Many people who find themselves only able to fall asleep while lying on their front might be asking themselves: is it bad to sleep on your stomach? While stomach sleeping can be rather comfortable to some, it’s one of the most unpopular sleeping positions and with a good reason. According to experts, sleeping on your stomach every night can lead to a series of health issues, including back and shoulder pain. 

If you’re usually a stomach sleeper, this article can help you understand why this position might not be beneficial for your spinal alignment, and what you can do to ease the strain on your back while sleeping on your front. 

Is it Bad to Sleep on Your Stomach? 

So, is it bad to sleep on your stomach? The shortest answer is – yes. While there are some benefits to this sleeping position such as reduced snoring, sleeping on your stomach strains your back and neck. This can inevitably lead to shoulder, neck and back pain, poor sleep and morning aches. You should also avoid sleeping on your stomach if you’re pregnant. 

Why Shouldn’t You Sleep on Your Stomach? 

If you have ever had the experience of waking up with pain in your shoulder or neck, you might be inclined to think it’s due to an injury or health issue. However, oftentimes it can be due to your sleeping position. Particularly if you sleep on your stomach. Here are some of the reasons, why you should consider not sleeping on your front if you can help it: 

May Lead to Spinal Misalignment

Stomach sleeping causes your torso to naturally sink into the mattress due to its weight. As a result of that your back takes an arched position, stretching your spine. This misaligned position puts stress and strain on your spine, which in the long run is likely to lead to aches and pains in your back. 

Can Cause Neck or Shoulder Pain

This sleeping position can also increase the risk of pain in your neck and shoulders. In order to breathe while sleeping on your front, you have to turn your head to one side. This requires you to twist your neck which moves it out of its natural alignment with the spine. The strain on your neck while sleeping in this position can lead to aches in that area upon waking. As a result of that you can experience additional complications including headaches and pain in your shoulders all the way down your arms. 

Increases Risk of Wrinkles and Breakouts

One side of your face being pressed into the pillow all night may stretch and pull your skin. This as a result can be a contributing factor to facial wrinkles. In addition bacteria from your pillow and bedsheets can more easily get onto your skin leading to spots and even acne breakouts. 

What is the Healthiest Sleeping Position? 

The healthiest sleeping position is one that supports proper spinal alignment throughout the night. According to research, stomach sleeping is the worst position when it comes to back support. Sleeping on your side or back offers a better spinal alignment and can be beneficial if you’re experiencing back pain. 

Back sleeping can help with discomfort and aches in your back and neck. This sleeping position promotes the nest spinal alignment. It also prevents the risk of wrinkles and acne. On the negative side, however, sleeping on your back can increase the risk of sleep apnea or snoring.

If those are particular concerns for you, side sleeping can provide a better alternative. Side sleeping can help alleviate the pressure on your spine and offer good support, while also relieving snoring and sleep apnea. 

How to Avoid Back Pain When Sleeping on Your Stomach? 

If it’s impossible for you to get comfortable in any other position, despite making an effort, then here are some tips you can try to minimise the negative effects of stomach sleeping: 

Consider a Firmer Mattress

Stomach sleepers can greatly benefit from a mattress that’s on the firmer side. A medium to firm mattress can provide relief for major pressure points in your body such as your lower back, so you can sleep on your front without having to worry about potential pain in your back or neck.  If you’re looking to switch to a firm mattress you can browse our options here

Go for Thin Pillows

Sleeping with a very thin pillow or no pillow at all can help with pressure in your neck and shoulders. The thicker your pillow the more strain is put on your neck, because the pillow forces your head to angle upwards. When you sleep with no pillow at all your neck is more likely to remain in line with your spine. 

To further improve your spinal alignment while sleeping on your front you can try placing a thin pillow underneath your pelvis, between your mid-thigh and lower stomach. This can stop your midsection from sinking into the mattress taking off additional pressure from your spine. 

Stretch in the Morning

Finally, gentle morning stretches can help realign your spine. In addition, a bit of movement in the morning can help shake off the sleep and energise you for the day.