9

votes

What is the best sleeping position?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created November 09, 2011 at 5:15 PM

What's the best sleeping position for health, back, neck, sleep, etc...?

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on August 07, 2012
at 08:28 PM

The one you sleep through the night in. You are going to be unconscious, so no matter where you start, you are going to wake up in whatever position you naturally gravitate to.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on February 03, 2012
at 04:58 PM

Yeah, I can't stand sleeping on my back, I usually sleep on my side/stomach! It is very uncomfortable for me to sleep on my back.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on December 12, 2011
at 04:42 AM

Ha, I get one Mexican dog on either side of me and get stuck sometimes. If given freedom, I actually change position during the night. I start on my side and often wake up on my back.

009bed5330dc6f707c4104eb758ca094

(20)

on December 12, 2011
at 02:14 AM

I am with you on this. I normally sleep on my side, though the best rest I have ever gotten was in a hammock hung outdoors. Granted, it was summer in the Pacific NW at the time(s) and I now live in a highrise apartment in South America. I, too, don't think I could get my partner to go this route.

5eecec35b0d849efbadd5527465928a0

on December 12, 2011
at 12:46 AM

Those with sleep apnea mostly sleep better on the side. Less events than on the back. Easier to deal with equipment on the side.

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on November 10, 2011
at 08:03 AM

Renee, your chiro could be perfectly right in your case. But for some of my patients, lying on the stomach is the most pain relieving position. Arching the back is not bad, at least not necesserily and not for everyone. Compression also is not bad per se. Walking and running causes compression, not to speak of jumping and deadlifting. So if you're ok sleeping on your back, and feel better spine-wise, than it is good for you. By the way, lying on your back is perfectly fine, as is on your side, I'm not trying to push lying on the stomach for everyone. Hopes this makes sense...

66974b2cb291799dcd661b7dec99a9e2

(11121)

on November 10, 2011
at 02:29 AM

@karimoo - I sleep approx 9 hours now up from 7 hours before, but my sleep is naturally bi-phasic now, I sleep about 4-5 hours, wake up rested, lay awake for a bit then fall back asleep after a few minutes. The carpeted floor is just thin carpeting used in most apartments not thick at all lol

1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on November 10, 2011
at 02:17 AM

For Sure Nance!

3193ead7a301b741aafa193c4476edea

(213)

on November 10, 2011
at 02:07 AM

Has your amount of sleep changed switching from bed to floor? Also, how thick/plush is the carpet?

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on November 09, 2011
at 09:41 PM

I sleep with a Chuhuaha, a Chi/Shih Tzu mix and a Boston terrier. Every time I move from one side to the other, it's a dance routine (but we're all really good at it.)

Medium avatar

(572)

on November 09, 2011
at 09:32 PM

My chiro said the very same thing. I use a neck pillow I bought at Ikea and after training myself to sleep on my back I am a believer. My back rarely hurts now and I realized my hips feel great as well.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on November 09, 2011
at 09:05 PM

"The best sleeping position is the one you sleep most comfortably" Perfect!

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on November 09, 2011
at 09:04 PM

We're close! I'm half on-belly and half-side, with one knee drawn up sharply and a pillow under the drawn-up knee. Heaven!

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on November 09, 2011
at 09:03 PM

Oops! I've never slept on my back; if I roll during sleep, my breath gets shut off and I wake up.

F92e4ca55291c3f3096a3d4d3d854986

(11698)

on November 09, 2011
at 07:28 PM

I find that surprising. I like to sleep on my stomach but it causes an arch in my lower back and therefore compression of the vertebrae, so my chiropractor has forbade it.

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on November 09, 2011
at 07:09 PM

I love sleeping on my belly :D, but I never do it because I'm afraid I won't breathe right. Thanks for this question.

306905a32e76b5c0764a663ea7e88426

(1072)

on November 09, 2011
at 06:35 PM

If this is the first kitty pic on PH I'll PayPal you a beer [gluten free, obv.] :)

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13 Answers

best answer

11
89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on November 09, 2011
at 06:32 PM

If you look at the peer reviewed science, there is no conclusive evidence for what's the best sleeping position for avoidance of musculoskeletal pain. Although you will hear a lot of people telling you how to sleep.

