How To Sleep On Your Stomach
written by sleep expert Lauren Hall
How To Sleep On Your Stomach:
If you’re one of the 16% of the population of stomach sleepers in the world, then you’ll know the struggle of getting comfortable with this sleeping position. While there are a few benefits that come with stomach sleeping, such as reducing snoring and sleep apnea, it is not recommended by many.
Sleeping on your side can cause neck and shoulder pain while sleeping on your back; it can increase symptoms of sleep apnea, snoring, and acid reflux. But these positions are healthier and deliver much better sleep quality as side sleeping is recommended for pregnant women to help promote blood flow.
But is it bad to sleep on your stomach?
In some ways, yes, it puts your spine in compromised positions, so your muscles work overtime to try and keep it aligned. This prevents your muscles from relaxing and puts strain on your pressure points which causes you to wake up with more aches and pains than in other sleeping positions.
But side and back sleeping isn’t for everyone; for some of us, there is nothing better than sprawling out on your stomach across your mattress. But if you do love to sleep on your stomach, then I have a few tips for you to help ease aches and pains and help keep your spine as neutral (as possible).
Is there a way to safely sleep on your stomach?
For many stomach sleepers who don’t want to switch to side or back sleeping, there are a few ways you can support your body to make it not only more comfortable but less likely to cause neck and back pain when you wake up in the morning.
So stay tuned; you won’t want to miss this.
Why Is Sleeping On Your Stomach Bad?
Believe it or not, as a stomach sleeper, your sleep position may have major impacts on your health in the long term; sleeping on your stomach is the most natural position as pressure is being placed on your spine, you can risk years of chronic pain from sleeping on your stomach.
But here are the drawbacks of the stomach sleeping position.
Puts Pressure On Your Neck & Spine
Sleeping on your stomach puts pressure on both your neck and back; most of your weight is in the middle of your body, so it puts your spine in an unnatural position which can cut off blood flow to certain parts of your body– this can cause pins and needles from this sleeping posture.
In order to breathe, you need to keep your head turned, which moves your neck to the side, putting your spine in a compromised position. This can lead to shooting pains all throughout your body and even cause long-lasting back and neck pain.
It can also be quite uncomfortable to sleep on your stomach, making it harder to achieve restful sleep and to sleep comfortably. This can cause you to toss and turn in your sleep, which can lead to sleep deprivation which has significant effects on your health.
This pain can also carry into the day too; you could even get a herniated disc in your neck, which is super painful.
Not Recommended For Pregnant Women:
This is pretty obvious that you shouldn’t sleep on your stomach during pregnancy; this is also the case for women during early pregnancy. Pregnancy adds weight to the middle of your body, making it more likely that your spine can get damaged, making it not the best sleep position.
This position can also put pressure on the baby too which can lead to development issues. The best way for pregnant women to sleep is on their left side as it increases blood flow, and these sleep postures can help take pressure off your liver as well as reduce heartburn and promote comfortable sleeping.
When Should I Stop Sleeping On My Stomach During Pregnancy?
Generally, sleeping on your stomach isn’t too bad up until your belly starts growing around 16-18 weeks but still not recommended as it puts pressure on the baby– which is not what we want when newly pregnant. Once your bump starts to show, stomach sleeping can be very uncomfortable.
Avoiding sleeping on your stomach while pregnant is best, not only because of the discomfort but sleeping on your stomach can be dangerous for your baby. Instead, try to train yourself to sleep in the fetal position; it takes the pressure off your back, promotes blood flow, and helps keep airways open.
All in all, there are some serious long-term effects for a stomach sleeper, so if you can switch, then I would highly recommend it, but if not, here are some tips of how to properly fall asleep on your stomach with minimal damage and spinal misalignment.
How To Sleep Properly On Your Stomach:
Knowing how to comfortably sleep on your stomach without back pain and neck pain can be quite a challenge. Knowing how to safely sleep on your stomach is crucial to preventing lifelong damage from sleeping on your stomach. So here are some tips for all stomach sleepers out there.
Use The Right Pillow:
When stomach sleeping, you need to consider how this position is impacting your spine and neck as well as the natural curve of your body; sleeping on your stomach can cause your spine to twist and turn, causing it to become misaligned, which can lead to back pain in the morning.
