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Position Yourself for Better Sleep

Waking up on the right side of the bed could be as simple as changing your sleep posture
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Sleep is in short supply these days. An eight-hour workday is a thing of the past -- eight hours of sleep seems like an absurd dream most nights. And if busy schedules and constantly beeping devices aren't enough of a disruption, it turns out that even the position you sleep in may be affecting the quality and quantity of shut-eye you get.

But it's not just your sleep that's affected. Whether you're a back sleeper, a side sleeper, or a face-buried-in-your-pillow stomach sleeper, your sleep position may also be to blame for your puffy eyes, saggy face and persistent migraines -- not to mention a host of other issues. See how your preferred position may be wreaking havoc on your sleep and your health.

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Your Sleep Position:  On Your Back
Sleep Ranking: Ideal

Who/What It's Good For:
If you already sleep on your back, congratulations! Keep on with your snoozing style. "Sleeping on your back is the ideal position, because it displaces your weight and puts less strain on your skeletal frame," says psychologist Michael Breus, Ph.D., board certified in clinical sleep disorders and author of "The Sleep Doctors Diet Plan: Simple Rules for Losing Weight While You Sleep." In other words, you'll have fewer problems with back and neck pain than with other positions. Sleeping on your back also puts less wrinkle-inducing pressure and friction on your face. "If you're sleeping on your back already, you can easily add another pillow under your head to help with puffiness under the eyes," says dermatologist Doris Day, M.D., author of "Forget the Facelift." The slight elevation keeps fluid from building up under your eyes as you sleep.

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Your Sleep Position:  On Your Back
Who/What It's Bad For:
While sleeping face up helps keep wrinkles at bay, it's not the perfect position for sleepers with sinus issues such as allergies, sinus headaches, snoring or sleep apnea. "If you already have sinus problems, sleeping on your back will only push existing drainage up your sinuses further and increase pain," says Dr. Breus. All of that mucus (apologies for the graphic mental image) falls to the back of the throat as you're sleeping, which can cause you to wake up frequently with coughing attacks. Rather than try to switch sleeping positions (a nearly impossible task), Dr. Breus recommends trying to treat your allergies or sleep apnea first. Sleeping on your back is still ideal, mucus aside.

Try This:
Board certified spine surgeon Dr. Hooman Melamed, MD, who's been featured on "The Doctors," "The Steve Hardy Show" and "Dr. Oz," suggests choosing a mattress with plenty of support that allows you to sink into it. "Memory foam reduces stress on pressure points and is good for the spine (and helps absorb movement if your partner is a restless sleeper). Latex mattresses are another good option, and if you want to save money, latex toppers are available." Although they seem quite messy (and a little '70s), waterbeds are also ideal for back sleepers.

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Your Sleep Position:  On Your Stomach
Sleep Ranking: Bad news ...

Who/What It's Good For:
Sleeping on your stomach isn't necessarily good for anyone. If you have problems with your sinuses or allergies and really can't sleep on your back, it's better to try sleeping on your side than snoozing on your stomach (the transition is also easier).

Who/What It's Bad For:
Sleeping on your stomach comes with an entire list of problems, from more wrinkles to increased neck pain. But keep reading! There are subtle changes you can make to transition into a different position. "Waking up in pain is the clearest indication it's time to change your sleep position," says Dr. Breus. And if you're sleeping on your stomach, you're bound to experience neck pain, because the position keeps your neck turned at an almost 90-degree angle, straining the muscles.

Sleeping on your stomach is also the No. 1 worst position in terms of wrinkles and aging. The pressure of your face pressing into your pillow will lead to more fine lines, in addition to puffiness around the eyes. "When you sleep on your stomach, your head is at the level of your heart, especially if you sleep with a flatter pillow, so you are going to get much more blood flow to your face," says Dr. Day. However, it's also important to remember that your lifestyle still plays into aging. "Sun protection is important no matter what position you're sleeping in. The sun is what's breaking down the collagen in your skin. If you sleep on your stomach but you're someone who never goes out in the sun, you're going to be less likely to get that sleep wrinkle." For a gentler night's sleep on your skin, it's worth investing in a higher thread count or satin pillowcase to avoid chafing.

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Your Sleep Position:  On Your Stomach
Try This:
If you're a chronic stomach sleeper, it's easier to transition to sleeping on your side than it is to your back. Dr. Breus suggests wearing two t-shirts to bed. Between the two shirts, rest a football on your stomach. The football will keep you from comfortably rolling onto your stomach and should help you naturally transition to side sleeping in seven to ten days. But if sleeping with a football seems a little, er ... inconvenient, try sleeping with a body pillow (or partaking in some spooning.) "Holding the object close will keep you from rolling forward onto your face and stomach, but you'll still feel as though you're sleeping in a forward position," says Dr. Day.

If all else fails and you still find yourself facedown each night, Dr. Melamed recommends a firm mattress to support the natural curve of your spine and to keep you from over-arching.

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