Fact or Myth? Sleeping with your arms above your head causes heart disease.
This is a FACT.
Sleeping position may seem a trivial matter of personal preference. But the fact is, the way you habitually arrange your body for sleeping may have profound health implications.
Many sleep positions are associated with various health problems, especially sleeping with your arms above your head. In fact, this is something you should never do, according to Dr. John Gillick’s guide, Sleep Smart.
Among the risks involved with this sleep position is, indeed, heart disease. One of the earliest known citations on the subject appeared in Dr. James Rogers Newton’s book, The Modern Bethesda or The Gift of Healing Restored (written in 1879).
“One of the most injurious and also one of the most common habits of men and women is sleeping with the arms extended on the pillow above the head. In this posture the arteries leading from the heart to the head are closed, producing temporary congestion, and forcing the blood back to the lungs and heart.
This habit, if long continued, will produce heart disease and other physical derangements, often ending in consumption. I believe three-fourths of these diseases to be caused by this practice, and thousands have been saved by my timely warning.”
Dr. Newton was a renowned public healer from Cincinnati, Ohio who in his lifetime introduced a new system of curing disease that convinced even skeptics of his healing powers. After performing seemingly miraculous cures, Dr. Newton’s fame spread and his practice ballooned until his waiting rooms were brimming with invalids seeking his help.
Eventually, Dr. Newton was healing 100 patients a day, and many of these healings were even notarized and attested to by the most notable individuals in Cincinnati.
If you are in the habit of sleeping with your arms above your head, it may take some effort and patience to find another position that you find comfortable. Dr. Robert Rice recommends a sleeping position “that is aimed at placing your entire spine in a neutral position.”
If you sleep on your back, “neutral position” means sleeping with a small pillow under your knees and a cervical pillow under your head. A cervical pillow is an orthopedic pillow that allows your head to rest with your neck in a neutral posture.
If you sleep on your side, it means sleeping with a cervical pillow under your head, and a small pillow between your knees.
Alternating between sleeping on your right and left sides is also wise, as you will avoid cutting off circulation to one of your shoulders.