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.