As a very pregnant human, I think a lot about sleep and sleep posture... but this is a topic y'all should be considering!
You will hear us say posture is an important skill - you have to actively work to improve it. Posture influences how you move, think, and recover. But did you know it's a skill you can work on while you sleep? Sleep posture plays a big role in your overall posture and physical well being. Think about it. You spend a lot of hours on that mattress. That position you habitually sleep is a big contributor to your mobility issues you have to deal with during your waking hours. Do you sleep on your stomach? This often creates a very asymmetrical cervical spine range of motion that influences the rest of the spine all the way down to the lumbar spine and the sacrum (low back pain anyone?). Pile those pillows high? Look for a forward head posture issues. Do you curl your wrists in and hug an imaginary teddy bear while on your side? Watch for neck pain, diminished bad wrist mobility, and a whole lot of shoulder of issues. Tuck your feet tight into your sheets so they point down like a ballerina? Check your ankle mobility... you see where I am going here. Don't take your sleep posture for granted.
How should you sleep then? The answers vary. The two most ideal positions are either on your back or on your side.
If you choose to sleep on your side, you’ll need enough support under your neck to keep your spine neutral and be able to maintain stacked hips. Some find using a body pillow is great support. If a big body pillow doesn't suit you, you can get away with a regular pillow or a bolster pillow for the knees, and a pillow under the neck. When you are in a neutral position, you should not feel the need or desire to curl your wrists to tuck under your head or neck, bring one leg down in front of the other, or sleep with your head on top of your arm or shoulder.
If you prefer to sleep on your back, make sure your neck is properly supported (too high can be just as bad as too low). Make sure your neck is not pushed too far forward by too many pillows. If someone were to look at you from the side, your neck should be in line with your body and not in front of it. You can lie with your head flat on the mattress if you’d like. A pillow under your knees can provide extra comfort (some people even prefer two pillows or a bolster to elevate their legs a bit more). Make sure the sheets aren't pulling your feet down, untuck them if you need to necessary. This position will maintain a neutral, supported spine while promoting optimal blood flow.
Do these positions sound crazy? Are you willing to give them a try? Changing your sleep habits takes time, but happy, healthy slumbers are well worth the effort and the postural benefits will pay you back in dividends!