When was the last time you slept like a baby? You know when you wake up from an 8-hour sleep and you feel so refreshed? It’s a rare sleep to have, but we should be trying to sleep like this every single night.
But did you know that experts say there’s a ‘miracle’ sleeping position that can not only improve the overall quality of your sleep but also combat the symptoms of health struggles and conditions like arthritis, muscle and joint pain, insomnia, snoring, acid reflux, poor circulation, and varicose veins?
The sleep specialists at adjustable bed retailer Opera Beds say the ‘zero-gravity’ sleeping position has a whole host of health benefits many people are unaware of.
Apparently, it’s the best way to help you drift off peacefully with ‘the ultimate relaxation’.
“Zero-gravity is a neutral position that’s achieved by laying flat on your back and raising both your head and feet slightly above your heart level, so the spine is neutrally aligned - therefore relieving pressure on your body,” Opera Beds say.
The sleep position was created by NASA to protect astronauts’ bodies from the significant forces they’re subjected to during space travel. “They found the neutral position to mean the head is raised at a 90-degree angle and the body at around 120 degrees, with knees and elbows slightly bent,” they add.
So, what are the benefits of the zero-gravity sleeping position?
Sleep apnoea and snoring
Snoring is usually associated with blocked airways that cause loud vibrations or can even be indicative of a sleep disorder such as obstructive sleep apnoea. While they don’t necessarily cause pain or discomfort, they can certainly disrupt your sleep.
“The zero-gravity position lifts the head section gently to put you in the optimum position that opens the airways and therefore helps to prevent vibration on the throat tissues, which can reduce snoring,” Opera Beds said.
As the head is also elevated it prevents the tongue from falling back into the throat and blocking the airway which again can lead to snoring. “Providing a more practical and comfortable solution than pillow stacking which can be bad for neck muscles,” they added.
Insomnia and sleep disruption
If you suffer from insomnia, and find it hard to drift off or wake regularly during the night, then the zero-gravity position could be the sleeping position for you.
“Being able to change your sleeping position easily to suit your needs and find a more comfortable position can help you to relax, and stop you tossing and turning, which can be a huge help for those suffering from sleep disruption,” Opera Beds said.
They continue: “The zero-gravity position is a relaxing and natural position generally, and setting yourself in it will help you to drift off, as the pressure is taken off of your body.”
Circulation issues, oedema, and varicose veins
Poor circulation is a problem that can be caused by multiple conditions, such as oedema, which is a build-up of fluid in the body that causes the tissue to become swollen. However, the zero-gravity position can help with circulation issues.
“The head and knees are aligned and slightly elevated above the level of your heart. This, combined with minimal pressure on the body, allows for better circulation, leading to healthier sleep,” Opera Beds say.
Healthy circulation can in some cases reduce the risk of other issues such as Deep Vein Thrombosis, and the zero-gravity position is also highly beneficial for those suffering with varicose veins – which are generally swollen and enlarged veins found on the legs and feet that can cause muscle cramps, swollen feet and an uncomfortable ‘burning’ sensation in legs.
“Sleeping with the legs elevated helps with varicose veins, as it lets them rest properly without pressure build-up – which promotes healing and relaxation. Adjustable beds also make it easier to find a range of comfortable positions and take the pressure off your legs by using the elevated leg rest,” Opera Beds explain.
Acid reflux, heartburn, and digestion problems
Heartburn is common and can be extremely uncomfortable – affecting up to 1 in every 4 UK adults. It occurs after eating and is a symptom of acid reflux - where stomach contents, including gastric acid, is regurgitated into the oesophagus.
Most of us will struggle with it at some point in our lives, but it may affect those with gastroesophageal reflux disease more. Lying down to sleep flat – even when we’ve not eaten in a while – can still cause this acid to creep upwards, which is where the zero-gravity position can help.
“Sleeping with your head raised slightly helps with heartburn and acid reflux and can reduce the symptoms. It ensures gravity can work to prevent stomach acid from leaking up into the oesophagus,” Opera Beds adds.
“It can also promote healthy digestion, reducing the risk of heartburn and acid reflux. Sleeping in an elevated position helps the body to process food easier, as sleeping in a flat position can slow down the digestion process and makes it harder,” they say.