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HomeHealthIs It Better To Sleep On Your Back

Is It Better To Sleep On Your Back

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Who Shouldn’t Sleep On Their Back

How to Sleep On Your Back

Before you start making a huge effort to try sleeping on your back, it’s important to understand that this sleep position isn’t recommended for all people, particularly those with sleep apnea. If you haven’t heard of sleep apnea, this is a condition where a person’s breathing is interrupted, often repeatedly, while sleeping.

“Back sleeping may worsen snoring or sleep apnea, says Terry Cralle, a registered nurse and sleep expert with the Better Sleep Council. “In people with mild obstructive sleep apnea, symptomatic improvement may be achieved simply by avoiding back sleeping.” She adds that people with positional apnea experience the majority of their breathing abnormalities while sleeping on their backs. So if you suffer from positional sleep apnea, back sleeping most likely isn’t for you.

Comfort plays a role in deciding which sleep position is best for you, too. Our experts agree that sleeping on your side can be just as healthy as sleeping on your back. Put simply, sleep experts recommend sleep in whatever position is comfortable for you. Though they do advise against sleeping on your stomach, which can lead to neck and back pain. “Stomach sleeping is generally not recommended, as the low back is hyperextended without an easy way to correct it, and the neck is forced to the side,” Chang said.

If you’re looking to start sleeping on your back, here are some tips and guidance that may help:

When To Avoid A Supine Sleeping Position

As great as sleeping on your back can be, there are some instances where your doctor may tell you to knock it off. If any of the following situations ring a bell for you, talk to your physician about whether or not you should try sleeping flat on your back.

  • Beyond 20 weeks of pregnancy. Once youre about 20 weeks pregnant, the weight of your uterus could compress the vena cava, which is an important blood vessel. Once youre about 5 months along, youll want to transition to side sleeping. Laying on your left side is particularly helpful because the vena cava is on your right side, so it remains completely unrestricted.
  • Serious sleep apnea. Sleep apnea happens most commonly when your airway is obstructed and you intermittently stop breathing during the night. This can happen because your throat muscles relax or because excess weight presses down on your throat while you sleep. In any case, laying flat on your back can make the issue worse. In addition to using a machine to help you sleep, your doctor may suggest an alternate sleeping position.
  • Chronic snoring. A lot of snoring can be a symptom of sleep apnea, but it can also happen on its own. If youre sleeping with a partner, they may ask you to stop sleeping on your back because it makes you more likely to snore loudly and annoy anyone in the room.

Dont Sleep On Your Stomach

Sleeping on the stomach is really the worst sleep position because it puts too much strain on the muscles of your back.

However, if you must sleep in that position, you can support the position more by sleeping with a pillow beneath your pelvis and lower abdomen. And always make sure the pillow is underneath your head and neck, never under your shoulders.

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Our Guidelines To Sleeping Well During The Covid

In spite of the daunting challenges, there are a handful of steps that can promote better sleep during the coronavirus pandemic.

If these efforts dont pay off immediately, dont give up. It can take time to stabilize your sleep, and you may find that you need to adapt these suggestions to best fit your specific situation.

Greater Family And Work Stress

Is It Better To Sleep With Or Without A Pillow

Many families are under serious stress as a result of the coronavirus. Canceled trips, isolation from friends, and an abundance of time spent at home can place a strain on anyone. Keeping up with work-from-home obligations or managing a house full of children who are accustomed to being at school can pose real problems, generating stress and discord that have been shown to be barriers to sleep.

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Choose A Supportive Mattress

Keeping your spine in the proper position is one of the most important things to keep in mind if you want to learn how to sleep on your back properly. Attempting to sleep on your back on a soft and sinking mattress will cause you to wake up with aches and pains in the morning. Its important to find a mattress that is firm enough and will keep your spine aligned all night. The Casper Wave Hybrid has supportive gel pods strategically placed under your waist and lower back to help prevent sinking and keep your spine in the proper position. If you dont want to invest in a new mattress, consider buying a firm mattress topper instead.

Place Pillows Under Your Knees And Lower Back

To relieve pressure from your back, many doctors suggest placing pillows under your knees and lower back. This will help reduce strain on your spine and support the natural curve of your back. This will also help keep your muscles and joints in their natural position so you dont wake up feeling stiff. For your lower back, look for pillows that are thin and not too tall. You can also use a hand towel and place it at the small of your back. This should fill in that open space between your body and the mattress and will provide additional support. For your knees, place one to two regular pillows under your knees. Placing a pillow under your knees will help keep the natural curve of your spine in place. This will also keep your legs from resting too far apart and it will keep your knees and buttocks from becoming too stiff.

