Back, Side or Stomach?

Best positions for sleep

Your sleeping preferences can impact your health.

Chances are you’ve got one—that go-to sleeping position that helps you doze off at night. Maybe it involves curling up on your side or sprawling on your back.

Just like when you’re awake, the body position you adopt while asleep can have an impact on body aches, fatigue, sleep apnea, circulation and heartburn. So, how can you pick the right position?

Sleep is very important, so if you can only fall asleep in a certain position, it’s better than not sleeping at all. If you’re not dedicated to one approach to falling asleep, certain sleeping positions have been shown to have advantages.

Back Sleepers

According to the National Sleep Foundation, about 8 percent of the population chooses to sleep on their back. It’s a shame, too, because sleeping on your back is one of the healthiest options.

For most people, sleeping on the back positions the head, neck and spine so that they can rest with minimal strain, which may be ideal for people who wake up feeling sore or achy. By facing the ceiling and using a pillow that slightly raises your upper torso, you can also help prevent nighttime acid reflux.

Despite the benefits, sleeping on your back is not perfect for everyone. For example, it could increase the severity of snoring and be problematic for people who might have sleep apnea.

Side Sleepers

If you prefer sleeping on your side or in a fetal position—with your head tucked toward your chest and your knees pulled high—you’re not alone. Fifty-six percent of people claim that they prefer this position when it is time to sleep.

With an appropriate pillow and mattress that firmly supports your head, neck and the arch of your back, sleeping on your side can be good for preventing body aches and acid reflux. Plus, you'll be less likely to snore.

If you have a bad back or hips, however, sleeping in the fetal position can cause strain in these areas. You can alleviate some of this added pressure by placing a pillow between your knees before you fall asleep.

Stomach Sleepers

Seven percent of people choose to sleep on their stomach with their head looking off to either side. The only benefit of this position is that it can ease snoring.

If you spend most nights sleeping like this, your spine and neck have trouble staying in a neutral position. This added strain may cause you to wake up with aches and pains. It can also put extra pressure on joints and muscles that could cause limbs to go numb.

No matter which position you prefer, a comfortable mattress and pillow are essential for helping you achieve a good night’s rest.

Sources:

sleep.org, bettersleep.org, urmc.rochester.edu, Harvard.edu, sleep.org, sleepfoundation.org, sleepfoundation.org, sleepfoundation.org, sleepapnea.org, sleep.orgncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Our Family of Centers

Back to Healthy Living Tips