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What Your Sleeping Position Says About Your Health

What Your Sleeping Position Says About Your Health


As you settle into bed after a busy day, you probably don’t spare much thought for your sleeping position.

You simply get into the most comfortable position and fall asleep.

But as it turns out, most people have at least one preferred sleeping position, and it could say quite a lot about your health.

Now might be a good time to start taking note of how you sleep and see if you can resonate with some of the following information.


Back Sleeping

couple on bed mattress


Sleeping on your back can either provide relief or cause pain.

It depends on whether you have any medical conditions and even what your mattress is like.

Most pediatricians recommend putting infants on their backs to sleep, as this can reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

But as beneficial as it is for babies, it’s not always recommended for adults – at least, not all of them.

Adults with medical conditions like obstructive sleep apnea that causes the airway to become blocked while sleeping may find that sleeping on their back worsens this condition.

Some people also find that when they sleep on their back, their lower back or neck pain is worse as a result.

In saying that, others with back pain find that sleeping on their back offers relief – so there is no one size fits all approach to comfort.


Back Sleeping Positions

If you prefer sleeping on your back but are experiencing lower back or neck pain, consider placing a small pillow or rolled towel under your knees.

This can help your spine maintain its natural curve while potentially alleviating pain and discomfort during the day.

If you sleep on your back with your arms at your sides, this is known as the solider sleep position.

Many people experience health benefits sleeping in this position and can maintain it throughout the night.

Those who sleep on their back with their legs slightly apart and arms up, like a starfish, may experience numbness or tingling due to their arms’ position.

This position could also be linked to an increased prevalence of sleepwalking.


Side Sleeping

back pain


If you want to stop yourself from snoring or improve your digestion, sleep on your side.

This position is recommended for both reasons. In saying that, one side is better than the others for digestive discomfort.

You may notice that your symptoms of acid reflux or similar worsen when you are sleeping on your right side.

They might feel better when you sleep on your left side because your stomach then sits below your esophagus to reduce the risk of stomach acid rising.

If you have neck or shoulder pain, sleeping on your side may bring about incredible pain and discomfort. However, this sleeping position could reduce your lower back pain and even improve spinal alignment.

If you are pregnant or plan to be, your doctor may recommend side sleeping to improve your fetal and maternal health.

Sleeping on your left side may reduce heartburn, relieve pressure on the uterus, and promote blood flow.


Side Sleeping Positions

When you’re trying to find an ideal sleeping position, you may find it by sleeping on your side.

The most preferred sleeping position is the fetal position, with women preferring it over men.

Many people sleep with one hand under the pillow and with their posture relaxed and limbs loose.

However, a small number of people sleep well in the log position, which involves having your arms down at your sides while sleeping on your side.

Those who sleep in the log position may be more likely to sleepwalk.

If you often wake up feeling pain or discomfort in your wrists and hands, you may sleep like a yearner.

This position is where you sleep on one side with your arms outstretched. You may wake up feeling like your wrists and hands have numbness and tingling.


Stomach Sleeping

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Stomach sleeping is one of the most popular sleeping positions, and studies show that it may be able to help people with obstructive sleep apnea.

However, in most other ways, it’s likely not doing your body any favors – and isn’t a recommended sleeping position.

If you have a soft bed, it can cause pain and discomfort in your neck and lower back. This can result in daytime pain and discomfort.

What’s more, stomach sleeping (and even side sleeping) can increase your risk of intraocular pressure, which is a glaucoma risk factor.

Have you been waking up with skin breakouts and irritation? Your sleeping position may be to blame.

People with sensitive skin can experience more irritation and breakouts when they sleep on their stomachs.


Stomach Sleeping Positions

If the only way you can nod off to sleep is in on your stomach, and you’ve tried and failed other positions, there is a way to make it better for your body.

Try to sleep with your head to the left or right, rather than staying in the same position each night.

Consider using a flat pillow to keep your neck as aligned as possible and reduce the risk of neck pain.

You may also see the value in investing in a firmer mattress if you often experience back pain due to your sleep position.

Many stomach sleepers fall asleep in what is known as the freefall position. It’s one of the worst possible sleep positions but one of the most comfortable for some people.

It involves you sleeping on your stomach with your arms under or wrapped around your pillow, with your head to one side.

If you are trying to reduce pressure on your hips and shoulders, this position may be one you choose.

However, you may experience numb or even stiff hands after sleeping this way for extended periods.