I tell my patients that the best current advice you get from science is:

"The best sleeping position is the one you sleep most comfortably"

So it depends.

There is one interesting article about instinctive sleeping positions, but you can barely call it science, it is more opinion, but interesting none the less.

F92e4ca55291c3f3096a3d4d3d854986

(11698)

on November 09, 2011
at 07:28 PM

I find that surprising. I like to sleep on my stomach but it causes an arch in my lower back and therefore compression of the vertebrae, so my chiropractor has forbade it.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on November 09, 2011
at 09:05 PM

"The best sleeping position is the one you sleep most comfortably" Perfect!

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on November 10, 2011
at 08:03 AM

Renee, your chiro could be perfectly right in your case. But for some of my patients, lying on the stomach is the most pain relieving position. Arching the back is not bad, at least not necesserily and not for everyone. Compression also is not bad per se. Walking and running causes compression, not to speak of jumping and deadlifting. So if you're ok sleeping on your back, and feel better spine-wise, than it is good for you. By the way, lying on your back is perfectly fine, as is on your side, I'm not trying to push lying on the stomach for everyone. Hopes this makes sense...

5eecec35b0d849efbadd5527465928a0

on December 12, 2011
at 12:46 AM

Those with sleep apnea mostly sleep better on the side. Less events than on the back. Easier to deal with equipment on the side.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on February 03, 2012
at 04:58 PM

Yeah, I can't stand sleeping on my back, I usually sleep on my side/stomach! It is very uncomfortable for me to sleep on my back.

18
E167c0387a5f0b87bb1f2c3e6aec73a8

(1240)

on November 09, 2011
at 06:18 PM

what-is-the-best-sleeping-position?

^

306905a32e76b5c0764a663ea7e88426

(1072)

on November 09, 2011
at 06:35 PM

If this is the first kitty pic on PH I'll PayPal you a beer [gluten free, obv.] :)

8
Ed983a42344945b1ff70fd9597a23493

on November 09, 2011
at 06:12 PM

What I learned from a chiropracter is the back sleeping is ideal, with just a little head support, or none at all. I retrained myself to sleep this way at her advice, and the difference it made in how my back felt was amazing. If I sleep on my side ever, I make sure to have support for my neck, in between my knees, and between my arms. Keeping the spine in alignment, the hips even, and not caving the shoulders is key to a healthy back.

Medium avatar

(572)

on November 09, 2011
at 09:32 PM

My chiro said the very same thing. I use a neck pillow I bought at Ikea and after training myself to sleep on my back I am a believer. My back rarely hurts now and I realized my hips feel great as well.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on November 09, 2011
at 09:03 PM

Oops! I've never slept on my back; if I roll during sleep, my breath gets shut off and I wake up.

5
66974b2cb291799dcd661b7dec99a9e2

(11121)

on November 09, 2011
at 08:40 PM

I sleep on my back, no pillow, on a carpeted floor. Very restful, deep sleep and I swear my posture has improved because of it. I used to have shoulder pain when I slept on a mattress on my side.

3193ead7a301b741aafa193c4476edea

(213)

on November 10, 2011
at 02:07 AM

Has your amount of sleep changed switching from bed to floor? Also, how thick/plush is the carpet?

66974b2cb291799dcd661b7dec99a9e2

(11121)

on November 10, 2011
at 02:29 AM

@karimoo - I sleep approx 9 hours now up from 7 hours before, but my sleep is naturally bi-phasic now, I sleep about 4-5 hours, wake up rested, lay awake for a bit then fall back asleep after a few minutes. The carpeted floor is just thin carpeting used in most apartments not thick at all lol

3
1ccc0b0b7a756cd42466cef8f450d0cb

(1801)

on November 09, 2011
at 09:00 PM

Esther Gokhale of "The Gokhale Method" recommends sleeping on the back or on the side in the correct posture. Details can be found in her book.

2
26368b97ba98b30eaf36e41fe85a638a

on November 19, 2011
at 07:34 PM

This is a great question. There seems to be quite a lot of variation in the positions people prefer to sleep in. For example, I can only fall asleep on my side or my back, but I often wake up on my stomach. I don't like the way my head has to turn almost 90 degrees when lying on my stomach, but it apparently doesn't bother me when I'm unconscious. My father and brother are the opposite: they can only fall asleep on their stomach/side but often wake up on their back.

