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September 22, 2021 10 min read

Sleeping Comfortably: The Best Sleeping Positions for a Restful Night 

A good night's sleep is important to our overall health and well-being, but sometimes, factors out of our control can impact our sleep quality. Chronic health issues, pain, and sleep disorders are some of the top causes of poor sleep. So what can be done? Finding the best way to sleep is a great place to start. 

Whether you like to sleep on your side or back, the best sleeping position will find ways to support your spine and ease pain and discomfort. Read on to learn more about the healthiest sleeping positions (and one you should avoid).

Factors Affecting Sleep Quality and Comfort 

According to recent research, pain is one of the top reasons forpoor sleep quality. Getting a good night's sleep is hard if you constantly wake up in discomfort from physical issues like back, neck, and shoulder pain. 

Sleep disorders are another common factor, affecting between50 to 70 million U.S. adults. One of the most common sleep disorders issleep apnea, which blocks your airway so your breathing becomes shallow or stops altogether. People with sleep apnea commonly experience poor sleep quality since they often wake up through the night choking and gasping for air. 


The right sleep solutions, however, can help you get better rest by aligning and supporting your spine, minimizing pressure on your joints and muscles, and reducing sleep apnea symptoms. The type you need will depend on your sleeping position and style.

What Is the Best Sleeping Position?

Achieving a restful night's sleep hinges on maintaining a harmonious spinal alignment, spanning from your hips to your head. The optimal sleeping position for you is intricately tied to your unique health profile and comfort preferences.

However, it's worth noting that certain sleeping positions are universally recognized for their health benefits. Specifically, side and back sleeping are often lauded over stomach sleeping. These positions effortlessly support and balance the spine, alleviating pressure and allowing your muscles to rejuvenate.

Diverse sleeping positions offer varied advantages, especially if you're grappling with back discomfort or specific health challenges. Exploring a new sleeping position might be the key to unlocking more restorative sleep. For instance, a study revealed that adults with back pain, upon being trained to sleep either on their back or side, witnessed remarkable pain alleviation within a mere four weeks.

Transitioning to a novel sleeping position requires patience. However, if you find solace in stomach sleeping, there's no need to overhaul your habits. With the right mattress and pillow, you can optimize spinal alignment and mitigate potential pain risks.

 

Sleeping on Your Back

Lying on your back is a favorite for many sleepers. When you're flat on your back, your spine stays straight, and your body weight spreads out evenly. This can mean fewer morning aches in your neck or back. Got a stuffy nose? Sleeping on your back, especially if you prop yourself up a bit, can help you breathe easier.

And guess what? Your skin might thank you too. Since you're looking up at the ceiling, there's no pillow squishing against your face, which could mean fewer wrinkles. Back sleeping can be especially good for:

  • Folks with lower back pain
  • Those trying to avoid wrinkles
  • People with neck aches
  • Anyone with a stuffy nose

 

Best Sleeping Position for Neck Pain

If your neck hurts, sleeping on your back is a top pick. It keeps your neck straight. For extra comfort, use a pillow that cradles your neck but lets your head sink in a bit. Memory foam pillows or ones with a special spot for your head work well. Or, you can roll a towel under your neck and use a flatter pillow for your head. And remember, keep your arms in the same position, like both by your sides.

Best Sleeping Position for Stuffy Nose

Dealing with a stuffy nose? Prop up your upper back with pillows. This helps you breathe better and might even clear up your nose. Just make sure your back stays straight.

Is Back Sleeping Always a Good Idea?

While many love sleeping on their back, it's not the best choice for:

  • Expecting moms
  • Snorers or those with sleep apnea
  • Some with back pain
  • People with acid reflux
  • Heavier adults
  • Older folks

Why? Well, back sleeping can make snoring or sleep apnea worse. The airway can get blocked more easily. As we get older or put on weight, lying on our backs can make it harder to breathe.

Also, some find that back sleeping makes their back hurt more. If there's a gap between your lower back and the mattress, it can be uncomfortable. A simple fix? Put a thin pillow there or under your knees. This supports your spine's natural curve. And if you're pregnant, back sleeping might put too much pressure on your heart.

 

Sleeping on Your Side

For those with back problems and sleep disorders, side sleeping comes with a lot of benefits. This often healthy sleep position promotes spinal alignment and is the least likely to cause back pain, especially with support pillows. Sleeping on your side may also be the best way to sleep for: 

  • Pregnant sleepers
  • People with acid reflux
  • People who snore 
  • People with sleep apnea
  • Senior sleepers 

When sleeping on your side, place a pillow between your lower legs to align your hips and prevent lower back pain, or invest in a pillow with a symmetrical design for side sleepers. 

