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Are You A Stomach Sleeper? Here's Why The Position May Be Harmful

Blog Sleep & Wellness
Are You A Stomach Sleeper? Here's Why The Position May Be Harmful

When it comes to sleep, we all have a preference for how we do it. There are back, side, and stomach sleepers, and each position comes with its own set of pros and cons. However, if you’re a stomach sleeper who likes to sprawl out on your bed like a starfish, then you might want to brace yourself because the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.

Sleeping on your stomach isn’t the most popular sleeping position; only 16% of adults say they sleep this way. But even though flopping down on your belly might be the most comfortable position for you, the unfortunate reality is that it’s also considered the most unhealthy.

Let’s dive deeper to understand the pros and cons of sleeping on your stomach and tips for switching up your sleeping style.

Pros and Cons of Sleeping on Your Stomach

Pros and Cons of Sleeping on Your Stomach

Let’s get the good news out of the way first. The advantages of being a stomach sleeper may not be extensive, but your favorite sleeping position has some merit.

The main benefits of sleeping on your stomach are that it might prevent snoring and reduce the milder effects of sleep apnea because it can help keep the airways open.

But beyond that, sleeping on your stomach is mostly bad for you. Here are some of the risks associated with being a stomach sleeper.

Strains Your Spine and Back

For stomach sleepers, aches and pains might be a common complaint. Sleeping on your stomach can aggravate joint and neck pain, but the sleeping position also places a significant strain on your spine and back.

This is because sleeping on your stomach makes it challenging to maintain a neutral spine position. Because your spine is forced out of its natural alignment, you’re more likely to experience lower back pain and stiffness.

Aggravates Neck Pain

Here’s the thing about stomach sleeping: You can’t smush your face into the pillow and expect to breathe easily.

When you sleep on your stomach, you’re forced to turn your head to one side, which twists your neck. If you’re not a regular stomach sleeper, this won’t pose much of an issue. But if lying on your stomach is your go-to sleeping position, you might develop neck problems down the road.

Sleeping on your stomach not only twists your neck but also your spine, which can lead to a herniated disc. If this happens, you may experience a sharp pain in your shoulders and arm, which may require medical attention.

Causes Wrinkles and Breakouts

It’s not just lack of sleep that affects your skin; your sleeping position matters, too. Though it might be unexpected, stomach sleepers are more prone to developing premature wrinkles because their faces are pressed into the pillow. This puts excessive pressure on your face, exacerbating wrinkles and fine lines.

Sleeping facedown on the pillow can also clog your pores and cause breakouts, especially if you don’t wash your sheets often enough.

Triggers Pains During Pregnancy

Sleeping on your stomach is hands down the worst position if you’re pregnant. As your baby bump grows, you’ll notice that it becomes difficult to sleep on your stomach, but you should try to avoid this sleeping position even early on in your pregnancy.

As your body undergoes various changes, you’re likely to experience back pain, and sleeping on your stomach can aggravate that pain.

How to Sleep on Your Stomach Safely

How to Sleep on Your Stomach Safely

If you’ve been a stomach sleeper all your life, you might find it challenging to switch to a different sleeping position and get a good night’s sleep. To minimize the risks associated with sleeping on your stomach, try following these tips:

  • Use a thin stomach sleeper pillow. If your pillow is flat, your neck will be in a less angled position. Instead of a thin pillow, you could also try sleeping without one to prevent straining your neck.
  • Stretch often. Try to stretch first thing in the mornings and before you go to bed. The child’s pose is a great yoga move for stomach sleepers because it can help realign your body and strengthen your muscles.
  • Maintain a neutral position before you fall asleep. Try to focus on aligning your body and maintaining a neutral position before bed. Ensure that your back is straight and your spine is not twisted.
  • Keep a pillow under your pelvis. Placing a pillow under your pelvis can reduce the strain on your back and help you sleep more comfortably.

How to Stop Sleeping on Your Stomach

How to Stop Sleeping on Your Stomach

Avid stomach sleepers are going to have a tough time quitting cold turkey. But since this position can strain your back and neck, it’s important to switch to a healthier sleeping style to ensure a good night’s sleep. Try the tips below to stop sleeping on your stomach.

  • Switch up your sleeping position. Try to fall asleep on your back or side to minimize your chances of rolling over onto your stomach in the middle of the night. If you do end up sleeping on your stomach at some point, switch to your side or back whenever you realize you’ve changed positions. You won’t be able to break the habit of sleeping on your stomach overnight, but over time, you might find yourself adapting to a different position.
  • Try a body pillow. A body pillow can help you transition to sleeping on your side. The right body pillow will be able to cradle your head, neck, shoulders, hips, and back to help you doze comfortably all night. Not only that, but the body pillow can prevent you from rolling over on your stomach accidentally.
  • Invest in an adjustable bed frame. An adjustable base offers multiple comfort levels and is designed to alleviate back pain. Adjustable bed frames allow you to customize your sleeping position so that you can minimize strain on your spine and sleep comfortably.

Which is the Best Sleeping Position?

Best Sleeping Position

Sleeping on your side or back has more advantages than sleeping on your stomach. Side sleeping, in particular, is one of the most popular positions with many benefits. Sleeping on your side can open up airways for ease of breathing and potentially reduce pressure on your lower back. Additionally, sleeping on your left side is considered optimal for blood flow, making it the ideal position for pregnant women.

If you’re not prone to snoring, sleeping on your back is a good position because it distributes weight evenly. Unlike side sleeping, an added benefit of sleeping on your back is that it promotes circulation, which means you won’t wake up in the middle of the night with a sore or tingly arm.


Ultimately, the best sleeping position is a matter of preference. If you wake up well-rested without any aches or pains, then that’s a sign that your sleeping position is working for you, regardless of whether you’re a side, back or stomach sleeper. But if you find it challenging to get comfortable or experience any pains when you wake up, then you might want to consider switching up your sleeping style.

The best way to ensure you get a good night’s rest, regardless of how you sleep, is to invest in a mattress that adapts to all sleeping positions. A hybrid mattress is the best mattress choice for all types of sleepers because it combines the stability of a traditional innerspring mattress with the contouring comfort of memory foam.

With the right sleep set up in place, you’re bound to wake up refreshed every morning, no matter your preferred sleeping style.

Your Turn...

Are You A Stomach Sleeper? Share your thoughts in the comments. 

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Disclaimer. We love sleep and we want you to get the best sleep possible. But we do not provide medical advice. This blog is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical info, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our blog.

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