Since I started floating regularly a few months ago, sleeping at home in my bed is different. I find myself adjusting into the same positions I float in, which don’t work for a bed. As any person trying to find better ways to live, eat, and sleep, I researched the good and the bad positions to sleep in. Eventually I stumbled upon what each sleeping position means about your personality, but that’s beside the point.
Different articles and research present a variety of reasons to sleep or not sleep on your side, your stomach, or your back. According to some sleep experts, your preferred sleep position could be giving you back and neck pain, stomach troubles, premature wrinkles, or affecting other organs and joints. But the truth is, each person is different, and so each position will affect them differently than the next person. Plus, you may be tossing and turning all night into different positions, so you gain all the benefits and detriments from all of them. I bet, however, that your mattress and pillow would make more of a difference in your sleep quality than which crazy shape you decide to make out of your body.
Let’s look at a few articles on the ‘best sleep positions’ for your health.
First off, the Freefall. This position involves lying on your stomach, with limbs sprawled out all over the bed. I often tucked my arms under my pillow, with my head turned to either side. Men’s Health states this position is good for digestion. Health, WebMD, The Better Sleep Council, and Purple, on the other hand, all state the stomach position is the worst to sleep in. It might be good to ease snoring, but the list of negatives includes an increased potential for neck and back pain and wrinkles. “It puts pressure on joints and muscles, which can irritate nerves and lead to pain, numbness, or tingling,” explains Ken Shannon, a physical therapist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
So, sleeping on your stomach may not be good for your health, but it is SO comfy! (come on, admit it, it IS comfy!) I admit that I often end up sleeping on my stomach for part of the night, until either my neck is tired of the strain or one of my arms fall asleep. Then I turn over, like a fried egg in the pan, and try another position.
Floating in the float pod on your stomach can be different as well. It’s a great relief for pregnant women to take the pressure off their stomach, lower back and hips, but it strained my back a little too much when I tried it. I tried putting my face in the water to relieve the tension in my lower back, but could only hold my breath for so long. Don’t take my testimony for granted, though. Floating is a completely individual experience, and what works for one person may or may not work not for another. Try out a variety of floating positions your next time in the tank, play around with it a little, stretch and bend and flex while you’re free from gravity’s pull.
Next up on our list is Side Sleeping. This may be one of the more common positions people sleep in. The Better Sleep Council, Health, Men’s Health, and WebMD all break side sleeping into even more categories, which include the Fetal Position, the Yearner Position, and the Log Position. Sleeping on your side is generally great for your overall health and one of the better positions, but also comes with drawbacks.
The Fetal Position, where you’re curled up on your side with legs and arms tucked into your body, is the most common sleeping position. For me, it’s comfy, doesn’t strain my body, and I feel safe all tucked under a pile of covers. It’s the preferred sleeping position for pregnant women (though I wonder if this would work in the float pod?), and is good to decrease snoring. But with this curved position, your diaphragm is compressed, restricting easy breathing. Your neck and back are curved all night, which may cause achiness the morning after. And for all you women out there, this isn’t the best position for maintaining perky breasts. We’re always working against gravity, especially as we age, so sleeping on your side – in any side position – just works against our features.
The Yearner Position is where you sleep on your side with your arms stuck out straight in front of you, like you’re reaching for something. Your body could be straight or slightly curved. Men’s Health says resting on your side like this may help alleviate problems associated with acid reflux and sleep apnea.
The last of the side positions, The Log, keeps the spine straight like, well…a log. Your arms stay down by your sides, like you’ve been petrified by Harry Potter. According to The Better Sleep Council, only a small percent of the population (6%) prefers this position. The bonus about this position is that your spine stays straight, thus reducing the achiness in the morning.
I wouldn’t suggest floating on your side in the pods unless you can balance well and don’t mind getting the Epsom salt solution in your mouth, nose, and eyes.
The preferred way to float, and my new favorite way to sleep, is on my back. This is how floating has ruined…or perhaps, enhanced…my sleep. Sleeping on my side or stomach is now uncomfortable, and I yearn for the freeing feeling I get in the float tank, which I don’t find in my bed anymore. The float pod supports every curve of my spine easily, while my bed points out every tight area and knot in my back. After a while sleeping in this position in bed, my low back starts to hurt (which follows what The Better Sleep Council says about sleeping on your back). But I always end up on my back, with my arms up near my head or out to the side.
When you sleep on your back, you’re either a Starfish or a Soldier. Soldiers lie on their backs with their arms down and close to the body. The Starfish lies on their backs with arms up near their heads or pillows. Back sleeping positions are bad for sleep apnea and snoring, says Dr. Eric Olson, a sleep medicine specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn (Health). Yet Purple says sleeping on your back provides the best shot at resting your spine in its most natural position- slightly curved – that is, if you place a small pillow or rolled up towel under your knees and you have a really good mattress to go along with it. Chiropractor Steve Diamant (Health) agrees with Purple by saying, “sleeping on your back makes it easy for your head, neck, and spine to maintain a neutral position. You’re not forcing any extra curves into your back.”
These positions may also be more prone to sleepwalking. While I don’t sleepwalk (yet), I’ve been told recently I talk in my sleep and my dreams are much more lucid and crazier than ever. Either that means I’m having a really good (or bad) dream or I’m just a little abnormal.😊
Beyond all that research and speculation, it seems my floating pattern has fallen into my sleep. I float like a starfish or soldier, and now I prefer to sleep the same way. Maybe it’s my subconscious yearning for the float pod. For that warm, comforting, safe, and gravity-free environment where my body and mind can completely relax. That space where the worries of the day disappear and I can traverse the universe unbridled.
Have you experienced a change in your sleep patterns or your dreams? Do you find you sleep better after a float or you toss and turn more? Let us know! Call the float shop at 531-365-2154, email us at email@example.com, or comment below. Share your stories and dreams, both in and out of the float pod.
In our next post, you'll learn more about HOW floating can improve your quality of sleep. Stay tuned floaters and live with Aloha!
"The Best Sleep Positions." Men's Health. Ed. Editors of Men’s Health. Men’s Health, 05 June 2017. Web.
Cralle, Terry. "Position Yourself for Great Sleep." The Better Sleep Council. Better Sleep Council, n.d. Web.
Pearce, Andi. "Sleeping Positions: 17 Tips For The Best Sleep [Backed by Science]." Purple. N.p., 01 Aug. 2017. Web.
Walker, Mindy Berry. "Which Sleep Style Is Healthiest?" Health.com. Which Sleep Style Is Healthiest?, 30 May 2012. Web.
"What's the Best Position to Sleep In?" WebMD. Ed. Melinda Ratini. WebMD, 7 Feb. 2017. Web.