How your sleeping position affects your health

Find out how it can affect your health.

How your sleeping position affects your health

Do you sleep on your back, curled up in a ball, on your side or star-fished out on your stomach? No matter what your preferred sleeping position is, find out how it can affect your health.

On your back, arms down

This is generally considered to be the ‘best’, or healthiest, sleeping position. It is good for your spine and your neck, as long as you don’t use too many pillows or your pillow isn’t too high. It can, however, cause you to snore, or cause your snoring volume to increase.

On your back, arms up

This position is also good for your back, but it can cause shoulder problems as your shoulders are resting in an unnatural position for a long period of time. Any back position may make snoring worse, but it is thought that sleeping on your back can help to prevent facial wrinkles and breakouts.

On your stomach

Sleeping on your stomach can be good for digestion, but as most people turn their head to the side in order to breathe, this one can cause neck problems. Sleeping on your stomach is also not great for your spine, as it has little support.

On your side, curled up
If you are curled tightly into a ball, this position can cause neck and back problems. Sleeping on your side is, however, helpful in minimising snoring.

On your side, arms up or down
Your spine is well supported in its natural curve in this position, provided you have a good mattress. Sleeping on your side with your arms down can also help with neck problems, sleep apnoea and snoring. The downside is that any side position can cause shoulder pain, due to restricted blood flow and pressure on the nerves. These problems can be exacerbated if you have your arms out in front of you.

Which side?

Which side you sleep on can also have health effects. Sleeping on the right side can worsen heartburn, while sleeping on the left can put strain on some of your internal organs.

With an extra pillow

The extra pillow isn’t for your head - it’s for the rest of your body. Supporting your sleeping position with an extra pillow is a sure-fire way to get a more comfortable night’s sleep. If you sleep on your back, try a small pillow in the arch of your spine. On your stomach, tuck a small pillow under your hips. And if you sleep on your side, try a thin pillow between your legs. 


    To make a comment, please register or login
    13th Sep 2013
    After spending six years confined to a wheelchair then managing to walk again, I experienced painful hip problem upon waking. A slim pillow between my knees fixed the problem so now I have two lying lengthwise on my bed. My beloved elderly cat makes use of them during the day by sleeping, leaning propped up on one. :-)
    14th Sep 2013
    Hello Penqueen1949,
    It is wonderful to hear that you are walking again, good luck with your future, take care.
    13th Sep 2013
    N.B. sleeping on the back seems to be worse for people with sleep apnoea.
    13th Sep 2013
    I sometimes had trouble getting to sleep at night so my doctor advised me to sleep on my side right on the edge of the bed... that way you are almost certain to drop off!
    13th Sep 2013
    Reeg, do you really think anyone will fall for you sleeping position?
    Grey Voter
    13th Sep 2013
    Good one Reeg ......

    In whatever position, I always make sure I sleep with my glasses on in order to see my dreams clearly ! :-)
    13th Sep 2013
    Keep them coming.. I need them for when I entertain at retirement villages a couple of times a month!!
    13th Sep 2013
    Why do men have Viagra in nursing homes?
    So the blankets don't slip off the beds.
    13th Sep 2013
    I thought males were given Viagra to stop THEM rolling out of bed!
    15th Sep 2013
    MICHAEL -- You are right, trust me to stuff up the joke. But it does make sense
    either way. Cheers.
    2nd Sep 2018
    wowowowo well all depends if the V works for you otherwise you will definitely roll off the bed he he he he if does not work then get a prescription for cialis 100+ maybe works he he he he
    Maybe this will help some of you he he he he

    Have fun fun fun
    Nan Norma
    13th Sep 2013
    you can fall asleep in anyway you chose but once you're asleep you have no control.
    13th Sep 2013
    I NORMALLY sleep on my side, but lately have had to frequent bladder problems, not good getting out of bed on cold winters nights, have a hospital bed so tied sitting up, cured the bladder problems, I have been told I snore, but as I don't hear it, have no idea if snoring is louder sitting up.
    13th Sep 2013
    I found if you put you're bed against a wall it stops you getting out the wrong side.
    Grey Voter
    13th Sep 2013
    Has anyone ever dreamt they were desperately looking for a toilet .....and then dreamt they found one .....................:-)
    13th Sep 2013
    Yes I often do. Why that is I do not know. Sometimes I find them in rather odd places too.
    I have always slept on my left side. Very rarely move all night. I sometimes move over to my right side but after a short time I move back to my left. I have never liked sleeping on my back, arms up or down.
    28th Jan 2016
    Grey voter....comes as a nasty shock when you wake !!
    9th Sep 2017
    Ha ha. I don't even bother looking for a toilet! Anywhere to squat will do! Still doesn't help when you wake up tho. Actually it's worse, cause it's quicker to find a squat spot than to find a toilet.

