Sleep Position
November 23, 2006 2:19 PM   Subscribe

I ALWAYS sleep on my right side. I can't fall asleep in any other position. Anybody else have this problem? Anyone know what to do to change sleeping position?
posted by EasyLover to Health & Fitness (25 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I always fall asleep on one side or the other. Why is there any reason to change it? What difference does it make?
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 2:40 PM on November 23, 2006

I am exactly the same way -- I have to be on my right side, and I have to have ample open space between me and any object in the direction I'm facing. So if I'm in the same bed as someone else, I have to be facing away from her as well as being on my right side.
posted by solid-one-love at 2:42 PM on November 23, 2006

I used to have the same problem too. A girlfriend who used to move in her sleep to the right-hand side of the bed forced me to learn to cope with the left.

Unfortunately the way I managed was to get three bad nights sleep and, on the fourth, I was so tired I simply passed out. From that point onwards I was fine.

It wasn't the nicest way of training it has to be said.
posted by mr_silver at 2:49 PM on November 23, 2006

Hmm....sleeping only on your right side may have something to do with your spine and carrying a thick wallet in the back right pocket. I used to be right-side sleeper also.

Last Xmas , I went to my parents' massage therapist who was a 5ft Chinese woman who could basically fold your spine in half. I had gone to her since I was having neck and lower back pains.

She mentioned that my spine wasn't straight. She then asked if mainly slept on my right side and if I was carrying around thick wallet. And sure enough, I had a tri-fold that was over 1 inch thick. She said it was basically the wallet that's causing all the problems. So as test, I bought a new thinner wallet and stopped carrying cash in it. I continued to have minor back pains for about a month, but then they went away.

Since then I can pretty much sleep in any position.

I wonder how many right-siders have thick wallets like I used to?
posted by Cog at 3:18 PM on November 23, 2006

I often get mild heartburn if I sleep on my left side. The side I sleep on can also cause sinusy effects that are mild enough that I might not consciously register it, but annoying enough to affect sleep. So, you might just have a habit or you might have something physical going on or some combo of the both. Adapting to a new sleeping situation (New SO, new bed, new bedroom) usually takes some time. Is there a pressing reason? Otherwise, might be a case of, "Doc, it hurts when I do this/Don't do that."
posted by Skwirl at 3:19 PM on November 23, 2006

I always fall asleep either on my left side, or face down. I noticed this especially recently, because I have bruised my left shoulder so that it's mildly painful to lie on - and I still prefer to go to sleep on it.

Clearly, I have no solutions for you, so this is just a 'me too! You are not alone.'
posted by jacalata at 3:28 PM on November 23, 2006

I was a side sleeper until I got a super-firm mattress. Now I sleep on my back. And snore. Am buying a nice soft mattress in the new year. I also find I can't sleep on my side if I have flat or few pillows as it hurts my neck. So there you go...
posted by brautigan at 3:44 PM on November 23, 2006

The average person spends a third of their time on this planet asleep, naturally the position in which you sleep can have profound effects on your well-being and directly affects the spine. The general consensus seems to be:

• Avoid overstuffed pillows - they do not allow you to rest with your head in a neutral position.

• Sleep on your side, with your knees slightly bent and with a pillow between your knees. This is the best way to maintain proper body posture when lying down. Avoid curling up with your knees to your chest. " If you must sleep on your back, place a pillow under your knees to support the normal curve of the lower back.

• Avoid sleeping on your stomach, as this may aggravate back and neck pain.

• Many mattress manufacturers promote extra firm surfaces, but it is possible for a mattress to be too firm. Similarly, some mattresses may be too soft, especially ones that come with extra soft feather tops. Neither situation allows your muscles to rest, as they must work through the night to find a comfortable position and maintain correct posture.

I would consult a trusted osteopath for individual advice on this if necessary.

Personally, I fall asleep on whichever side my eyes have the least light impinging on them.
posted by asok at 3:44 PM on November 23, 2006 [1 favorite]

This one evaded the cursor previously somehow:

• Place your pillow under your head, not under your shoulders.
posted by asok at 3:47 PM on November 23, 2006

So, I would say, why not try popping another pillow or two down the bed and see what happens. If you sleep soundly then somethings probably going right. In general it is a good idea to do everything 'on both sides of the body'. If you bend over forwards alot, bend over backwards. Carry your bag on both sides of your body. If you sleep on your right one night, sleep on the left side another night etc.
posted by asok at 3:55 PM on November 23, 2006

This reminds me of the only time I laughed out loud at an episode of "Roseanne". John Goodman is sleeping on the couch, on his left side, and Roseanne's mother walks in the room, waking him up saying,

"Dan, you shouldn't sleep on your left side. It's bad for the heart."
Dan, not of fan of his mother-in-law, mumbles, "Yeah, so's a rusty spike..."
posted by zardoz at 4:34 PM on November 23, 2006

Heh, I've been meaning to ask for a while - IS sleeping on your left side truly bad for your heart?
posted by IndigoRain at 5:25 PM on November 23, 2006

Previous sleeping position threads might be useful.

