Don’t Sleep on Your Stomach

Sleeping position is a matter of personal preference.  It seems like everyone has a way they can fall asleep quicker and more comfortably.  However, there is one position that’s not as healthy as others.

Sleeping on your stomach can cause a variety of problems, both short term and long term.  In fact, many stomach sleepers suffer from back, neck, and joint pain, and they may not even know why.   The reason is that sleeping on the stomach puts a lot of strain on the back and spine, because that’s where most of the body’s weight is.  The health website Healthline writes:

Stress on the spine increases stress on the rest of your structure. Additionally, since the spine is a pipeline for your nerves, spinal stress can cause pain just about anywhere in your body. You can also experience tingling and numbness, as if parts of you have “fallen asleep” (while the rest of you is uncomfortable and wide awake).

The other issue with sleeping on your stomach is where to put your neck.  It’s obviously not comfortable to sleep with your face straight down on a pillow, so in order to breathe you have to twist your neck to get your face is to the side.  For many people, just one night of sleeping like this can lead to neck pain for a day or two.

But, what if you’re the type of person who simply can’t sleep any other way?  Here’s what the Mayo Clinic suggests:

If you can’t sleep any other way, reduce the strain on your back by placing a pillow under your pelvis and lower abdomen. Use a pillow under your head if it doesn’t place too much strain on your back. If it does cause strain, try sleeping without a pillow under your head.

The best long term solution is to try to change your favorite sleeping position.  Try to force yourself to sleep another way for several nights, and you may find that you get used to it.  It may mean a few nights of less-than-optimal sleep, but if it saves your back and neck, it might be worth it.