5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Sleep Flat
Understand the Benefits of Elevating your Body and Feet
By Adarsh Shah
Why do we sleep on a flat surface? Is it good for our bodies? Or does it improve sleep quality? We know from observing other animals that there are other options available. Bats, for example, sleep upside down, while horses sleep standing up. So, is one sleeping position better for our health than others? Below you will find 5 reasons why you shouldn’t sleep flat on your back, along with some helpful suggestions to help you improve your sleeping position.
The obvious starting point is the sleeping surface. Our bodies are not flat, so why do we assume it’s best to sleep on a flat surface? Simply put, it’s due to ease and cost. Unsurprisingly, it is expensive to manufacture custom-shaped mattresses that fit the exact curves of our bodies. And even if you do purchase one, your body’s weight and contour will inevitably shift as you age, requiring you to purchase different mattress profiles over time.
Animals that do not sleep on a consistent surface night after night – like bats, horses and elephants – have different muscle and skeletal structures that enable them to sleep in different positions. For example, flamingos – which sleep standing up – have thigh muscles that are oriented horizontally. Through this orientation, flamingos can simply place one of their legs under their centre of gravity for balance, and sleep soundly using minimal muscle force.
In contrast, human thigh muscles are oriented vertically. We are indisputably designed to sleep horizontally. That being said, once we’re in a horizontal position, there is no physiological evidence to suggest that we have to sleep on an entirely flat surface. As long as the platform is relatively horizontal, a surface that conforms to the natural C-shaped lordotic curve of our spine is the optimal way to sleep.
Longer, Deeper Sleep
Scientists discovered that by placing a pressure-relieving mattress on top of an adjustable base, the mattress curved to the natural contours of the body. This custom curvature was achieved by elevating the leg portion of the bed at the knee joint, and raising/inclining the back of the
bed. The elevated sleeping position led to fewer interruptions during the night and a longer, deeper sleep. However, the health benefits didn’t end there.
Reduced Cervical, Thoracic and Lumbar Back Pain
Raising the leg portion of an adjustable bed can shift your body weight lower, thus reducing pressure on your lower spine and lower back muscles. This in turn, will shift the weight towards the buttocks, which are better designed to bear our body mass – as demonstrated when sitting.
There are some adjustable beds on the market with additional motors that facilitate even greater curvature customization – further reducing pressure on the spine. A motor in the lumbar area can raise the hips and boost support for vertebrae L1 to L5 of the lower spine, promoting better posture and spinal health. Further, a neck tilt motor enables customization of the neck and cervical vertebrae support. Enhanced support to vertebrae C1 to C7 of the upper spine is known to reduce shoulder and neck pain. This additional customized curvature is particularly beneficial to those suffering from sciatica, arthritis, herniated disk and scoliosis.
Your heart has to work harder when you sleep on a flat surface. Adjustable sleep systems are ideal for those suffering with hypertension, high blood pressure, and cardiac issues, as they promote improved circulation. By elevating your head and feet above the level of your heart – often called the zero-gravity position – your blood is able to flow more easily back to the heart, thereby placing less pressure on it. Many adjustable bases come with the zero-gravity position pre-programmed, to allow them to quietly glide into position at the push of a button. Unsurprisingly, improved blood flow offers a variety of health benefits, but it is particularly important for those recovering from illness, heart-attacks, or surgery.
Easier Breathing & Relief for Sleep Apnea
A further benefit of sleeping in an inclined position is improved breathing. Many people find that their snoring is also reduced due to their back being elevated, thereby relieving the pressure on their lungs and opening up their airways. Those suffering with obstructive sleep apnea may also find some relief from an improved sleeping position. Sleep apnea is a common and serious disorder in which sufferers repeatedly stop breathing for 10 seconds or more during sleep. The disorder reduces oxygen levels in the blood and can frequently awaken sleepers throughout the night. The American Sleep Apnea Association states that “Sleeping on your back with your body elevated from the waist up may help keep your airway from collapsing and, in turn, improve your condition”.
Better Gut Health
The fifth and final reason to avoid sleeping flat is that you can alleviate a number of common stomach issues. Stomach pain is a major cause of interrupted sleep – indeed, more than 65% of people diagnosed with IBD are reported to experience sleep problems. Doctors note that even common symptoms such as abdominal pain and cramping can become far more tolerable simply by revising your sleeping position with an adjustable bed. By raising the back and minutely adjusting the position of your chest and neck, you can alleviate acid reflux, indigestion and GERD – all of which promote better gut health.
Experts have long known that better sleep leads to elevated energy levels and superior standards of wellness. However, it is only now that science is uncovering ways through which we can improve our sleeping habits. So, do you know how your sleep is impacting your overall health? Do you know which steps you need to take to improve it? To learn more about improving your sleep quality, contact the friendly sleep experts at Ultramatic.
Visit our showrooms in Toronto / Mississauga / Oakville, browse www.Ultramatic.ca, email email@example.com, ping us on Facebook Messenger, or call 1-800-455-6421 for a free consultation.