Please help me find a proper sleep position.
January 16, 2009 8:02 AM   Subscribe

I need a proper sleep position! I don't know which one I sleep to, because I keep tossing and turning till sleep overtakes and I fall asleep.

It's really weird. I get to bed, my mattress is a good comfortable one. I think my pillows need changing, but other than that I'm a frequent tosser and turner. Right when I get in bed, I toss and turn to find a good position, and I don't.. I keep going at it till somehow I fall asleep.
Again, around 3am or so.. all the way upto 6am or so, the TnT begins.

This has been happening on and off for months. Somebody please help! Please don't say there is no proper way of sleeping.. but some suggestions wouldn't hurt.
posted by Vandal to Science & Nature (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Develop a good sleep routine.
posted by snowjoe at 8:24 AM on January 16, 2009

i tend to have this problem as well, though to a lesser extent. what works for me is to focus less on a good 'sleeping position', and to just get as comfortable as possible in a general sense. even if it's not all that cold, i'll wrap myself up in a really soft blanket (usually leaving my feet, and perhaps my shoulders and chest uncovered to mitigate any excessive heat). i also tend to sleep the best on my side, though i'm sure that varies greatly from person to person.

also, and i realize that this is perhaps a somewhat outlandish suggestion to some people, but smoking a bit of marijuana just before bed helps considerably for me.
posted by austere at 8:25 AM on January 16, 2009

Nobody is going to be able to tell you what will be comfortable for you. Every body is different and what works for one person will not work for you.

If you want to toss and turn less, do this: Put a tennis ball in a sock and sew the sock to the back of your pajama top. This will keep you from lying on your back. It's an old anti-snoring trick.

If you want to get really geeky, set up a video/web camera to tape yourself sleeping. Review the tape/file the next day. Whatever position you end up falling asleep in might be the position you start in the next night. You'll most likely still toss and turn though, since it's probably a matter of restlessness than discomfort.

A few months ago I started popping a melatonin pill 1/2 hour before bed. I've never slept better in my life. I'm a skeptic, so I'm still not convinced it's not a placebo effect, but even if it is it seems to relax me more.
posted by bondcliff at 8:30 AM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

I doubt this is position related. A tired person with good sleep hygiene can sleep anywhere. I would look into cutting caffeine after lunch, not eating late snacks (digestion interferes with good sleep), or even taking a little melatonin before bedtime.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:05 AM on January 16, 2009

I recommend a good memory foam pillow.
posted by caddis at 9:16 AM on January 16, 2009

The thing that solved that problem for me was buying one of those molded pillows. It forces you to sleep in a position where your head/neck/shoulders are properly aligned. It feels weird the first couple nights, since you're used to a fluffy formless thing. But give it a couple of nights and you'll be a convert!

(Fyi, i'm not advocating for the specific pillow i linked to, but to that kind of pillow in general.)
posted by Kololo at 9:27 AM on January 16, 2009

How old is your matress? I got a new mattress from sleepy's and i fal lasleep instantly. I let them use their sleep matress thing that shows your pressure points. They then tell you what the best type of matress would be and then show you the models and brands they have in that type.

They found mine to be a plush one (not to had and not to soft) . I got a queen size with box spring for $700 (huge sale at the time).
posted by majortom1981 at 9:37 AM on January 16, 2009

I'm a huge toss & turner. I videotaped myself falling asleep (just set the camera to record for 2 hours) for a few days. I always fell asleep eventually in the same position. Now that I know what it is, I give myself a few toss & turns and then settle into that position and hold it until I drift off. It works about 80% of the time.
posted by meerkatty at 9:43 AM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

meerkatty, that is an AMAZING idea! I think I'm going to do that.
caddis and Kololo, memory foam pillows are also something that I have been meaning to buy. Because I almost 98% of the time put my right hand on the end slow of my head turning into neck and then put the left hand on my forehead. I'm guessing the foam pillow will give me the same structure.

But please, keep 'em coming guys. I'm taking notes. Thanks for all the replies so far too!
posted by Vandal at 10:23 AM on January 16, 2009

Vandal, you say that this has been happening for months, so if it is a change in your normal, then I would suspect something other change in your life that is causing it. An elevation in stress? Change in daily routine/eating habits/schedule? Something must be different than months ago when I'm assuming you didn't have the problem.

This sounds more like the onset of insomnia than a comfort issue. I could sleep from hooks in the ceiling when I'm tired enough.

There are tons of easy and relaxing yoga poses that you can do prior to getting into bed that will relax you. Try hot showers/baths before bed. I sleep best on my side with a pillow between my knees, or something else (body pillow, and my dog even has worked on some nights!).

Do you notice what position you wake up in? Is it the same every morning? I find that the mornings I wake up and somehow managed to roll onto my stomach, the whole day is off because I clearly didn't sleep well, not to mention the back pain it causes me.

How old is your mattress? Mattresses and pillows really aren't supposed to be kept for generations.
posted by archimago at 10:56 AM on January 16, 2009

I found I toss and turn a lot less since I got myself a body pillow.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:02 AM on January 16, 2009

archimago, hot showers sounds like a good idea. I don't think I'm stressed at all.. infact I've been going to the gym regularly for the past couple months..

Regarding the mattress, it's brand new.. bought it Aug 08.
posted by Vandal at 11:37 AM on January 16, 2009

Get a crapload of good semi-firm pillows. I have to sleep with one between my knees if I'm on my side and sometimes I have to wrap my arms around one. If I'm on my back, it sometimes helps to throw some pillows underneath my knees. I used to wrap myself completely around a body pillow (covered arm thing and knee thing) and sleep really soundly.

My current mattress sucks, btw but with all mattresses (even memory foam), I've found this to be the only technique that works.

Keep trying stuff with the pillows until you find a comfortable position. You want your spine to be aligned and supported - hence less tossing and turning. Most mattresses don't offer enough support and they put pressure on for instance, shoulders, hips and knees if you are sleeping on your side.

Plus, buying four pillows is cheaper than buying a whole new bed.

I don't think it's an insomnia issue, esp. if your diet and exercise and stress levels have been consistent. Insomnia (at least for me) is being unable to fall asleep and waking up repeatedly through the night and being FULLY awake.

Tossing and turning is related to your body being unable to find a comfortable position to stay in.
posted by HolyWood at 12:47 PM on January 16, 2009

Hope I can find a good place in Toronto to buy these memfoam pillows!
Thanks a lot for your comments and help guys, really appreciate it.
posted by Vandal at 1:40 PM on January 16, 2009

Vandal - i'm in toronto. My pillow is actually a President's Choice pillow (any loblaws Superstore), but also any store that sells bedding sells those pillows. (Department stores etc.) They have become pretty commonplace, so you don't really need to seek out a specialty store.
posted by Kololo at 2:56 PM on January 16, 2009

If I could train myself to sleep on my back I would because deep wrinkles are really setting in on my face from sleeping on my stomach with my face nestled on my arms and pillow all night.
posted by maloon at 8:43 PM on January 16, 2009

PC Pillows eh! I had no idea, I'm going to look around today surely. Thanks a lot for all the help guys, very appreciative.
posted by Vandal at 12:44 PM on January 17, 2009

I have found that the act of tossing and turning keeps me awake a lot longer - making an effort not move around too much really helps. Mental relaxation exercises, meditation, trying not to wake the person next to me in bed all work toward that end. Also a pillow between the knees.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:34 PM on January 17, 2009

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