This paired with your head twisted in order to breathe, can also cause neck ache too.
If you’re using a pillow that has too high of a loft, your neck will be elevated above the rest of your body which can put your spine in all kinds of compromised positions that further cause problems. This is the main reason why stomach sleepers are not recommended to use a pillow, and if they do, it has to be super thin.
You’ll want to keep your body straight and aligned, so using a thin, soft, flat pillow or no pillow at all will help keep your spine aligned and prevent you from putting your neck in awkward positions. Another option is to sleep with your head facing down and put your forehead on the pillow instead of your entire head.
This can help open up your airways and keep your head elevated enough, so you don’t need to turn it. It may feel odd and wrong at first, but there are far more benefits on relieving neck and back pain for stomach sleepers by sleeping this way, so it’s worth a shot!
Pop A Pillow Under Your Hips:
When sleeping on your stomach, you should then place a pillow underneath your hips to help even out your spine and relieve pressure. You’ll notice that your hips tend to sink into the mattress (especially if it’s made with memory foam or if it is on the softer side). This throws off your spinal alignment and pops strain on your lower back.
Placing a pillow under your hips can help promote the natural curve of your spine and help promote neutral spinal alignment.
A firm mattress is recommended for stomach sleepers to keep your spine aligned and prevent you from sinking into the mattress, as this can put your spine in a compromised position. Memory foam is not recommended for stomach sleepers unless it is very firm as it causes your body to sink.
This puts your body in even more uncompromised positions, while memory foam is brilliant for offering pain relief and more restful sleep for the back and side body position; for side sleepers, it causes your hips to sink, which can cause more pain than good.
The best mattress for stomach sleepers has to be an innerspring mattress or firm hybrid mattress if you still want memory foam but want more of a responsive, firm feel is recommended for stomach sleepers.
Stretching regularly during the day can help improve your stomach sleeping position, waking up and stretching in the morning can help you deal with any discomfort and pain and help relieve pressure points and muscles that have gone a bit stiff in the night.
The best stretch to help relieve aches and pains in the morning is to sit with your shins on the floor, and your toes pointed forward, push your pelvis downward and reach forward. This will help stretch out both sides of your back and help relieve and pains throughout your back.
Neck rolling is also advised for stomach sleepers, so sit up and roll your neck in a circle. This will help loosen any knots which have formed by twisting your neck in the night. It can also help ease stiffness in your shoulders, spine, and neck throughout the day. It is recommended to do this during the day.
How To Stop Sleeping On Your Stomach:
It can be quite a challenge to switch sleeping positions, but sleeping on the stomach is not the best sleeping position. But with some practice and the best pillow to support you and your body, it is possible. I would recommend investing in a full-body pillow to offer support, especially if you’re pregnant.
For stomach sleepers, the best way to begin training yourself to sleep on your side or back is to sleep on a sofa, sleeping on your left or right side, or even in the fetal position. This should help your body get used to sleeping in this position, and then you can transition to the bed with pillows behind and in front of you.
This is where your full body pillow will come in handy as it will support your side, back and legs while sleeping on your side. By hugging the pillow while you sleep, you can replicate the sensation of sleeping on your stomach, but instead, you’re sleeping on your side.
In some extreme cases, some people use a ball next to their side, which creates an uncomfortable feeling whenever you go to roll onto your stomach. You can use a tennis ball in a pocket so it will poke you when you try to move onto your stomach.
With some time and practice, you can easily switch from sleeping on your stomach to on your side or back. Finding the right mattress will also help; I would recommend a memory foam mattress for sleeping on your side or back. Your back, neck, and hips will thank you for this.
So if, after reading this guide, you’re definitely considering making the change from sleeping on your stomach to sleeping on your side or back, then hats off to you. I have broken down a full guide of how to sleep on your side to help make your transition a breeze.
Learning how to properly sleep on your stomach or switching to another sleep option can really help you achieve a better night’s rest as well as relieve back, neck, or hip pain so you can catch some serious Zzz’s easily.
Time to make the switch today!
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