The Functional Benefits of Being Upside Down
Hanging upside down with your head facing the ceiling is not only good for relaxation but it can also improve cognitive function. Research shows that people who sleep face up have better memory than those who sleep face down. However, some studies show that when someone sleeps face up their blood pressure goes up and they get headaches.
However, if you are looking at something while you sleep, like a book or computer screen, then your eyes stay open longer and your blood vessels dilate. You are less likely to get headaches because you do not need as much oxygen during these periods of time. Your body gets more energy from the light that enters through your eyelids. Therefore, this type of sleep is called nocturnal eye movement (NREM) sleep.
In addition to improving your memory, NREM sleep also improves your reaction times. Studies show that people who sleep with their heads turned towards a light have faster reactions than those who don’t.
Another benefit of sleeping with your head tilted upwards is that it helps you fall asleep quicker. When you lie flat on the bed, it takes around 30 minutes before you start falling asleep. When you sleep with your head tilted, you fall asleep in 15 minutes.
Other studies show that sleeping face up can help you fall asleep quicker. When you are in this position, your blood vessels dilate and pressure on your spinal cord is released. As a result, your brain does not have to work as hard to stabilize your posture. There are many other benefits of sleeping with your head tilted upwards.
Should You Invert Your Head To Improve Your Memory?
When you sleep your head on the floor, your brain gets less blood and oxygen because of the inverted position. However, some people believe that this position helps you improve your memory. The rationale behind this process is that face down positions cause the carotid arteries to compress and this in turn reduces blood flow to the brain. When blood flow is reduced, the brain cells are forced to find an alternative source of oxygen, which they get from breaking down glycogen to release glucose for their energy.
This process is referred to as hypoxic training and it forces your brain to be more efficient with the oxygen that it receives. This, in turn, makes your brain create new cells in the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that is important for memory formation. The new cells in the hippocampus increase the memory capacity of your brain.
Even though this process is effective in improving memory, it is not without risks especially for people with low blood pressure. When you sleep face down, your blood pressure drops which can lead to dizziness and disorientation upon standing. If you have a history of fainting or if you are severely hypotensive, then you should avoid inverting your head because it can worsen your condition.
What’s The Best Way To Sleep?
From the research above, it is obvious that sleep is an important process in maintaining a healthy brain. We spend around a third of our lives sleeping. Hence, if you are going to spend one third of your life on something, you might as well pick the best position to do it.
If you want to improve your memory and increase your intelligence, then you should sleep with your head tilted upwards. If you want to fall asleep quickly and avoid insomnia, then you should sleep with your head tilted downwards. If you want to improve your athletic performance, then you should sleep with your head facing towards the North Pole.
The choice is entirely up to you!
More Tips To Improve Your Sleep
If you are not getting enough sleep, then you should read this book by Kelly Bacon which contains a lot of tips on how to get a good night’s rest.
Have you tried sleeping with your head tilted in any of the positions mentioned above?
Let me know in the comments!
Sources & references used in this article:
Upside‐down faces: A review of the effect of inversion upon face recognition by T Valentine – British journal of psychology, 1988 – Wiley Online Library
An upside-down normal loss function-based method for quality improvement by O Köksoy, SKS Fan – Engineering Optimization, 2012 – Taylor & Francis
The world turned upside down: below replacement fertility, changing preferences and family-friendly public policy in 21 OECD countries by FG Castles – Journal of European social policy, 2003 – journals.sagepub.com
Before-profit social responsibility: Turning the economic paradigm upside down by YC Kang, DJ Wood – Proceedings of the International Association for …, 1995 – pdcnet.org
Smiling when distressed: When a smile is a frown turned upside down by ME Ansfield – Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 2007 – journals.sagepub.com
A world turned upside down: Social ecological approaches to children in war zones by A Strang, MG Wessells – 2006 – books.google.com
… patients with central macular scotomas during reading related tasks using scanning laser ophthalmoscopy: immediate functional benefits and gains retention by A Déruaz, M Goldschmidt, AR Whatham, C Mermoud… – BMC …, 2006 – Springer
Turning the world upside down: the search for global health in the 21st century by N Crisp – 2010 – books.google.com