    When I was 5 years old I was consumed by Shintaro on TV. They had female ninjas on that day, so when I went to bed that night I imagined I was a ninja, on TV. Then I thought "how come on TV you never see people doing ordinary, everyday things like washing or going to the toilet? I think I'll go now, just to make this show more realistic." Yep, emptied the whole bladder and started wondering why my pyjama pants were so very warm, then not so warm but...wet!

    It was the first and last time I ever wet the bed. Tho lately when I wake, I really need to get up and get to the loo real fast. I rarely get up during the night as I'm a heavy sleeper, so by morning I have a full tank.
    13th Sep 2013
    Sleeping less is often experienced as a condition related to increasing age. In the retirement nursing hostel near us, all the old men are given a bedtime mug of warm milk and Milo together with a Viagra tablet. The Milo drink helps them drop off and the Viagra stops them rolling out of bed.
    14th Sep 2013
    I have tried them all and still wake up with aches and pains,turning a lot during the night. I find it hard to control but I do find that on my back is best for circulation if I can manage to stay that way.
    23rd Sep 2013
    I tend to sleep mainly on my left side with legs slightly bent and my right arm resting along my body to prevent a partial shoulder dislocation (due to an old shoulder injury).

    My back problems were solved by getting a soft-sided water bed with interior baffles (to stop excessive water movement).

    If you lay in the correct position to start with, you will be gently supported without pressure to any part of your body - which is also great for preventing pressure sores if a person is disabled or very thin.

    Because a water bed provides gentle all-over support, you tend to change position much less frequently.

    The trick is to fill it and heat it correctly - which can take a bit of trial and error. It must not be too firm - or too soft. If two people with different weights or sleeping habits are to sleep in the bed, it may be advisable to get one which has individual "sausage-like" bladders.

    It took me about three nights to get used to sleeping in a water bed - but I would not give it up now for anything!!!!

    I have twice had small leaks which caused a localised area of damp bed-linen. These were easily fixed at home using patches and glue from a repair kit. The bed has a liner which goes beneath the bladder - so any leaks are prevented from wetting the base or escaping onto the floor.
    Ageing but not getting old
    29th Jan 2016
    Hi, Pardelope: I thought I was just about the only person left sleeping on my old waterbed. I had been sleeping on one for years (in the U.S.) and when I migrated, I bought one not too long after I arrived. Generally, the most comfortable thing I've ever slept on IF you have the baffles, heater, padding on the sides of the frame, etc.]
    However, as I got older, heavier and more arthritic, I find I have to put more padding on top of the bedding so I don't sink too close to the bottom of the 'mattress' which hurts my hip bone (prefer right side to sleep). I use the long side-sleeper pillow, and sometimes put a firm regular sized pillow at my back so I don't roll in my sleep. I've been sleeping with a CPAP machine for a few years.
    Unfortunately, the past few years seem to be more problematical for my sleeping; I can usually fall asleep within 15 minutes max, but I have on occasion not been able to relax my brain and/or muscles for an hour or even longer! I'd love to try the Tempur mattress sometime but I can't afford to buy one. If it was good, I'd consider getting a mattress pad (if they make one) or consider the Bambillo mattress pad. Anyone have any of those? How are they?
    25th Aug 2016
    I've never slept so well as I did when I owned a (baffles-less, full wave) water bed in the 90s. Having a restless husband, I hardly ever woke up as I was gently rocked back to sleep if I was stirred. Unfortunately I owned a cat too, and his claws meant a few repairs to the mattress, which would eventually leak in the middle of the night..... So we bought a quality posturepaedic. But it's hard and uncomfortable compared to the water bed. and now I have sleep apnoea.

    I miss my water bed so much.
    23rd Sep 2013
    Water beds weigh a LOT - so make sure it has larger castors and/or is placed correctly before filling. it might also be a good idea not to have a water bed upstairs - unless you are sure the floor can take the extra weight.
    4th Mar 2016
    my mattress is made of latex with a memory foam top and you couldn't find a more comfortable bed anywhere. You are supported in any position.
    9th Sep 2016
    One good turn gets all the blankets.
    17th Sep 2016
    It helps sometimes if U have a heart prob. such as Tachycardia to sleep on right side as U R more aware of heart beat on left side , If it is keeping U awake sit up awhile .Helps too with or without a heart Condition. not to have a big meal B4 bed or any time really U will sleep easier . I mainly sleep exceptionally well.
    28th Sep 2016
    On a serious note, anyone got any suggestions with that very annoying problem of waking too early. Like waking around 4.30am whether having gone to bed the night before at 10pm, 11pm or midnight ? This early morning waking is getting me down as fully awake not sleepy at all. I believe age has something to do with - I am now 68. Usually go to sleep straightaway the night before.
    21st Oct 2016
    The only way I can sleep these days in on my back -- and the most sleep I get is 4 hours Max

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