While sleepers with shoulder problems often have trouble sleeping on their side, specialized pillows, likeMedCline’s sleep solutions, offer an innovative design to remove shoulder pressure. 

 

Best Sleeping Position for Pregnancy

For expecting moms, experts suggest sleeping on the side with knees slightly bent. This position makes room for the growing baby bump and helps the heart work better. Sleeping on the left side is a top pick because it's easier on the liver and ensures good blood flow to the baby and other organs.

If the left side feels a bit uncomfortable, it's okay to switch to the right side sometimes. This can give your left hip a break. To make things cozier, try using pillows under the belly, between the legs, and near the lower back.

 

Best Sleeping Position for Back Pain

If your back hurts, the best sleep position is on your side with a pillow or folded blanket between your knees. This position can also help if your neck hurts.

Pick a pillow that's as thick as the gap between your neck and shoulder. This way, when you sleep on your side, your neck lines up with your spine. This keeps things straight and comfy, avoiding any morning aches.

 

Is Side Sleeping Always a Good Idea?

Sleeping on your side might not be the best choice for everyone. If you have shoulder pain or if you're trying to avoid wrinkles, you might want to think twice.

When you sleep on your side, your shoulder can get sore or feel tight. To avoid this, it's a good idea to change positions now and then. Also, make sure you have the right pillow and mattress. Your mattress should be soft enough so your hips and shoulders can sink in a bit more than the middle of your back.

You can improve your side sleeping by using aMedCline Shoulder Relief System that uses a patented arm pocket for left- or right-side sleeping. So you don’t have to worry about shoulder pain while sleeping on your side.

Another thing to consider is that side sleeping can lead to wrinkles. Why? Because your face is squished against the pillow, which can stretch and squeeze your skin.

 

Which Side is the Best to Sleep On?

If you're a side sleeper, you might wonder if one side is better than the other. Well, the left side gets the thumbs up! Sleeping on the right side can put more pressure on your insides. That's why experts often suggest the left side for expecting moms and folks with acid reflux or GERD. Plus, if you sleep on the right, heartburn might bug you more.

If you experience heartburn while sleeping or when you first wake up, you may want to consider anAcid Reflux Relief System that is specifically designed to offer relief from painful, nighttime acid reflux.

To wake up feeling great, aim for a balanced sleep position. This means keeping your spine straight from your hips to your head. Pillows can be your best buddies here. Use them on both sides of you to stay in place. And, tuck a small one between your knees to keep your hips comfy.

 

Sleeping in a Fetal Position 

The fetal position involves sleeping on your side but with your legs curled toward your body. This sleeping position is ideal for lower back pain, pregnancy, and snoring. However, sleeping with your body tucked too tightly could restrict deep breathing while you sleep and leave you feeling stiff and sore in the morning. 

To make sleeping in a fetal position more comfortable, keep your body loose and relaxed with your legs relatively extended. Placing a pillow between your knees can add more spinal support.

 

Sleeping Positions to Avoid 

Sleeping on Your Stomach 

Not many people choose to sleep on their stomachs. In fact, studies show that less than 10% of us do. But, guess what? It can help some folks stop snoring by keeping the airway open. The downside? Breathing can be a bit harder because your ribs have to push against gravity. This might make you feel more tired when you wake up.

 

 What’s Wrong With Stomach Sleeping?

Sleeping on your belly isn't for everyone. Here's who might want to think twice:

  • Moms-to-be
  • Anyone with a sore neck or back
  • Those trying to avoid wrinkles

Why? Well, when you sleep on your belly, your back doesn't get much support. This can make your spine feel all out of whack when you wake up. Plus, you have to turn your head to one side, which can twist your neck. If your bed is too soft, your belly and hips might sink in, stretching your back in a way that doesn't feel good. Over time, this can be tough on your spine. And, if you're worried about getting wrinkles, pressing your face into your pillow might not help.

 

Tips for Stomach Sleeping

The right pillow and mattress can make all the difference when you're a stomach sleeper. Without them, you might wake up with some aches. But don't worry! If you love sleeping on your belly, there are ways to do it comfortably.

 

First, think about your pillow. A super thin one, or even none at all, can help. This keeps your neck straight and avoids any weird bends. For added comfort, slide a thin pillow under your hips. This trick can help keep your back feeling just right. And don't forget about your mattress! A firm one can help keep your spine in its happy place, even when you're on your stomach.

