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Is There a Healthiest Sleeping Position?

January 28, 2021  ·  7 min read

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Since sleep is one of the most important factors to a healthy lifestyle, you may have asked questions such as, “What is the healthiest sleeping position?” “Does sleeping position affect health?” or “What is the worst sleeping position?” Just like mattresses, sleeping positions are not always one-size-fits-all. If you do not have sleeping-related conditions or pain, there isn’t one sleeping position that’s proven to be demonstrably healthier than others. The important thing is that your sleep position allows you to get comfortable and get quality sleep. 

However, if you suffer from certain conditions or are struggling to sleep due to changes in your body (such as pregnancy or injuries), modifying your sleep position for your particular needs can improve your sleep quality. Let’s discuss the different types of sleeping positions as well as their benefits for your body and certain health conditions.

A quick note on sleeping position problems vs. mattress issues

Before we get into our discussion of healthiest sleeping positions, it’s important to keep in mind that your sleep position may not be to blame for your sleep issues if it’s your mattress that is causing you discomfort. If you try the tips outlined in the following article and are still struggling to get comfortable at night, it might be time to consider a new mattress. For more information, check out our articles regarding bad mattress symptoms and how to choose a mattress

Choosing the Right Sleeping Position for You

There are many factors that can determine what sleeping position could be best for your needs:

  • Age
  • Height and weight
  • Back, shoulder, neck, or joint pains
  • Sleep apnea
  • Snoring 
  • Pregnancy 

Fortunately, research has been able to give us some sound advice on ideal sleeping positions for these situations. 

Best sleeping position for posture improvement: Your choice

Some sleeping positions are better than others to improve your posture and prevent pain. But again, what makes any sleeping position the healthiest sleeping position for you all depends on your needs. For example, if your mattress does not completely support your body or your mattress is too soft, there will most likely be gaps between you and the bed, which can create a lack of support. This is a red flag that it’s time for a new mattress. However, if you’re unable to purchase one, a quick fix  is adjusting your position with pillows. If you sleep on your…

  • Side: Place a pillow underneath your waist and one pillow between your knees, then bring the knees closer to the chest in a fetal-like position. These will alleviate pressure in the knees and hips while keeping your spine aligned. 
  • Back: Place a small pillow underneath the arch of your back for  support or one underneath your knees to reduce stress on the joint. 
  • Stomach: Place a pillow under your hips to take some pressure off of your back. 

Sleeping on your stomach is arguably the worst sleeping position for your posture, as it’s especially hard to keep your neck in a neutral position when sleeping on your stomach. This position also puts pressure on your stomach and lungs, so you may wake up with aches, pains, and numbness after sleeping on your stomach. The right mattress with the right support (as well as the right pillow) may help prevent some of these issues. 

Best sleeping position for shoulder pain/back pain: Back 

Research indicates that sleeping on the back provides the best weight distribution across the body and may be the healthiest sleeping position for shoulder and back pain. Physical therapists also recommend sleeping with a towel underneath your legs to maintain the curve in your lower back to keep the muscles stress-free. Again, a mattress that is suited to your body type (height, weight distribution, etc.) can significantly alleviate these pains. 

Best sleeping position for snoring and sleep apnea: Side

If you’re known for snoring through the night, changing your body position while sleeping could be the first step to relief. When asleep, all of the muscles in your body, including your throat muscles, relax. As your throat muscles relax (and come into closer contact with one another), they create the conditions for air to vibrate as it passes through your throat. These conditions cause snoring and can contribute to sleep apnea. When you sleep on your back, the combination of gravity and your relaxed muscles increase the likelihood of snoring. 

Sleep studies have shown that those who sleep on their backs with their faces upward — also known as a “supine position” — have a harder time breathing throughout the night. Sleeping on your side, however, reduces compression in your airways which makes it easier to breathe, making it one of the healthiest sleeping positions for individuals who struggle with snoring or sleep apnea. 

Best sleeping position for digestion: Left side  

Digestion problems can make sleeping difficult. And waking up with heartburn, constipation, or even acid reflux can make anyone want to rethink their sleep style. Sleeping on your left side may promote better digestion and even ease heartburn. With the help of gravity from sleeping on your left side, the small intestine moves waste to the right side first, then to the large intestine and lower colon on the left side more smoothly. Having a nice supportive pillow and mattress will help keep your head in a neutral position and keep your midsection from sinking. 

Pro Tip: If you suffer from gastrointestinal conditions including GERD, consider investing in an Acid Reflux Box Spring, designed to reduce or eliminate heartburn and choking for a comfortable sleep experience. 

Should I Change My Sleeping Position? 

Even if there isn’t technically a healthiest sleeping position, that doesn’t mean that one sleeping position won’t be more comfortable for you than another. When you have trouble getting comfortable, a change in sleeping position may help. 

If, after reading this article, you decide to try a new sleeping position, be patient with the process. Our bodies tend to revert to the most familiar position once we’re asleep, so it can take some time to make a new sleeping habit. Just remember that regardless of how you sleep, the key to feeling rested when you wake up is making sure that your mattress properly aligns spine, along with your head, shoulders, and hips. An adjustable foundation can be useful to customize your bed to better align your spine as you sleep in your preferred position.

Should switching up your sleep position not help your discomfort as you sleep, it might be time to consider investing in a new mattress. 

Looking for the Best Mattress to Support You? Let the Experts at Texas Mattress Makers Help. 

At the end of the day, the healthiest sleeping position for you is one that promotes the best quality sleep. As long as your body is getting adequate oxygen, circulation, and spinal support while you sleep, the most you have to worry about is feeling comfortable. And the right mattress can help with that. 

Our experts at Texas Mattress Makers are here to assist you in finding the right mattress that fits all of your preferences. If you’re curious about how to choose the best mattress for your body type or the pros and cons between a soft vs. firm mattress, speak to an expert today and/or take our Texas Mattress Makers Quiz online to see what mattresses we would recommend for you.  
You can shop by either comfort level, mattress type, mattress size, or budget or come and visit any of our four convenient Houston locations today!

Want more information about sleeping positions? Check out our Sleeping Positions Snooze News!

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