The Best Sleeping Position for Breathing Problems and a Better Night’s Rest

When sleeping, we all have a favorite position that we assume before we drift off. Whether you are a pillow hugger or a starfisher, all of us have a preferred position that we know will give us the best chance of a good night’s sleep.

Yet, if you have troubles that affect your sleep, whether they be chronic insomnia or uncomfortable beds, sometimes even these poses are not enough to knock us out. Even worse, you may have breathing troubles that make your nighttime expedition to the land of nod a true nightmare.

So, what do you do? Do you just accept the fact that good sleep may be a fantasy conjured up in your sleep-deprived state?

Don’t give up so soon, for there are ways to adjust your body for a better sleep. I know we all love the positions we come to find the most comfortable for the night, but maybe it's time to try some new bodily shapes that will make our mornings shine.

Today, we will look at a couple of sleeping positions that can help with breathing problems and give you a better night’s rest.

Supine Position

Supine position for better breathing during sleep, woman sleeping in supine position in comfy bed

The supine position is when a person is lying horizontally on their back with their head and torso facing upwards. This is the common position that people are placed in when going in for surgical operations or alternatively when they are tanning on the beach.

There are some caveats that we will discuss later to sleeping in the supine position, however, most of the results that come from this pose are positive.

The supine pose does not put as much pressure on your lungs or respiratory system, as it is not being squashed or contorted, allowing it to work normally and for you to breathe comfortably through the night.

Additionally, people who sleep in the supine pose are much more likely to sleep through the night and enter REM more easily.

In some studies, sleeping in the supine position has helped with lower-level asthma symptoms, but these were only for shortness of breath and chest tightness rather than the more concerning symptoms of asthma and the symptoms were only alleviated, not stopped.

One thing to note is that if you are a sufferer of sleep apnea (especially obstructive sleep apnea), you should avoid the supine position altogether. Sleeping in the supine position with this condition can lead to more frequent blockages of the person’s airways and reduced lung volume, which can lead to serious medical issues.

Lateral Recumbent

The lateral recumbent position is when a person is lying horizontally on their side with their head and torso facing to either the left or the right. The most well known and useful form of this pose is the recovery position, which is used by medical professionals and first aid trained civilians to position an unconscious person.

Considering that this position is used mostly to keep the airways of an unconscious person open, it is the perfect position to assume when you are trying to sleep. Any obstruction to the airways, be it mechanical or fluid based, can cause serious health ramifications, with hypoxia and suffocation being the main ones.

This position will prevent those situations from occurring, even when you are asleep.

The other form of the lateral recumbent position you can assume to go to sleep is the fetal position. This position is one that humans are very comfortable with, and often people will assume during times of psychological or emotional stress to comfort themselves.

Although not as effective as the recovery position, the fetal position still uses the basic form of the lateral recumbent position that makes it effective at keeping airways open. One thing to be careful with lateral recumbent positions is if you suffer from joint or muscle problems, as it can make the next morning a nightmare after sleeping in these positions.

If you want to keep sleeping in this position but are finding it impossible due to joint pain, try placing a pillow in between your legs before drifting off for the night.

Things that Make it Harder for you to Breathe at Night

If you are having difficulties with sleeping due to breathing issues, it may be more than what’s going on in your lungs.

There could be outside influences affecting your sleep and your good night’s rest. If you can work out what they are and cut them out, you may find yourself resting easily at night.

Poor Ventilation

All too commonly, a poorly ventilated bedroom is to blame for sleeping issues. If your room is too warm and poorly ventilated, the air you breathe in and out while sleeping will be the same air, not the fresh air that is so good for us. This air will be stale, carry less oxygen, and carry more dust and dirt from being in your room. The best way to solve this is to open a window at night or leave the window on a protective latch to stop someone coming in.

Lack of Exercise During the Day

Exercise is incredibly important to breathing well. Exercise gets our blood pumping, and that in turn means more effective transport of oxygen from our lungs to the rest of our body via red blood cells.

This is why we breathe heavily when exercising, our body needs more oxygen stat and so you breathe heavily to provide that.

As much as exercise works out our muscles, it also works out our internal organs and makes them more effective at their jobs, even when we relax throughout the night.

Eating Poorly

Our eating habits dictate a lot about what our body can do. Eating well can make us more energetic, our muscles work better, and even make us happier. Eating poorly on the other hand can make us feel good in the short term and make us feel horrendous later on. Having a poor diet can even affect our breathing and make our body less effective at pumping oxygen around our body, which in turn makes our breathing slightly more labored. Naturally, this can affect our sleep as well, so it's best to check your diet if you are having sleeping issues.

Final Thoughts

Sleep is one of the most important things that human’s do. We may be unsure most of the time why we need sleep, but it is essential, as is breathing properly. Therefore, it is best to find a position that helps you do both, with it affecting your well-being.

If you are still suffering from sleep deprivation after changing position, then it is best to check environmental factors or seek help from your physician. However, with so many options available to you, you should have no worries and hopefully find your way to dreamland easily.