neck: one side with be crushed and compressed, the other will be over-stretched.
Not to mention the pressure it places on your ribs, jaw, low back, and organs!!
So...enough with your stomach sleeping habit already!!!