From the “log” to the “starfish” to the “soldier,” there all sorts of clever names to describe sleeping positions. But how do you find the best position to sleep?
Cute names aside, different sleeping positions will affect your body in varying ways. Some positions can limit snoring or lower back pain, while others could leave you with a crick in your neck. Your body’s needs are unique, and your sleeping position should accommodate them.
Let’s talk about the most common ways to sleep, what’s so great (and not great) about each one, and how you can find the best sleep position for your body’s needs.
Are you a side sleeper? You’re not alone! As it turns out, about 40% of people say they like to sleep in the fetal position (hey, old habits are hard to break).
Another popular position for side sleepers is the log, which is when you sleep on one side with your arms down at your sides and your legs straight.
Common Pain Points:
In general, side sleeping is popular because it can feel cozy when you’re falling asleep. But that doesn’t mean it’s not without its potential pitfalls. A lot of side sleepers awake with shoulder and arm pain.
Because you’re putting so much pressure on your rotator cuff throughout the night, you may find that your shoulder is stiff in the morning. That’s not to say that side sleeping isn’t the best position to sleep, but there are some modifications that may be required for you to wake up with a bounce in your step instead of a slow–moving shuffle toward the ibuprofen.
Side sleepers, listen up! The best way to sleep on your side is on your left. Sleeping on your right may lead to an increase in acid reflux. Sleeping on your left side also improves your blood flow. While this advice is especially pertinent to pregnant sleepers, it’s also good food for thought for the rest of us.
The absolute best way to sleep on your side (at least according to one sleep expert), is on your left with a pillow between your legs.
Sleeping with a pillow between your knees pulls excess pressure off your hips and helps keep your spine straight. You should also pay attention to your head pillow. The pillow should be just high enough to sufficiently lift your head while your neck remains straight. This can relieve some of that rotator cuff and neck pain we were talking about earlier.
If side sleeping is the best position to sleep for your comfort and/or health needs, just be sure to enlist some pillow support. A flat pillow will exacerbate the common pitfalls of side sleeping. If you do it right, side sleeping can also ease sleep apnea, because it keeps your airway open.
Now for the lucky people who actually want to sleep on their back. Most healthcare practitioners who weigh in on this debate agree that the overall best position to sleep is on your back. You’re not contorting your body into unnatural positions this way, and your spine remains properly aligned.
Sleeping on your back can also be great for your skin, helping reduce wrinkles. People with acid reflux may also benefit from back sleeping because this sleeping position has been shown to stop acid from flowing back up toward your esophagus.
Sleeping on your back could also improve circulation in your arms and legs. When you’re sleeping on your side or stomach, your arms can get trapped beneath your body causing them to go numb.
Common Pain Points:
Now that we’ve sung the praises of back sleeping, let’s talk about when it may not be the best position to sleep in. The loud truth is that back sleepers are more likely to snore. Not only could this lead to an elbow to the ribs (your sleeping partner can only take it for so long), but snoring is often disruptive to your sleep patterns.
Similarly, people with untreated sleep apnea may have a harder time breathing when they’re on their back. Your pillow can force your chin down, narrowing your breathing passageway.
Back sleepers are on the right track, but they can still tweak their strategy. Like any good yoga instructor would adjust your savasana, we’re here to correct your form just a bit.
Putting a pillow under knees can be great for back sleepers. This aids the natural curve of your spine and could help you eliminate that pesky lower back pain you’ve learned to deal with.
Sleeping on your back is the best position to sleep for most people. You can make it even better with additional support under your knees and a single puffy pillow. This keeps your head propped up without elevating it too high.
Stomach sleepers, unite! This sleep position is generally regarded as the worst for your body, but if it’s the most comfortable for you, we won’t judge.
Jokes aside, if you sleep on your stomach you may want to retrain yourself to fall asleep and stay asleep on your side throughout the night. It’s not as stark a transition as moving to your back and it will probably lead to less back and neck pain.
Whether in starfish position with your arms and legs extended, or with your arms up around your pillow, stomach sleeping isn’t ideal for pain-free mornings.
Common Pain Points:
People who spend their night on their stomach often wake up with back and neck pain. Your back may be unnaturally arched in this position, and it certainly doesn’t have the support of your mattress.
It’s also not the best position to sleep because it requires you to lay with your head to the side for so many hours (we assume you’re not faceplanting into your pillow). Imagine if you had to sit with your head turned 90 degrees to the side for three hours. Ouch, right? Having your head craned this way often leads to sore muscles, even when you’re asleep.
Alas, if sleeping on your stomach is what tickles your fancy, you may as well make the most of it. A single pillow on the thin side will treat your neck more gently than a puffy one that props you up too far.
You may also want to prop a pillow under your hips and lower abdomen to give your lower back a boost. With these small adjustments, you can stop waking up as achy.
Laying on your stomach can be the best position to sleep if you struggle with snoring, but it doesn’t do too much else to treat your body right. If you’re a stomach sleeper and proud of it, the pillow you choose is more important than ever. Likewise, your mattress should be uniquely qualified to give you support from any angle – even when you snooze facedown.
Bum bum bum bummmmm (that’s our own trumpet sounding). We cordially invite you to try out the Layla Sleep system. Our memory foam mattress and pillow can tackle all sleeping positions… except maybe if you doze off in your armchair.
The best position to sleep is one with the right support on your side. Our copper-infused memory foam draws heat away from your body like a magnet so you sleep cool. It also has antimicrobial properties, so it keeps your bed more germ–free than ever before. But most importantly: It conforms to your every curve so your pain points are always treated right. It’s a great side sleeper mattress, but back and stomach sleepers also sing its praises.
If you’re not ready for a new mattress, check out our back pain mattress topper to give your current mattress a makeover.
The Layla Pillow is another great addition to your bed. You can take out the filling as needed until it’s comfortable. If you’re a side sleeper, keep that baby full. Sleep on your stomach? Just take some of the foam out to make the pillow thinner. Adjusting your comfortable cooper pillow is as simple as dozing off to the sound of your favorite late-night reruns.
Are you ready to explore better sleep? Layla Mattress and Layla Pillows support you all the time, whether you’re in the best position to sleep or going against the experts.