Do you spend most of your time in bed sleeping on your stomach? While you might find the most comfort in this position, you might be harming yourself. It is therefore essential to know the advantages and disadvantages of sleeping on your stomach.
Yes, sleeping on your stomach is bad for you. It leads to spinal misalignment, difficulty breathing, and neck and joint pains. However, it can benefit people with sleep conditions like Sleep Apnea.
Sleeping on your stomach is rare, with only seven percent of sleepers falling under this category. However, chiropractors and other experts discourage it. Here is what you should know about sleeping on your tummy and why it is bad for you;
How Is Sleeping On Your Stomach Harmful To You?
Sleep experts discourage sleeping on your stomach. The main reason is the poor spine alignment that comes with the sleeping position. However, there are more valid ways in which sleeping on your stomach endangers you. Here are the reasons:
Endangers The Spine
Sleeping on your stomach strains your back and spine due to the unnatural positioning of the body. While sleeping on your stomach, weight is exerted at the center of the body, disturbing its natural positioning. As a result, you experience pain and discomfort.
Causes Neck Pain
Neck pain and stiffness are also a downside of sleeping on your stomach. It causes excess strain, especially when you turn your head to the side to breathe. Misalignment results in a herniated disc if it keeps happening for some time.
Bad For Pregnant Women
Pregnant women experience difficulties sleeping on their stomachs during the later stages of pregnancy. It is because sleeping on your stomach affects sleep quality, overall health, and bodily functions. Therefore, sleep experts advise pregnant women to avoid it at all stages of pregnancy.
Instead, expectant mothers should try sleeping on their left side. The position allows maximum comfort for both the mother and the baby and better blood circulation to the fetus. Also, it ensures that both the mother and the fetus get enough oxygen.
Cause Difficulty In Breathing
Sleeping on your stomach causes direct compression of your chest. As a result, you wake up with excessive grogginess and fatigue. In addition, the sleeping position can lead to the exposure of the soft tissue to higher pressure in the chest. Such increases the chances of congestion and cysts.
Causes Acid Reflux
Going to sleep in this position immediately after having a meal may cause acid reflux, heartburn, and stomach pain. Also, sleeping on your stomach exerts a lot of pressure on the stomach and other organs, reducing their efficiency.
Poor Air Circulation
According to experts, people with high cholesterol levels suffer from plaque blockage in their arteries when sleeping on their stomachs. Therefore, sleeping on your stomach can lead to death due to the brain lacking enough oxygen.
In addition, researchers believe that sleeping on your stomach compresses the arteries close to the backbone. Such is due to turning the head to the side while hugging the pillow. As a result, there is less oxygen supply to the brain.
High Blood Pressure
Constricting blood vessels while sleeping on your stomach can lead to high blood pressure and a higher heart rate. Due to the pressure on the heart, hypertension might occur in the middle of that, risking your health.
Facial Wrinkles And Early Aging Signs
Laying on your tummy causes wrinkles and unnatural lines from the pillow and bedsheets to appear on your face. Also, sleeping on your stomach may lead to compressing of the face and, therefore, decreased air and blood supply. As a result, the skin loses its elasticity over time.
Excess Pressure On The Joints
Sleeping on your stomach means positioning your entire body in an unnatural position for a long time. Thus, all positions involve twisting your joints in a way that causes pain and sometimes numbness.
How Is Sleeping On Your Stomach Good For You?
While sleep experts discourage it due to its risks, sleeping on your stomach is a remedy for certain sleeping conditions. It reduces the risk of snoring and Obstructive sleep apnea by keeping your airways naturally open.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleeping condition resulting from throat muscles relaxing and causing an obstruction. Facing down in your sleep does not allow the throat muscles to relax.
How Can I Stop Sleeping On My Stomach?
Quitting the habit of sleeping on your stomach can be challenging, especially for committed stomach sleepers. However, it is possible to quit sleeping on your stomach over time. You just need to practice patience since it might take up to six months.
Use A Cervical Pillow
Cervical pillows have a design that only fits the comfort of side and back sleepers. Therefore, it is unbearable for a stomach sleeping position. Using this pillow for some time will force you to adapt to a new sleeping position.
Use A Full-Body Pillow
Full-body pillows provide warmth, pressure, and support to ensure you fall asleep. This long cylindrical pillow is also described as a 'side sleep stabilizer.' It helps stomach sleepers transition to side-sleeping comfortably.
The journey to quitting your stomach-sleeping habit can be challenging. Convincing yourself that it is indeed a bad habit will make stopping the habit easier for you. Challenging yourself will increase your endurance level and increase your chances of success in the journey.
You can challenge yourself by sleeping on sofas or recliners and maintaining a back or side sleeping position. By doing this, you will have no room to roll into other sleeping positions in your sleep.
Other ways to challenge yourself include switching to another sleeping position the moment you find yourself sleeping on your stomach. Also, using the accountability method where you have to punish yourself each time you have a slip-up will help improve.
What Are The Best Beddings For Stomach Sleepers?
Changing your sleeping habits may take time. Therefore, getting the best comfort in your sleeping position is essential. Getting the best mattress and pillow for sleep will improve your posture and general sleeping experience.
Sleeping on your stomach requires a very firm mattress. It holds up your weight and keeps the body alignment in the most natural way possible. A softer mattress will sink in your hips instead of even distribution of body weight, causing your neck to bend downwards.
When looking for the best pillows as a stomach sleeper, pick the one with a smaller profile. The reason is to ensure a healthy head, neck, and spine alignment. Thus, consider the pillow's loft, support, firmness level, pressure relief, shape, and size.
What Are The Best Mattress Materials For Stomach Sleepers?
Foam mattresses are the best for stomach sleepers. They are responsive but do not sink in, hence can support you without causing harm to your spine. Another alternative would be a latex or hybrid mattress.
What Pillow Materials Are Best For Stomach Sleepers?
The best pillows for stomach sleepers are memory foam, latex, and down alternatives. These pillows have a design that helps reduce tension and improve spinal alignment. In addition, they also conform to your body, hence optimum comfort.
Before picking a preferred pillow, consider your weight, height, and possible allergens.
The downside of sleeping on your stomach outweighs its pros. Therefore, we recommend visiting a qualified chiropractor to assess your neck, cervical spine, and whole body. You will also learn about what sleeping position is suitable for your body.
Feruza is a mom and a blogger. She had a neck pain for 15 years, which made her interested in everything about pillows.
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases made on our website. If you make a purchase through links from this website, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Read my full disclosure.