 

Additional Tips for a Restful Night's Sleep 

Along with finding the best sleeping position for your particular needs, there are other ways to get a good night’s sleep. Here are a few simple ideas. 

  • Ensure a comfortable sleep environment - Set up your bedroom in a way where you can get the best sleep possible. Hang up blackout curtains, use earplugs or run a noise machine, and invest in a quality mattress and bedding.
  • Maintain a consistent sleep schedule - Keeping a regular sleep-wake routine helps support your circadian rhythm, which is the cycle your internal clock sets to get up and fall asleep daily.
  • Implement a relaxing bedtime routine - Replace scrolling on your electronics before bed with low-key activities that help you unwind. Try reading, stretching, meditating, or listening to calming music to cultivate a relaxed mind.
  • Address underlying sleep disorders or medical issues - Discuss different natural and medical treatments with your doctor if your chronic health issues and sleep disorders are affecting the quality of your sleep.


Final Thoughts on the Best Ways to Sleep

The healthiest sleeping position is one that aligns your spine. With the proper support, your sleeping position can include sleeping on your side, on your back, or in a fetal position. 

MedCline provides a range of pillows to help you sleep comfortably, with pillows that keep your head and spine properly aligned. Our products are clinically proven to relieve the symptoms of chronic health issues and sleep disorders with a line that includes:

Sleep, feel, and live better with a MedCline Relief System and get the rest you deserve. 

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the healthiest position to sleep in?

Sleeping on your side or back is the way to go. These positions help keep your spine happy and supported. Plus, your muscles can chill out and recover. It's way better than sleeping on your stomach.

 

What is the most unhealthy sleeping position?

Sleeping on your stomach might help with snoring, but it's not the best choice. Your head gets lifted on the pillow, making it tricky to keep your spine straight. This position can make your back and neck feel all sorts of wrong.

 

Is it good to sleep without a pillow?

For folks who sleep on their front, ditching the pillow might be a win. It can help your neck and spine stay buddies during sleep. But if you're a back or side sleeper, no pillow might mean waking up with some aches.

 

What sleep position is best for anxiety?

The 'shooting star' position, where you lie on your back and spread out, can help chill out those anxious feelings. It's like giving your body a big stretch while you snooze.

 

Where do you put your arms when sleeping on your back?

Sleeping on your back? Let your arms rest by your sides. It helps spread out your weight and gives your shoulder muscles a break. It's like giving them a mini-vacation every night.

 

How should I sleep to improve circulation?

Try sleeping on your left side. It can help with swelling and get your blood moving right. Plus, it's a thumbs-up for keeping those varicose veins in check. It might feel different at first, but give it a shot. Your body might thank you.

 

What sleeping position lowers blood pressure?

Want to be kind to your blood pressure? Sleep on your left side. It's like giving your blood vessels a clear path back to your heart.

 

Should you sleep with your head lower than your feet?

Lifting your feet up can help with blood flow and keep swelling down. And if you prop your head up, you might breathe easier and snore less. Think about getting an adjustable bed. It's like customizing your sleep.

 

Is it better to sleep on your left or right side?

Sleeping on your left side can make breathing a breeze. The right side's okay too, but the left side's the star. Especially if you have sleep apnea, the left side's the way to go.

Resources

Altun, Insaf, et al. "The Contributing Factors to Poor Sleep Experiences in According to the University Students: A Cross-sectional Study." Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, 2012,https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3634295/.

 

Colten, Harvey R., and Bruce M. Altevogt. "Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem."The National Academies Collection: Reports Funded by National Institutes of Health, 2006,https://doi.org/10.17226/11617.

 

“Sleep Apnea.”Medline Plus,https://medlineplus.gov/sleepapnea.html

 

"A Look at the Body's Natural Time-keeping System."UCLA Health,www.uclahealth.org/medical-services/sleep-disorders/patient-resources/patient-education/circadian-rhythms.

 

Sutton, Jandra, and Nick Villalobos. "Best Sleeping Positions for a Good Night’s Sleep."Healthline, 21 Mar. 2023.https://www.healthline.com/health/best-sleeping-position

 

Suni, Eric, and Dr. Abhinav Singh. "Best Sleeping Positions."Sleep Foundation, 11 Jul. 2023.https://www.healthline.com/health/best-sleeping-position

 

A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. Problems sleeping during pregnancy. MedlinePlus. 2 Jun. 2020.https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000559.htm