How to Train Yourself to Sleep in a Different Position

Sleeping issues? It could be your position. Learn how to train yourself to change your sleep position

Use these tips to learn to sleep in a different position

Having a good night’s rest is essential for your vitality. Getting up energized and refreshed to take on a new day is possible, not only with coffee but with good sleep. According to the National Institute of Health, whether or not you function and feel well while you’re awake, depends on whether you’re getting good sleep. The lack of sleep or sleep of poor quality could cause you to feel tired and lack alertness during the day. Sleep deficiency can negatively interfere with our daily activities and routines while at work, school, social events, and also on the road; as we would find it challenging to focus on surrounding information to learn and react.

Sleep deficiency is a common public health issue across all age groups. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that about 7 to 19 percent of adults in the United States reported not getting enough sleep every day. As a result, almost 40 percent of adults claim they fall asleep during the day without apparent reasons, at least once a month.

Now that you know how important sleep is for your wellbeing, you might ask what you can do to improve your sleep.

The answer: changing your sleep position.

Most people sleep on their sides, some on their backs, and a few even sleep on their stomachs. Each person has a unique go-to sleep position that we tend to practice. However, you may want to consider changing it up every so often. Different health issues and body compositions such as pregnancy or sleep apnea suggest specific optimum sleep positions. In such situations, having the right sleeping posture makes a huge difference in our day.

Wrong sleep positions may lead to sleep apnea due to the obstructed airways to your lungs. Other symptoms may include stiff bones, and pain in the neck or back. Depending on your specific health situation, you should choose the best sleeping posture for yourself.

Did you know that different sleep positions have different effects on your glymphatic pathway? Controlled by the brain’s arousal level, the glymphatic pathway expedites clearance waste from the brain. While asleep, the brain’s interstitial space volume expands, resulting in faster waste removal of the central nervous system through the exchange efficiency. In 2015, the Journal of Neuroscience published an article regarding sleeping positions that optimizes our glymphatic pathway exchange efficiency. The study that was performed on mice concluded that side-sleeping clears brain waste more efficiently than back or stomach position. Yes, interestingly enough, humans and animals alike exhibit different body postures during sleep

Let’s dive into the different methods that you can use to train yourself to sleep in a different position. Of course, it might be tough to consciously view yourself sleeping (well, clearly because you would be unconscious while asleep), so the methods we have ensures that you can subconsciously train yourself to sleep in the perfect position for your body.

Changing up one’s sleep position might be a challenge, especially during your first few attempts. As much as it is a habitual routine, changing your sleep position can be done easily. The two methods below can be used to train yourself to sleep in a different position.

Use a Gravity-Activated Position Alarm

The first method is to use a gravity-activated position alarm while sleeping. You should place the alarm on your chest to ease into side-sleeping; and attach the alarm on the side of your arm to cultivate sleeping on your back or stomach. This device emits an auditory signal if an unintended position is held for more than 15 seconds. In a 1985 study on 10 male apnea patients, the gravity-activated position alarm has shown to significantly reduce apneic events by maintaining sleep positions.

Use Pillows for Support

The second method to change your sleeping position is to have two elongate pillows in parallel orientation on the bed. You can attach both pillows with a piece of fabric for a fixed distance —a cloth or a thick string would work well to prevent the two pillows from shifting around the bed. If you would like to sleep on your side, close the gap between the two pillows by using a shorter fabric and sleep in a sandwich-like position. To sleep on your back, use a longer connecting fabric, widening the distance between the pillows.

Both methods are just as effective in changing your sleep position. However, the second method would definitely be an easier, lower-cost DIY that can be made at home to help your sleeping posture. Finally, investing in a good mattress for side sleepers can certain help achieve a better night's sleep.

There’s a saying that goes: it takes seven days to build a new habit. In just a week, you’ll be able to improve your daily wellbeing with a new sleeping position!

Resources— Journal of Neuroscience, National Institute of Health, SLEEP Journal