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Can Pillows Help Train You To Be A Back Sleeper

Pillows are a helpful tool in training yourself to sleep in a new way. A semi-flat and adjustable pillow under your neck will help keep your head in a neutral position without too much lift. Make sure its not too flat, either. A cushion that is not high enough will put the curve of your neck at an unnatural angle.

Pillows under your arms can offer support and make you feel cradled.

And finally, putting a pillow under your knees relieves pressure and can help ensure a restful night.

View Our Guide:Best Pillows for Back Sleepers

Do Be Mindful Of How You Get In And Out Of Bed

How To Avoid Sleeping On Your Stomach | Habit Building | By Physical Therapist Dr. Lin

Jerking yourself out of bed quickly or getting in too fast can exacerbate lower back pain, so make sure youre careful about doing each:

When getting into bed, first sit down near the place where you want to sleep. Then, using your hands as support, bend your knees and slowly lie down on your side. Take care to keep your torso straight.

When getting out of bed, you basically want to do the opposite. Roll onto your side first towards the edge of the bed, bend your knees, then use your arms to help push yourself up and swing your legs over the side. This will help you keep from bending at your waist, which can engage your back.

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Last Resort: Build A Pillow Fortress To Remind Your Body Of Your Boundaries

I read a tip advising sewing a tennis ball into the side of your pajamas to gently remind your body to not roll over please dont do that. That advice was formerly meant for folks who shouldnt sleep on their back dont sew a tennis ball into the back of your PJs either and its a generous assumption that you wont wake up after a fist-sized ball has dug into your side.

Instead, try adding pillows to either side of you. If you share a bed, having a pillow fort is a nice reminder to cuddly partners that sleep time is me time.

Place A Pillow Under Your Lower Back

Some people find that back sleeping increases discomfort in their lower back. Placing a pillow under your lower back while you sleep might help. If the pillow is too large or thick, however, it may create even more discomfort. You may need to try a few different pillows to find what works best for you.

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The Ideal Sleep Position: On Your Back

The best position to avoid back pain is lying flat on your back. Even so, many people find it the hardest way to enjoy deep sleep. For optimal spine alignment, place one pillow underneath your head or neck and another underneath your knees. If youre pregnant, however, you should avoid this position because it decreases blood circulation to the heart and baby.

Best Sleeping Positions During Pregnancy

How to Sleep on Your Back Comfortably: 7 Steps (with Pictures)

If you are pregnant, sleeping on your stomach or back will be uncomfortable or impossible. You will be most comfortable sleeping on your side. Favor your left side to maximize circulation for both you and your baby. Placing a body pillow or pillow under your belly can help relieve back pain. Place another pillow between your legs and bend your knees to be even more comfortable.

Avoid This Position During Pregnancy

You’ve probably already heard this from your doctor, but just in casepregnant women should not sleep on their backs during the third trimester of pregnancy. For more than half a century, we’ve known that pregnant back sleepers are reducing blood flow to their fetus.

But only recently researchers discovered that this sleep style also raises the risk of a stillbirth, even in otherwise healthy pregnancies. You should also avoid lying on your back during the dayjust 30 minutes of this posture has been shown to force your fetus to shift to a state that requires less oxygen to survive. These results suggest that lying on your backeven for a short restreduces the oxygen available to your fetus.

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Is Side Sleeping Bad For Your Back

Although side sleeping is arguably the healthiest sleeping position, it can be difficult on your back if you dont take precautions. The greatest concern is that your legs may pull your hips out of a alignment, which you can solve by sleeping with a knee pillow. The fetal position can also soothe back pain from a herniated disc.

Position Your Bed For Comfort

If those concerns dont apply to you, you can let comfort be your guide, Salas says. But sleep position isnt the only thing to consider when going for a comfortable nights sleep. Salas recommends replacing old mattresses and pillows. Choosing soft-versus-hard is just a matter of preference, but aim for something supportive, she says. If you have neck or shoulder pain, a supportive pillow designed to cradle the neck could be helpful. A bolster or pillow supporting the legs could ease pain in the lower back. Dont underestimate the importance of optimizing your bedroom to help you get a good nights sleep. Salas adds:

  • Clean sheets: Wash sheets frequently and vacuum the mattress to rid it of dust and dander that can cause allergies and impair your sleep.
  • Close the blinds: Use curtains or blinds to keep the room dim at night. But open the curtains in the morning to reset your internal clock.
  • Location matters: Position your bed so you arent facing distractions such as a desk stacked with work or a blinking light.

The sleep environment is something that can easily be fixed, Salas says. By giving a little thought to positioning your body and bed, you might find your slumber is even sweeter.

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On The Front With The Face Down

Sleeping on the front is generally unhealthy when a person turns their head to the side, twisting the spine and placing additional stress on the neck, shoulders, and back.

