People change sleeping positions anywhere between about three and 36 times a night. Do you know where you fall in there? There are nights I wake up in the exact position in which I fell asleep--but if the state of my messy hair is anything to go by, there was plenty of tossing and turning in the middle there.
But according to experts, sleeping in one position can be a problem. Occasionally, sleeping in the same position every single night can cause pain, like neck or shoulder pain. And keeping your body in the same position for hours on end can squish the body on one side and stretch out the other, which can end up causing an imbalance, which can come with pain.
So put finding the right position on your to-do doze list. Says Peggy Brill, a Manhattan orthopedic physical therapist: "It's important that people take time to think about how they position themselves when they sleep. Rest is important for the muscular skeletal system to recover. ... The proteins get back into the muscles, there's rejuvenation of the body, so you want to be in a healthy anatomical position when you sleep."
Of course, there isn't just one position that's ideal for everyone. But if you have any of these conditions, here are some positions to adopt (and avoid!):
If you snore or have sleep apnea... don't sleep on your back. It exacerbates the narrowing of the throat passage, making it even harder to breathe. Doctors recommend sewing a tennis ball in the back of your PJs to keep you from ending up on your back, or at least get a wedge pillow with a 30 percent incline to keep you from lying flat.
If you have acid reflux... sleeping on your side (which is the position that 57 percent of us at least start snoozing in, according to Tempur-Pedic) can help heartburn, keeping the gastric juices from bubbling up your esophagus. And some studies even say that sleeping on your left side is better than the right for reflux, but experts are still debating that.
If you have back pain... sleep on your back, preferably on a firm mattress. Bending your knees can help, too, helping to stretch and open up the part of your back that's sore.
If you're pregnant... docs say to sleep on your side--specifically the left side--to increase the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the baby and its placenta. Putting a pillow underneath your belly can help with back pain, too.
Oh, and sleeping on your stomach? Experts generally don't recommend it, since the chances of constraining your neck are pretty high. (Sometimes it just feels so good to sleep that way, though!)