Where Do You Sleep and How It Affects Your Health

October 26, 2023

The place you sleep makes a difference to your health. The right mattress, pillows, and the direction you sleep in can help reduce back pain and snoring. It also may impact your mood and emotional stability. A good night's sleep can help the brain reorganize and clear out unnecessary information, such as bad memories or worries, explains a new study published in Current Biology. It also boosts activity in the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory function and emotional regulation. That's why people who don't get enough rest tend to become anxious and depressed.

On a typical night, you'll spend around 90 minutes in deep sleep and about 50 in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. During REM, your eyes move rapidly behind closed lids and brain waves mimic those of wakefulness. Your body is also temporarily paralyzed during this stage, which is associated with intense dreaming. It's also when your body produces the most growth hormone.

The most popular position for sleeping is on the side—about 15 percent of people sleep this way, compared to 7 percent who curl up into a fetal position and 7 percent who sleep on their stomachs. For this position, a medium-firm or firm mattress that supports the spine's alignment from the hips to the head is recommended, as well as a pillow that doesn't cradle the neck. It's also best for pregnant women to sleep on their left sides because it allows the heart to pump blood more efficiently and alleviates pressure on the liver.

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