Trouble Sleeping: The Best & Worst Sleep Positions

We spend on average a third of our lives sleeping. With so much of our time spent in bed, it’s critical we maintain good posture for these 8 hours every night to promote both a good night’s sleep and to decrease the chance of injury from straining something all night long.

The best sleep posture is still the one that gets you to sleep but there are some postures that’ll have you saying ‘Ouch, I must have slept wrong’ more than others.


Back Sleepers

This is the ideal sleep posture. In this position, you’re resting in a neutral alignment with the least amount of pressure on your spine. Additionally, when you sleep on your back, your diaphragm has more room to move and expand, promoting optimal respiration through the night. 


Side Sleepers

If you are unable to sleep on your back comfortably, sleeping on your side is the next best option. Not only does it stop some people from snoring, but it’s easy to use pillows to support yourself comfortably in this position. 

Stomach Sleepers

While this sleeping posture might be comfortable for some people, it is the quickest way to promoting neck pain, lower back pain, and impairing respiration during sleep. Sleeping on your stomach makes you crank your head all the way to one side, puts your lumbar spine in extension, and limits the amount your diaphragm and ribs can expand to breathe all throughout the night. Moving your neck all the way to one side and moving your back into extension are normal motions, but just like bending your finger backward for minutes at a time will make it feel stiff and sore, resting or sleeping at an end-range position is also not ideal.

‘What am I supposed to do if I can only fall asleep on my stomach?’ you might ask.

Believe it or not, it can be done! Our founder April transitioned from being a 20-year stomach sleeper to a back sleeper. Pillows are a valuable tool to help you transition from sleeping on your stomach to sleeping on your back. More often than not, what stomach sleepers really crave is the pressure on their abdomen.  To help transition from being a stomach sleeper to a back sleeper, you can take several pillows and hug them or let them rest on your abdomen. There are even weighted blankets that you can use to help create the sensation of pressure on your abdomen.

If this doesn’t work, then there are also ways of using pillows to position yourself halfway between side and stomach sleeping while still keeping all your joints in a comfortable position.

If you have any questions or think your sleeping posture may be getting in the way of a good night’s sleep, be sure to schedule a Free Discovery Session so one of our physical therapists can have a look. Our physical therapists are experts in helping ensure you feel good after your 8 hours!

As always, consult with your Licensed Physical Therapist for individualized advice. For those in Illinois and California, visit your PT immediately without a prescription or referral.

Give us a call at (877) 709-1090 for more information or fill out the contact us form and we will contact you.

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