Kiwis’ Increasing Waistlines Forcing Us to Find New Sleep Positions to Help Breathing - Research
Kiwis’ expanding waistlines and higher BMIs are forcing us to adopt new sleep positions to help them breathe - according
to new research.
Around half (48%) of adult New Zealanders sleep on their side - a position which researchers say increases in preference
as we age and our Body Mass Index (BMI) rises.
The new research from mattress retailer Ecosa also found that as we age we tend to move away from sleeping in other
positions such as on our back, stomach and ‘freestyle’ (a variation in sleep position).
The sleep position preference study which collected data from more than 730 Kiwis from around the country found that
around a sixth (17%) of us prefer to sleep on our backs, a tenth (8%) sleep on our stomachs and a further quarter (27%)
are freestyle sleepers.
Ecosa CEO Ringo Chan says the New Zealand data is consistent with European research which found similar proportions of
sleep position preference among adults
“The New Zealand study results are in line with international data which showed one in every two adults prefer to sleep
on their side.
“In addition to showing a correlation between an increase in age, the researchers also noted that preference for this
position also increases with weight and BMI,” he says.
Chan says understanding your sleep position is important as it can be associated with a wide range of health concerns
ranging from respiratory issues through to premature wrinkles.
He says while the reasons for our preferences in sleep position are not fully understood by scientists, a number of
theories have been put forward.
“Researchers have suggested that the reason the side position preference increases with age is due to loss of
flexibility of the spine and/or the extra effort required for breathing in the front position.
“Side sleeping also helps to open our airways to allow for steady airflow to the lungs.
“Lying on your back and assuming a neutral body position typically results in the least amount of strain on your head,
neck and spine however studies show links between this position and snoring,” says Chan.
He says sleeping on your stomach may make breathing regularly a challenge because airway passages could be compromised
and others may experience neck pain or tingling in joints and muscles due to poor circulation.
Chan says research has also found a link between this position and the development of facial wrinkles
Notes to Editors:
The Ecosa study collected demographic and sleep position data from 733 Kiwis aged 13+ from around New Zealand.
Skarpsno ES, Mork PJ, Nilsen TIL, Holtermann A
. Sleep positions and nocturnal body movements based on free-living accelerometer recordings: association with
demographics, lifestyle, and insomnia symptoms. Accessiblehere
Goesel Anson, Michael A.C. Kane, Val Lambros, Sleep Wrinkles: Facial Aging and Facial Distortion During Sleep, Aesthetic Surgery Journal, Volume 36, Issue 8, September 2016, Pages 931–940,https://doi.org/10.1093/asj/sjw074