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How your sleeping habits and postures are breaking your health

Did you know that lower back pain, blood pressure, snoring and a host of other issues can be resolved if you sleep properly. Sleep and overall health are the first casualties of today’s fast-paced world where stress is a common denominator.

In fact, globally the average sleep duration has fallen from 7 hours and 3 minutes to 6 hours and 59 minutes which is way below the essential 7-hour sleep threshold.
These findings are gleaned by a 2023 study which is based on the analyses of 716 million nights of sleep behaviors. According to the study, “Individuals aged over 70 experienced a decline nearly twice as much as that observed in those in their twenties. And, North America witnessed the greatest decrease in sleep efficiency, while Asia maintained the lowest.

How sleeping postures impact health
• Sleeping on the stomach: Besides accelerating the risk of neck and back pain, sleeping on the stomach can cause extreme discomfort.
• Sleeping on side: According to Deepak Pal, sports and functional nutritionist, SENS Clinic, "This position can definitely scale down sleep apnea—a condition wherein the body gets less oxygen supply owing to irregular breathing pattern while sleeping. It also reduces snoring and has the ability to reduce heartburn, acidity and even take care of back pain besides improving blood circulation."
• Fetal position: Here, the sleeper’s body is curled into a ball as the hands and legs are bent. One of the key benefits of this position is that it can reduce the pressure to the heart and is recommended for those with a shoulder injury and also pregnant women. It also alleviates snoring.
• Sleeping on the back: This position can also lessen wrinkles and also encourages spinal alignment and is considered good for the neck muscles, as well.
• Elevated leg position: This is typically recommended for those who suffer from high blood pressure as it promotes better circulation and also reduces swelling.

Understanding the importance of sleep

In a world fraught with stress at every turn, emotional well-being has taken the centerstage, especially post-pandemic. Therefore, a good night’s sleep and even a power nap not only elevate the mood but also keeps various cardiovascular diseases and other lifestyle diseases like obesity and diabetes at bay. On a psychological level, it also gives a feeling of alertness and energy thereby being a good mood elevator by keeping depression, stress at bay.

On a physical level, besides improving focus and mental clarity, good sleep also leads the body to repair tissues and adds a glow to the skin. Besides being a great mood elevator, at least seven to eight hours of sleep can help in weight regulation, reduce the risk of injury and also improve cognitive health. It also scales down inflammation and increases longevity.

It’s important to get enough sleep as it has many benefits beyond maximizing athletic performance, such as calorie control, reducing accident risk, and improving an individual's sensitivity and understanding.