The American Sleep Apnea Association opines that over 50 million Americans grapple with some form of sleep disorder. Another 20 – 30 million, according to the same source, suffer from intermittent sleep issues annually.
Fortunately, remedies to sleep disorders abound. If you desire salubrious slumber, one of the things you have to alter is how you sleep. Your sleeping position plays a big role in the quality of your sleep.
Do you sleep on your back? Where do you place your legs or knees? Do you sleep flat or with your head elevated? It’s important to find and stick to a comfortable sleeping position.
One of the million-dollar questions affecting many sleepers has to do with the positioning of their head. In this article, we seek to establish whether sleeping with the head elevated is good or bad. Read on …
Is It Good To Sleep With Head Elevated?
There is no harm in sleeping with the head elevated.
As we shall learn in the later sections of this article, sleeping with the head elevated is handy for certain sleep conditions such as sleep apnea according to this study.
In Defense of Sleeping with Elevated Head
Now that we have established that sleeping with an elevated head is not harmful, at least in many situations, we need to prove why you should try it. Well, elevating your head as you sleep is helpful for an array of conditions.
You should place your head in this position when sleeping if you suffer from any of the following medical conditions:
1. Sleep Apnea
As we have already outlined earlier in this article, sleep apnea is one of the conditions that can benefit immensely from an elevated head at night when sleeping. Just like some of the other conditions we have mentioned in this primer, elevating your head can help to mitigate the symptoms of this condition.
You can use an adjustable bed or wedge-shaped pillows to achieve the right angle of elevation. The rule of thumb is to sleep in a position that keeps your airways more open.
Bricks can also be handy if placed on the head side of the bed to achieve the right height.
2. Post-Nasal Drip
Do you know that how you sleep can help alleviate the post-nasal drip syndrome? This stubborn, nasty cold, sneezing, and coughing isn’t for the faint-hearted. All one wants when suffering from this condition is to rest in bed.
Unfortunately, once you find your way into your cozy and comfortable latex mattress, the symptoms always seem to worsen. That is what makes this condition an annoying and uncomfortable nuisance at night.
The good thing is that with the right positioning when asleep, you can manage postnasal drip and enjoy a comfortable sleep. One of the things you can do is to elevate your head.
Raising your head with a pillow will help you channel the mucus down your throat particularly when sleeping on the back. When choosing pillows for this condition, ensure you settle for the hypoallergenic ones. The last thing you want is to choose any pillow as it can bring with it an allergic reaction which can further worsen your condition.
Propping the head side of the bed can also be magical. You can use blockers or bed risers for this.
COPD refers to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. If you regularly wake up because of shortness of breath coupled with a stubborn and agonizing pain that won’t leave, then you could be suffering from COPD.
If you have COPD, the last thing you want to do is lay or sleep flat. Sleeping with an elevated head can reduce some stress on your lungs. This is more effective when you first sleep on your side and then you prop your head uprightly.
When the head is on a flat surface, you are restricting your airways. This can result in hyperventilation. Guys with this condition need to pay close attention to the support they give their heads as they sleep.
Again, you do not want to place so many pillows as they can do more harm than good. Just one high-quality pillow should be enough to ensure that your airways are open throughout the night.
4. Heart Burn or Gerd
According to WebMD, 1 out of 5 Americans suffers from acid reflux and heartburn every week. In this study, researchers sought to establish the effects on elevated head or bed on patients with acid reflux. The results were impressive.
Acid reflux takes place when our stomachs are unable to close thereby making acid to go back to the food pipe, infuriating the lining resulting in heartburn. This condition is common when you are laying down flat as the gravity encourages its occurrences compared to when you’re in an upright position.
Due to the reduced force of gravity, acidic content remains in the food tube longer and gets to the mouth effortlessly.
Raising your head or bed with pillows or bed risers is an effective way to prevent this from according to the quoted study.
If you are constantly grappling with heartburn or GERD, you can how to manage acid reflux from Harvard University.Also Read: Sleep Solutions for Pregnancy Heartburn Relief: 8 Useful Tips
5. Dark Circles
Dark eye circles might not be dangerous. That’s granted. Nonetheless, those with them are always seeking effective ways to get rid of them as they make them look older and tired.
Surprisingly, elevating your head when sleeping can be a partial remedy. You wonder how?
Folks that experience the darkening of skin below their eyes when they wake up in the morning then fades as the day progresses tend to have escalated vasculature or blood vessels around the eyes. Swelling can also inform the dark color.
So how does elevating the head when sleeping help with such a scenario? When you prop your head, blood travels from the face and head which are the two most affected areas by the dark circles. Since blood is channeled away from these areas, the swelling and darkening of the area around the eyes might reduce.Also Read: How to Get Rid of Dark Circles?
How To Keep Your Head Elevated While Sleeping?
You can raise your head while sleeping in several ways. Some of the most common and easiest ways include:
- Using an adjustable bed
- Using foam wedges
- Using one extra pillow
- Placing risers or blocks beneath your bed’s legs on the head area of your bed
So what’s the ideal degree of elevation? Well, 10 – 30 degrees should be fine. The rule of thumb is to make sure that you’re as comfortable as possible.
Can Sleeping With Elevated Head/Body Cause Back Pain?
No, the opposite is true!
Sleeping elevated does better than harm to your spine or back health. If you are grappling with back pain or spinal alignment issues, you should consider an elevated position, just the right one to ensure your spinal’s curvature is comfortable.
When you rest on an adjustable bed, your upper body relaxes as a slight incline. The lower body enjoys support below the knees in such a way that it bends, also, at a slight angle.
While back pain, in general, can benefit from sleeping on an adjustable bed, certain specific back conditions seem to benefit more. They include:
Spinal stenosis makes one desire to bend forward rather than stand up straight. For this reason, laying down on a flatbed can turn out to be uncomfortable to folks with stenosis compared to laying on a lounging position that a modifiable bed provides.
Those with Osteoarthritis along their spine or grappling with joint arthritis tend to wake up with a sore or stiff feeling in the morning. By resting on an adjustable bed in an elevated position, they enjoy better support by decreasing the inflammation or irritation through the reduction of joint compression.
Modifiable beds can also be handy for those with Degenerative spondylolisthesis in the sense that its elevated position provides support below the knees to decrease distress or aching on the back. This goes miles to make it more effortless to enjoy a comfortable sleep at night.
Role of Earth’s Magnetic Field in Head Positioning During Sleep
According to the ancient Ayurveda, our bodies, including the head need to be positioned correctly to be in sync with the planet’s electrical and magnetic principles.
For instance, since Earth’s magnetic fields tend to concentrate on the South and North pole, when we sleep with our heads facing north, our body’s magnetic field obstructs that of earth. When this happens, it can not only cause heart problems but also fluctuating blood pressure.
Sleeping while the head looks north can also affect your blood flow resulting to troubled sleep. For these reasons, you should avoid laying on your bed as the head faces north.
South and east directions are the best directions for sleeping.