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Sleeping with your arms up : pros and cons!
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Woman sleeping with arms up


Sleeping with your arms up : pros and cons!

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There are many different sleeping positions to choose from as you drift off to sleep. However, you might not often think of the pros and cons of your sleeping position.

Many of us sleep in a position we feel most comfortable without thinking of the side effects that can come with the odd positions, such as sleeping with your arms up above your head.

A sleeping couple on the side in bed

The different sleeping positions

As you know, there are three main sleeping positions: back, side, and stomach.

However, there are variations of these positions, including sleeping curled in the fetal position or sleeping with arms up above head and legs spread apart, the latter of which is often referred to as the Starfish sleeping position.

The sleep position you choose can lead to unwanted side effects, such as joint pain, body aches, breathing difficulties, or an increase in back pain.

What does sleeping with your arms up mean?

Most people choose a sleeping position, including sleeping with their arms up, based on basic things, like habit or comfort.

Some people, though, who sleep next to a significant other, find themselves, either consciously or unconsciously, creating extra space for cuddles or closeness by sleeping with arms up above the head.

Woman sleeping with her arms above her head on a sofa

Others sleep with their arms up because they aren’t breathing as well as they should, and sleeping with your arms above your head is a natural way to open the lungs, allowing easier breathing.

So, if you find you’re sleeping in this “Starfish” position, it might be a natural response by your body throughout the night if you experience an increase in difficulty breathing.

Lastly, one survey revealed that those who sleep in the Starfish position may be more prone to sleepwalk.

Woman sleeping with her right hand behind her head and her left hand on her belly on a sofa

Is it bad to sleep with your arms up?

According to some sleep specialists, Starfish sleeping may increase the risk of sleep apnea (spontaneous pauses in breathing), and lower back pain.

Whether you are sleeping with arms up while pregnant, through teenage years, or even into older age, joint pain is often the biggest concern.

While sleeping with arms up doesn’t necessarily impact the quality of sleep you receive, it’s not the most recommended sleep position, as it could increase risks of sleep apnea, and it could lead to lower back pain as it doesn’t allow for proper spinal alignment throughout the night.

Is it bad for a baby to sleep with his arms above his head?

Many new parents find themselves questioning if it is safe for their new baby to sleep with arms up. Babies often sleep in a position of comfort, whether that be arms up, out, down, or fully swaddled.

As long as you are practicing safe sleep-space standards, such as not placing pillows, blankets, toys, or bumper pads in a crib or bassinet your baby is using, then a healthy baby sleeping with their arms above their head is generally nothing to be overly concerned about. That said, it’s always a good idea to address any issues or concerns like this with your baby’s pediatrician.

Close-up of baby sleeping in bed

Frequently asked questions

The Moro reflex is the cause of your newborn baby to sleep with his arms above his head. This reflex, commonly referred to as the “startle reflex”, disappears by 6 months of age. It occurs when light or noise startles your baby, even if the noise is not enough to fully wake the baby.

Why do I keep sleeping with my arms up?

Again, many people sleep in a position of comfort. If you find yourself waking with your arms above your head, it’s likely that at some point in the night you feel more comfortable sleeping in a Starfish position rather than a traditional sleeping position. Know though that this can also be indicative of experiencing trouble breathing, as this sleep position allows the lungs to open fully to allow an ample amount of air in and out.

Sleep experts recommend sleeping on your back with arms down or crossed over your chest or sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees for support. The Polysleep pillow is ideal for all sleep positions, as it is fully customizable to fit your specific needs.

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At Polysleep, we understand that finding a position of comfort while you’re asleep may become increasingly difficult — especially if your position of comfort leads to aches and pains the following day.

The Polysleep Pillow is a soft and squishy pillow made of high-end memory foam, and is fully customizable to provide ample support and comfort regardless of the position you sleep in.

In fact, The Polysleep Pillow can be adjusted from 2" in height up to 9" inches, depending on the number of hybrid foam layers you decide to use.

With the Polysleep pillow’s 100% cotton cover, you'll feel cool throughout the entire night thanks to its soft and silky finish, allowing you to wake to feel well-rested and rejuvenated each morning.

Head of a sleeping woman on the Polysleep pillow

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