The experts discourage sleeping on your stomach. In general, this position simply does not offer much in the way of spinal health, and it could do more harm than good.
Stomach sleepers are more prone to having back pain because it’s hard to keep the hips aligned with the spine all night long. Often times a stomach sleeper will sleep with their head turned to one side, this position is often the cause of neck pain. Even worse for a stomach sleeper who uses a big bulky pillow that raises their neck above the rest of the spine.
In spite of the many downsides of stomach sleeping, some people find it’s the position in which they sleep most comfortably. If you can’t help but sleep on your stomach, the following tips will make this a safer position for your spine.
-Tuck a small pillow under your lower abdomen and/or pelvis to elevate hips and aligned with the spine. This supports the natural curve in the lower back and can reduce back strain during the night.
-If you are pregnant try using a donut shaped pillow. As the name implies, donut-shaped pillows are circular pillows with a hole in the middle. This hole creates space for a pregnancy belly, while the perimeter of the “donut” creates the extra support that can make stomach sleeping more comfortable. Note that stomach sleeping is strongly discouraged for pregnant people closer to the end of their pregnancy.
-Keep your legs even. Avoid hiking up one leg higher than the other, as this twists the hips and lower back. Over time, this could create aches and pains.
-Experiment with other sleeping positions. Even if you’re committed to sleeping on your stomach sometimes, it’s a good idea to experiment with back and side sleeping whenever possible to give your spine a break from stomach sleeping. Try side sleeping with a full body pillow so you aren’t able to roll onto your stomach in your sleep. Similarly, if you want to experiment with back sleeping, try placing pillows on either side of your body so it’s more difficult to flip over to your stomach.
If you’re committed to stomach sleeping, keep the following tips in mind whenever you shop for a new mattress or pillow. These guidelines will support healthy spinal alignment as much as possible.
Look for a mattress that’s on the firmer side. A firmer mattress offers good spinal support because it helps prevent the hips from sinking too far into the bed and tugging the spine out of alignment. In general, stomach sleepers require a more supportive mattress than back or side sleepers.
Choose a thinner pillow. A thin pillow will help reduce the angle of your neck and head in relation to the spine, thereby minimizing neck strain. If you’re still experiencing neck strain, try sleeping without a pillow.
Opt for a softer pillow. To keep your airway open, it’s best to avoid turning your neck to one side while stomach sleeping. It might be helpful to purchase a soft pillow to prop up your forehead so you can sleep with your face pointed down toward the mattress without sacrificing your breathing.
In general, back and side sleeping offer far more benefits than stomach sleeping. But ultimately, the best sleep position is the one in which you’re able to sleep soundly.
My final thoughts, no matter your position of choice, taking steps to support your spine will go a long way toward maintaining spinal health over the long term. Healthy nighttime posture can also help you wake up feeling refreshed and supports general wellbeing. Experiment with different sleep positions, pay careful attention to your mattress and pillow selections, adopt the modifications described above, and you should be well on your way to a comfortable night’s sleep.
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