Stomach Sleeper: Good or Bad?

Stomach Sleeper: Good or Bad?

Written by Nectarsleep editorial team

Last Updated on Aug 22, 2022

In this article:

    Are you a stomach sleeper? If yes, you are among that 7% of people who sleep on their stomachs. Stomach sleeping, also known as prone position, can be described as when a person sleeps flat on their chest. The limited advantages experienced by a stomach sleeper are reduced snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Stomach sleeping is one of the most unhealthy sleeping positions. But a few ways will throw light on how to sleep on your stomach correctly.

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    3 Stomach Sleeping Positions

    It may sound interesting that there are quite some variations of stomach sleeping positions. Tummy sleepers like switching their sleeping positions from freefall to a running man, then waking up in a skydiver position. 

    The Freefall Position

    If you notice someone sleeping with their heads placed to their sides and hands wrapped in the pillow, understand that it is a freefall position. Though this position is not completely bad, it can be excelled. Simply place a very thin pillow or completely omit the pillow. This will prevent your neck from getting too curved up, thus alleviating your spine and neck. 

    The Running Man Position

    When you notice a stomach sleeper sleeping with one arm to their side and the other arm and leg up in a running position, that is what is a running man position. To elevate this stomach sleeping position to relieve your back and neck, ensure that your hips and legs are straightened all the time. Follow it up by placing a pillow under your forehead and placing your head face-down. No matter how uneasy this belly sleeping position sounds, it might be better for a stomach sleeper. 

    The Skydiver Position

    If you are a stomach sleeper and notice yourself sleeping with one leg up and both arms up by your head, it is a skydiver position. You can upgrade this position by keeping your leg down all the time and placing a thin pillow under the pelvis. These modifications will help level your spine in a neutral position and avert it from getting twisted.

    What Happens When You Sleep on Your Stomach?

    It might happen that you often wake up with a sore body. The reason might be chronic pain or a similar health issue, or it can result from belly sleeping. The question follows this, is sleeping on your stomach bad? Let us find that out in the following section. 

    • You Might Misalign Your Spine

    A healthy sleeping posture helps with spine alignment. A stomach sleeper mostly experiences spine misalignment since their torso sinks into the mattress because of the weight - making this sleeping position a misfit. This is followed by arching of the back, making the spine stretch out of its natural alignment.  Eventually, when the spine is misaligned, it might lead to back strain, aches, and additional issues upon waking. 

    • You Might Experience Back, Neck, or Shoulder Pain

    Knowing how to stop sleeping on your stomach might help you relieve the back, neck, and shoulder pain you’ve been experiencing for quite some time. A stomach sleeper generally turns their head on one side for breathing while they sleep. Now, this turn will twist your neck, further misaligning your spine.

    Furthermore, a wrong sleep posture can additionally count to headaches and shoulder or arm pain. 

    • You Might Notice More Facial Wrinkles

    A stomach sleeper might experience more facial wrinkles than a side or back sleeper. The reason is quite obvious, when you are sleeping with one side of your face smashed into the pillow, it stretches, tugs, and squeezes the skin throughout the night.

    Is Sleeping on Your Stomach Bad?: Pros and Cons

    Is sleeping on your stomach bad? Let us find that out by studying the pros and cons.

    ProsCons
    It helps alleviate sleep apnea symptomsMight cause neck pain
    It might reduce snoringIt might cause back strain
    Might help control acid refluxMight cause stiffness
    -Might cause wrinkles

    Unfortunately, the cons outweigh the pros, and therefore, it can be stated that sleeping on the stomach is bad for health. From the list of cons, it can be understood that a stomach sleeper might be a victim of back, neck, or shoulder pain. Therefore, learning how to not sleep on your stomach needs to be quick.

    How to Properly Sleep on Your Stomach

    It might not be possible for a stomach sleeper to give up their sleeping position completely. The following alterations might help those people sleep better on their stomachs.

    • Use a Thin Pillow

    A stomach sleeper’s best way to sleep on the stomach would be either on a thin pillow or no pillow at all. When a pillow is placed, your neck will be less angled, preventing any back or neck pain. All in all, the closer your neck will be to the mattress, the lower the strain will be.

    • Stretch Daily

    One relieving way to sleep on your stomach is stretching for 10 to 20 minutes before sleeping and post waking up. Practicing yoga, especially exercises focused on the pelvis and neck area might be comforting to your body. The child’s pose is one recommended exercise for back and neck pain. 

    • Place a Pillow Under your Pelvis

    A stomach sleeper might relieve their back strain and also help with spine alignment by placing a pillow underneath their pelvis for proper positioning.

    • Keep your Legs Flat

    Often considered the best way to sleep on the stomach, a stomach sleeper needs to let their legs stay flat. Wrapping the leg on a pillow or placing one leg over the other might exacerbate the back strain or twist your spine. Try to keep your legs as balanced as possible.

    • Keep your Body as Aligned as Possible 

    Right before dozing off, try calming your body in a neutral position. By this means, you need to keep your arms to the side, keep your lumbar spine and hips straight, and ensure that the spine is not curved or twisted.

    Can You Sleep on Your Stomach While Pregnant?

    Doctors recommend not sleeping on the stomach while pregnant even during the first trimester. They advise not to put more pressure on the tummy than what is necessary. Your baby needs to move around freely, and your back also needs proper rest throughout the period. Side sleeping is the best position for pregnant women.

    How to Stop Sleeping on Your Stomach

    Are there any ways to stop being a stomach sleeper? Yes, there are. The following are the ways listed:

    • Shift your Position When Possible

    Though it can be pretty hard to fall asleep in another sleeping position - say side or back, start practicing it. If you find yourself stomach sleeping in the middle of the night, flip to another position. Slowly you will find yourself embracing some other sleeping position.

    • Use a Body Pillow

    A stomach sleeper generally prefers keeping their whole body glued to the mattress. When starting to adapt to side sleeping, try using a body pillow. This will significantly avert the tendency to switch to stomach sleeping and provide a peaceful sleep.

    • Sleep On a Memory Foam Pillow

    If you are a stomach sleeper, consider spending money on a memory foam pillow. The contours of the memory foam pillow will sustain the neck and balance the natural curves. 

    Shifting from a stomach sleeper to a side sleeper or back sleeper can be challenging but not impossible. Since it has already been noticed that a stomach sleeper experiences more disadvantages than benefits, the process of shifting needs to be started soon. Slowly and steadily, you will win the game.

    This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.
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