• The Bed Boss

How Your Sleep Position Affects Your Health

Updated: Oct 16, 2020

Back, side, or stomach sleeper? Find out if your sleep position could be helping or hurting your health.

Are you a back, side, or stomach sleeper? A combination sleeper? If you have found your sweet spot when it comes to your sleep position, then you have struck sweet dream gold. But what if you have been waking up in pain lately? Have you considered that your sleep position might have something to do with it? 

While various factors play a part in how well you sleep at night—like your pillow, mattress, and foundation—your sleep position affects your quality of sleep, too.

We ranked popular sleeping positions below so that you can read the pros and cons of each.

Keep in mind that the right position for you ultimately boils down to what makes YOU feel the most rested in the morning.

Sleep Position #1: Sleeping on your back

Are you a back sleeper? If so, give yourself a pat on the back for sleeping in the top-recommended position for avoiding aches and pains.

Back Sleeping Pros:

With the right pillow, back sleeping allows neutral alignment of the head, neck, and spine, reducing pressure on areas commonly prone to pain. It is a natural resting position that evenly distributes pressure across your body to help you wake up feeling refreshed.

Back Sleeping Cons:

Back sleeping isn’t exactly ideal for people who snore or have sleep apnea. Luckily, a high-loft pillow can ease the severity of snoring for back sleepers by lifting the head and preventing the tongue from interfering with the airways.

The verdict:

Back sleeping is a great position for most sleepers. Oftentimes, it is well worth the effort to train your body to stay in this position all night. If you are prone to back, neck, and shoulder aches, give it a shot to improve your posture and deter pain. But if lower back pain keeps you off your back, read on for a different sleeping position to try.

If your snoring is disrupting your sleep, consider visiting a sleep doctor to acquire a CPAP. It can take some time to adjust to, but this little machine is capable of transforming your sleep into a restorative experience. 

Sleep Position #2: Sleeping on your side

Side sleeping: a very popular sleep position that is extra cuddly.

Side Sleeping Pros:

Side sleeping stretches the spine and elongates the neck, improving circulation and warding off neck pain and snoring. Be aware that your choice of pillow can potentially make or break the effectiveness of this sleeping position.

Side Sleeping Cons:

Sleeping on your side usually causes uneven pressure points across your body, which can force you to constantly readjust your position throughout the night. More tossing and turning can make it tough to catch a solid wink of sleep. Also, familiar with the pins-and-needles feeling in your arm? If you are waking up to this feeling, your mattress may be too firm for sleeping on your side.

The verdict:

For the best side sleeping experience, choose a memory foam mattress that gently absorbs the pressure points of your knees, hips, and shoulders. Make it even better by ensuring that your head is elevated with a pillow that stops your head from dipping and aligns your neck and spine. A pillow between the knees can help reduce pinpoint pressure as well. If you find yourself curling into the fetal position, try to be proactive about stretching yourself out to avoid stiffness the next morning.

Sleep Position #3: Sleeping on your stomach

Try to avoid this sleeping position at all costs for your long term health. 

Stomach Sleeping Pros:

Stomach sleeping can help lessen snoring. But that is about the only benefit. 

Stomach Sleeping Cons:

Sleeping on your stomach can throw your back and neck out of whack by putting pressure on your spine and unevenly distributing weight across your body. When on your stomach, natural alignment is near impossible, and your curvy spine will be especially tough on your lower back. Side effects of stomach sleeping include difficulty breathing and body pains. More than likely, you will not wake up feeling great.

The verdict:

If you can give up sleeping on your stomach, please do! And if you honest to goodness can’t, then take special care when picking out your pillow to make your sleep as comfortable as possible. To minimize the cons of stomach sleeping, pick out a soft pillow with low loft. And if tolerable, keep your head face down rather than turned at a 90-degree angle to one side. Our final bit of advice: to reduce lower back pain, consider a pillow beneath your stomach, like the slim and customizable Melody Ice.

What sleeping position should you choose? Pick what feels comfortable and don’t hesitate to retrain your body to sleep in a new position that is better for your health. You may even want to consider sleeping in a few different positions to find the right one.

If you do plan to transition to something new, make sure that you are prepared with a pillow designed for the sleep position AND a mattress that will conform to your body.

For tips on how to get better sleep in any position, check out this further reading:

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