What Position Should You Sleep In?

Not quite the million dollar question, but I do get asked this on a fairly frequent basis, and the answer may help you to stop fretting about it.


There's a transcript of the video below it.

A question I get asked not infrequently is what position should I sleep in? Now let me give you two answers, I'm going to give you the flippant and glib answer, and then I'll give  uou a longer answer.  So the flippat and glib answer is: what are you gonna do about it, you're asleep?! It seems really obvious doesn't it? But you obviously move a lot in your sleep so whatever position you think you ought to sleep in, half an hour later, being asleep,  you could have rolled anywhere. I'm Adrian, a full-time teacher of the Alexander Technique, and the longer answer I want to give you is the actual position you sleep in doesn't matter a great deal. With a bit of Common Sense it's more about the quality of your sleep which is going to mostly be affected by the quality of your wakefulness, so you'll carry the quality of your nervous system during your waking hours into your sleep.


If you've ever seen pet dogs and cats asleep they sleep in some crazy positions. Small children, I've got two daughters, eight and ten; from being babies, but it still happens, you go in the morning to get them up and they're in some ridiculous positions, and it doesn't do them any harm. I think there's a couple of reasons for this, one of which is their nervous systems hadn't built up  huge amounts of habitual tension, so that when they're in a odd position, if you want to call it that, the position itself isn't fighting inbuilt tension. And when that happens, when your position is pulling against an already tight muscle, that's when we wake up feeling quite sore. The other is, to a degree, to do with size, levers and pulleys. I'm tallish, I'm six foot one, I would generally recommend the tall to have a firmer bed just as common sense really, so you're not dealing with that curvature, if your bed's sagging because it's soft. Then you don't have to deal with that on a physical level so there's some common sense. 


I'm not suggesting everyone, in an idealized situation, is going to go to bed, even with Alexander lessons, perfectly,  with a nice neutral quiet nervous system and muscle tone, because that's not life, and we're always working on it, and improving on it. And then we have a bad day, who doesn't have a bad day?  And we might take some of that into sleep, so it's useful to have what we might call in the Alexander Technique, Mechanical Advantage. We usually use that in terms of sitting and standing but you could use the same phrase for being well supported by your bed and your pillow.  A pillow is really there to take the strain from your head to your shoulder. Obviously the shoulder tends to sag it into the mattress a bit, even a firm mattress.  The pillow's there to take up that that gap. But of course you might end up sleeping on you front, or your back. If  you've moved and you know then just don't sweat it. So that's the longer answer, working on yourself during your waking hours will help your sleeping hours. Now one thing you can do to help that is by doing what we call Constructive Rest or Semi-Supine, which is lying on your back with your knees up and your head resting on a book. A good time to do that would be just before you go to bed because we often go to bed very much kind of stressed out,  "I must go to sleep" and of course you can't. If you spend 10 to 15 minutes quieting yourself down with Constructive Rest beforehand, before you get into bed, you'll be nicely released physically, but also mentally, in your nervous system, so you're more prepared to then just drop off to sleep. So that's another good bit of constructive advice, of something you can do to help your your sleeping. I hope you found that useful, if you would  like to take online Alexander lessons just get in touch with me and we'll have a chat and see if I can help.

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