Can how you lie when you sleep really effect your life expectancy? Its well recognised that how you lie impacts how and where you sag and crease, but can how you lie save your life or help you live longer? Indeed, there are various sleep positions that promote spine, respiratory and digestive health. Sleeping is supposed to leave you feeling refreshed and relaxed. The 7.5 - 9 hours you spend asleep are the time when your body is hard at work restoring and repairing the day's damage. This restoration is the key to a long, healthy life.
The safest sleep position for all ages is lying on your right side at a 30 degree angle of elevation.
In 2010, the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons recommended that those who snore sleep on their side whilst those with Obstructive Sleep Apnea require 30 degrees of elevation.
Lying on your right side causes the heart muscle to hang into the right lung. The right lung has three lobes whilst the left lung has only two lobes. This allows the lungs more space to expand in the chest cavity improving oxygenation of the blood and vital organs. Lying in an elevated position prevents any body fluids from flowing into the trachea and down into the lungs. Instead, due to gravity, these secretions either flow out the mouth as drool or down into the stomach via the oesophegus where they pose no threat. This protects the airways from unhelpful substances such as mucus, saliva and vomit.
The only health disadvantage to this position is that it may lead to chronic neck pain due to the angle of elevation. Another deterrent may be the concern that the right side of the face is in contact with the pillow and will be prone to developing acne and wrinkles whilst the left breast may droop more than the right as it is not supported by the bed or chest wall.
To make lying on your side an even more potent position add a cushion between your knees so that your lower spine is not under strain from the weight of your top leg. Additionally, decrease the curve of your spine (more side lying and less fetal position) and relax your arms by your sides. Grab a bra and throw on a satin pillow case, make sure it is washed regularly, and what do you know? You may have found a position that ticks all the boxes - spine health; good respiration, protected internal organs and anti-aging benefits.