To avoid this, try lying face down. To do so comfortably:

  • Get into bed and carefully roll onto the stomach.
  • Place a slim pillow beneath the abdomen and hips.
  • Position a pillow or a rolled-up towel under the forehead to create enough breathing space between the mouth and mattress.
  • Buying The Right Pillow

    How to improve hunchback posture while you sleep: the best sleeping position

    The best pillow for you depends on your preferred sleeping position. Why? How youre positioned affects the width between the neck and the mattress.

    An unsupportive pillow causes neck muscle strain. This is likely to leave you with morning neck pain and a headache.

    Side sleepers have the largest gap between their necks and mattresses because of the distance their shoulders create, which is why they need the thickest pillows. If you sleep on your side, look for a high-loft pillow around 4 to 6 inches. To get the best possible pillow, you might want to measure the length of your shoulder from your neck.

    If youre a side sleeper, you may find hugging a second pillow helps you fall asleep. This additional pillow gives your arm a place to rest.

    Back sleepers should shop for a flexible mid-loft pillow that will mold to the neck while also cradling the head. Pillows with adjustable fills such as down and shredded memory foam are good choices.

    Stomach sleepers should look for a flat pillow thats under 3 inches thick. A stomach sleeper may also sleep better without a head pillow. Instead, keep a pillow under their abdomen to prevent sinkage.

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    Get A Pillow Designed For Side Sleepers

    The best pillow for side sleepers is one that supports proper alignment between your neck and the rest of your spine. Your neck should stay aligned with your upper back to avoid creating any pressure or neck pain upon waking up. If you sleep on your side and are prone to neck pain, you might want to avoid a feather pillow and opt for a supportive latex pillow instead.

    Measure the space between your neck and the edge of your shoulder. When you go shopping for pillows, that measurement should be close to the pillows loft, which describes the height of a pillow.

    You can use additional pillows to make side sleeping more comfortable. Place a pillow between your knees to keep your hips aligned, reduce pressure on your knee joints, and prevent straining your lower back.

    How Do You Prepare For Floor Sleeping

    Some people associate floor sleeping with camping and sleeping bags. However, sleeping on the floor doesnt have to be a rustic experience to be effective. You may find shifting to ground level uncomfortable at first until you get used to it. As you make the transition to floor sleeping, there are some things you can do to maintain your comfort:

    • Place a mat or blanket on the floor to sleep on so youll still have some cushioning under you
    • Make an effort to sleep on your back to maintain a neutral position
    • Give your body time to adjust to sleeping on a hard surface that retains your natural spinal alignment*

    *You may wake up with stiffness or discomfort at first, but these sensations should go away over time as your spine adjusts.

    When your discomfort reaches a point where its chronic , consider trying different options like sleeping on the floor. If youre not keen on the idea of ditching your mattress to gain a more productive nights sleep, another possibility is to choose a pillow that doesnt elevate your head as much so your spine will retain its natural alignment. Sleeping with a pillow under your knees or on a body pillow may achieve the same goal.

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    Back Sleeping For A Good Nights Sleep

    Back sleeping is the healthiest for your spinal health and is the most recommended sleeping position for those with back pain. While training yourself to sleep on your back can be challenging, the benefits are well worth the effort. If youre having trouble sleeping in the supine position all night, try using pillows to prop and prevent yourself from rolling onto your side or stomach. With the proper effort, you can be a back sleeper in no time.

    About the author

    Dont Stay In One Position All Night

    How Long is it Safe to Sleep on Your Back While Pregnant ...

    You might be afraid of moving from one position to the other during the night, but its actually okay and desired to move some while sleeping. Any sleeping position, even if its a good one, can add up to too much pressure on your back if you stay there all night. Plus, theres a risk of additional pain or muscle imbalance from this.

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    Sleep Positions For Sleep Apnea And Snoring

    People with sleep apnea experience more light sleep and less deep sleep compared with people without apnea. A strong relationship also exists between a history of snoring and complaints of daytime sleepiness. Furthermore, many adults sleep with a partner, and snoring and symptoms associated with sleep apnea can negatively impact a partners’ sleep and daytime functioning. Poor sleep has also been linked to glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes, among other negative health outcomes.

    Body position during sleep may reduce snoring and improve sleep apnea. One study found that 50% of patients with mild obstructive sleep apnea and 19% with moderate obstructive sleep apnea both saw a 50% reduction in sleep apnea events by sleeping in a non-supine position. Research also has found that sleeping in the side position decreases the frequency and severity of these events in patients with obstructive sleep apnea and with central sleep apnea. Therefore, sleeping in the side position is recommended for people with both obstructive and central sleep apnea.

    In addition to positional therapy, other treatment options for sleep apnea include:

    • Avoiding alcohol and certain medications such as sleeping pills
    • Using continuous positive airway pressure
    • Treating associated medical problems

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