Someone mentioned Esther Gokhale's excellent book. For back-sleeping she recommends using a pillow but placing both head and shoulders on it, which changes the position of the spine a bit. I've tried it and can't get used to it. I've also tried back-sleeping without a pillow and can't get used to it, at least on a bed. Lying on my back on a carpeted floor, no pillow feels perfect. Which suggests the question: how much are we messing up sleep/posture by sleeping on soft beds?

Regarding side sleeping with a pillow between the legs, how do you maintain this all night? I've tried falling asleep this way, and it feels great. Then I wake up in the middle of the night and the pillow is down at the foot of the bed! Maybe just a matter of training one's unconscious self?

And on that note, the prevailing popular myth seems to be that if you wake up in exactly the same place/position you fell asleep in, that means you had a particularly restful sleep because you didn't move! It's natural for the body to move every couple of hours as you go through the sleep cycle, and I would think periodic movement is important for circulation and avoiding DVTs/blood clots and pressure sores.

2
Medium avatar

on November 09, 2011
at 06:35 PM

Any position which allows my bulldog to sleep comfortably against me.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on November 09, 2011
at 09:41 PM

I sleep with a Chuhuaha, a Chi/Shih Tzu mix and a Boston terrier. Every time I move from one side to the other, it's a dance routine (but we're all really good at it.)

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on December 12, 2011
at 04:42 AM

Ha, I get one Mexican dog on either side of me and get stuck sometimes. If given freedom, I actually change position during the night. I start on my side and often wake up on my back.

2
1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on November 09, 2011
at 05:16 PM

Back or side. Side with pillow between knees.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on November 09, 2011
at 09:04 PM

We're close! I'm half on-belly and half-side, with one knee drawn up sharply and a pillow under the drawn-up knee. Heaven!

1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on November 10, 2011
at 02:17 AM

For Sure Nance!

1
218f4d92627e4289cc81178fce5b4d00

on December 11, 2011
at 11:11 PM

I like sleeping on back, but I snore and can even slip into pseudo sleep apnea if I do it, I wake up in the morning feeling tired and lethargic. I thought going paleo and losing 12 kgs would help that but it appears it hasn't. As a kid I slept on my stomach, so that's the best way for me even now. I sleep with my head on the end on the end of the pillow, with my arm under the pillow, keeps my head in a more comfortable position -sounds odd but it works. I can sleep on my side, but I invariably slip onto my back in the night.

0
7fe5356d03d69426725ac33cec51e62c

(104)

on August 07, 2012
at 02:59 PM

Depends on your bed as well. If you haven't looked into it yet highly recommend you investigate getting a very good mattress. Most people will spend $10-20k on a car but not a bed which they sleep in for 8-10 hours (hopefully) a day!

0
D89511137c1849427593b3ef172578cb

(395)

on November 10, 2011
at 02:37 PM

I don't know why, but I can't sleep on my back. I just stay there all night if I try.

I wonder why... it's weird.

0
Ca1150430b1904659742ce2cad621c7d

(12540)

on November 10, 2011
at 01:39 PM

Hammock -- any position. I'm a side sleeper, and never felt better than when I was sleeping in my hammock -- I still kick myself for breaking down and buying a bed last year, 'cause my companion didn't like the hammock in the house.

009bed5330dc6f707c4104eb758ca094

(20)

on December 12, 2011
at 02:14 AM

I am with you on this. I normally sleep on my side, though the best rest I have ever gotten was in a hammock hung outdoors. Granted, it was summer in the Pacific NW at the time(s) and I now live in a highrise apartment in South America. I, too, don't think I could get my partner to go this route.

0
F02990386b12528111740ad6279ba29d

(1363)

on November 10, 2011
at 01:41 AM

When I got on a kick reading about this, there were tons of varying opinions. The majority said side with a pillow between knees is best. Back is ok, and stomach is bad. Side sleeping has always been most comfortable for me. However, from a posture perspective it certainly seems like back sleeping would be the way to go. Less time hunched up/over, and you gotta think if you are on your back gravity is slowly straightening you out! IMO FWIW exc exc.

I still sleep on my side because I can't get used to being on my back, not comfortable for me. I wish I would because my posture could be better.

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