In the same way we don’t all sleep on the same mattress, we also can’t all sleep in the same position. Although there are advantages and disadvantages of each sleeping position, you should sleep in whichever position you feel is best suited and comfiest to you.
You should however consider adjusting your sleeping position if you are suffering from sleepless nights, snoring, heartburn or back pain to improve the quality of your sleep throughout the night. Although you tend to fall asleep in a similar position each night, your body moves around many times throughout to keep your muscles and limbs from going numb. Here are the pros and cons of side, back and stomach sleeping positions.
Sleeping on your back is the best position for keeping your head, neck and spine aligned - but this also relies on having the right pillow for you. You want to keep your airways open and your body straight to avoid acid reflux in your stomach - so you don’t want your pillow to be too high, where your chin is tilting too much into your chest, but your head should be slightly lifted. However, if you’re feeling brave, try sleeping on your back without a pillow at all, as this leaves the neck in a neutral position, with the airways open.
Sleeping on your back also has its benefits to your face, where your sleeping with your face fully rested and facing the ceiling - this leads to fewer facial wrinkles. And for you ladies; sleeping on your back also benefits your breast as they are less likely to sag, in comparison to sleeping on your side or front.
Had enough of your partner keeping you up at night with their snoring? You should try rolling them on their side if you can, as sleeping on their back will only prolong the sleepless nights…for you. Also, people that suffer from snoring or sleep apnea should not sleep on their back, as in this position the tongue collapse and block the airways, which can be dangerous and worsens sleep apnea and creates those beautiful snoring sounds.
Sleeping on your side is the most common and beneficial sleeping position - but this is dependent on which side you sleep on (the left side is better). By sleeping on your left side, you boost your digestion, stimulate the drainage of toxins, alleviates acid reflux and heartburn and helps your brain filter out any waste. It is also very good for circulation in your body. Due to the positioning of the organs inside the body, you will only benefit from these by sleeping on your left side.
Sleeping on your side also means your airways are left open, allowing your neck and head to stay aligned. This in turns prevents the snoring horrors and prevents sleep apnea for the sufferers. Sleeping on your side is actually the first treatment recommended to people suffering from snoring, sleep apnea and chronic back pain.
Make bedtimes easier on yourself, if you’re pregnant and expecting a little one. Pregnant women should sleep on their left side, as it keeps their uterus from pressing against their liver on the right, while facilitating blood circulation to their uterus.
Although sleeping on the left side is the best side to sleep on, it is good to switch it up throughout the night to avoid pain to the left side of your body. When putting too much pressure on one side, you could end up experiencing arm numbness from resting on that one arm for too long, as well as a lot of shoulder pain. If you suffer from shoulder pain, you should avoid sleeping on your side altogether.
Another downside for the ladies is, sleeping on your side cause your breasts to lean to one side and droop - leading to breast sag. No one wants saggy breasts, so it’s good to switch up the sleeping positions throughout the night.
Sleeping on your stomach is the worst position to sleep in, as this creates actual havoc for your body. By sleeping on your stomach, it means your core sinks deeper into the mattress, leaving your limbs and head higher on the surface and causing neck and back pain, as well as spinal misalignment. It flattens the natural curve of your spine which can lead to lower back pain - you can make this a little better by putting a pillow under your hips and lower abdomen to give the bottom of the spine a little lift.
There is also more intensity on the pressure on your joints, muscles and organs making you toss and turn throughout the night until you are in a comfortable position. Sleeping on your stomach also leads to neck pain as your head is turned from side to side, or in one position, throughout the night.
The one good thing about stomach sleeping is, you won’t be snoring throughout the night or getting sleep apnea.
How do I know which position is right for me?
There is no right or wrong in the sleeping position you choose or feel comfiest in, but if you are looking to make some sleep changes, then having the right mattress and pillow is definitely a massive factor that affects the position you sleep in.
Back sleepers usually require a a medium firm mattress, as a mattress that is too soft will allow the back and pelvis to float deeper into the mattress, while a mattress which is too firm can cause a gap between the small of the back and the lower spine against the mattress surface, which will in turn cause massive back pain.
Back sleepers should also make sure they have the correct pillow, which will support and align your head, neck and spine. A pillow not too high or too low would be ideal, as well as placing a pillow beneath your knees to relieve the strain on your back.
Side sleepers usually require a soft to medium firm mattress that allows their hips and shoulders to float deeply enough into the mattress to keep their head, neck and spine aligned. Mattresses with a memory foam top layer are great for this, as they contour and hug the body.
Side sleepers need a pillow which supports the head and neck and allows it to stay aligned with the spine. A pillow too high can cause a lot of discomfort for the neck. You can also place another pillow between your knees to make your hips feel more comfortable throughout the night.
Stomach sleepers usually require a medium to slightly firmer mattress, to keep the spine in a neutral position. A mattress on the firmer side prevents the pelvic area from sinking too far down and arching your back. Memory foam and hybrid mattresses are usually best for this, providing enough give while supporting the body.
Stomach sleepers should get a thinner, softer pillow so their head is not too high up in comparison to their neck and spine. However, the pillow should be high enough for you to comfortably breathe. You could also put a pillow beneath your hips to elevate your spine back to a neutral position.
This kind of information helped us in creating SleepFit. Considering all the different positions and needs of different people have throughout the night, it was important for us to create a system which helped people sleep better and more comfortably without having to change their sleeping habits. This is why we ask for your (and your partners) most common sleeping position on SleepFit to establish the amount of pressure you apply in various positions, to determine the correct mattress and pillow for you.