Why is there any reason to change it? What difference does it make?

If you don't know anything at all about the pros and cons of various sleeping positions, Steven, why on earth are you the first person to chime in on this question?
posted by mediareport at 6:24 PM on November 23, 2006

Sleeping on the left side is actually better for heartburn: "Studies have shown that this position aids digestion and helps with the removal of stomach acid. Sleeping on the right side has been shown to worsen heartburn."

Personally, I'm able to sleep on either side or on my back, but sleeping on my right sometimes causes stomach pain, while switching to the left relieves it.
posted by mbrubeck at 6:31 PM on November 23, 2006

Why is there any reason to change it? What difference does it make?

I always fall asleep facing down, with my arms folded underneath the pillow, supporting my head. Unfortunately after a lifetime of this my shoulder joints are weaker than they should be, and hence are easily dislocated. I've crushed nerves (circumflex FWIW) in both shoulders because of this. I also get pain in my neck muscles, and headaches when I wake up.

That seems like a good enough reason to change. It's a pity I can't manage to actually do it.
posted by claudius at 7:27 PM on November 23, 2006

Break your right shoulder and you'll learn to sleep on your left side! I'm still more comfortable on the right but at least I know it's physically possible for me to sleep in some other position.
posted by fshgrl at 8:31 PM on November 23, 2006

I sleep on my right side or back, but I rarely fall asleep in any position other than my right side. If I need to stay awake and think for a few minutes after going to bed, I lay on my back. When it's time to go to sleep, I roll over onto my right side. My wife says I often sleep on my back and snore.
posted by lhauser at 9:58 PM on November 23, 2006

I used to sleep on my side all the time. Then I lost 50 lbs of gut. From 200 to 150. Now I sleep on my back all the time. Must be some connection. Maybe the weight of that fat was pressing down on the abdomen making it uncomfortable.

Today is Thanksgiving. Gonna sleep on my side tonite,

posted by jorlando at 10:05 PM on November 23, 2006

When I was young my brother and I would share a room, and periodically hurl things at each other, usually aimed for the vital areas. Now I can't sleep on my back for fear of a book flying across the room and smacking me in the groin. Good times.
posted by mecran01 at 10:09 PM on November 23, 2006

I am a reformed stomach sleeper. I find it most comfy but since I hurt my shoulder (sleeping with your arms above your head is *not* good for you), I've been working on not doing it. Surrounding myself with pillows is the only thing that has worked for me, and sometimes I still turn over on my stomach in my sleep. Pillows and a tolerance for some lost sleep.
posted by dame at 10:24 PM on November 23, 2006

Yes, I am exclusively a side-sleeper (both sides tho'), and no, I never figured out how to change it. Even with one arm in a cast, such that I was only 'supposed' to be comfortable on my back with my arm on a pillow, I slept just terribly until I worked out how to side-sleep with it.

I can only back-sleep under a combination of sheer exhaustion, really good mood, and no intent to sleep until the couch sucks me under. And if that lasts more than 20 minutes, I'll switch to my side.

But yes, the knee pillow is a great invention for us side-sleepers.
posted by eritain at 2:38 AM on November 24, 2006

Co-sleep with a baby.
posted by DenOfSizer at 7:43 AM on November 24, 2006

I have severe scoliosis and (because of this) I sleep on my left side. If you have any back issues similar to that, it might be the problem.
posted by itchie at 7:02 PM on November 24, 2006

Dedicated side-sleeper here as well - currently left-side, though it's changed on occasion.

See, not only do I have to sleep on my side, I have to be facing out towards the edge, and I must be sleeping on the side of the bed that allows me to face the door of the room. Don't ask me why, but I've been that way for years and years. Different rooms in my house where I've slept, or even different boyfriends' houses - different room arrangements, bed and door placements, thus I switch as necessary.

Strange, I know.

Left-side sleeping hasn't done a darn thing to help my stomach problems, but it does help alleviate gas cramps.
posted by Adelwolf at 8:50 PM on November 24, 2006

You think you have it rough. *I* can't sleep unless YOU are sleeping on YOUR right side.
posted by umlaut at 12:37 AM on November 25, 2006

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