Do you sleep on your side, back, or stomach? You might not realize it but you tend to have a favorite position as you sleep. While this position might change up from time to time, there is one position you subconsciously go back to. But it’s something that is worth paying more attention to because it can directly impact your overall health and sleep quality.
One of these sleeping positions is known as the prone position. Simply put, this position involves sleeping on your stomach. Is this the optimal choice for your health? What are the benefits of sleeping on your stomach? If not, is there a way to change it?
Do you Sleep on Your Stomach?
If you do, then you are part of the 7% of the population that prefer this particular position. It is one of many sleeping positions that are known to man but there are a lot of debates as to whether or not it is good for you.
When you sleep, you need to think about the alignment of your head, neck, and spine. Getting proper support is also crucial so you can feel well rested and wake up with energy, rather than suffering from aches and pains.
Unfortunately, sleeping on your stomach is not the most supportive position. This explains why experts suggest training yourself to sleep on your side or back instead.
To assess whether or not this sleeping habit affects you physically, you can keep a sleep diary. Take note of your sleeping position and if there is any painful sensation you experience upon waking. This will help you understand what might be causing any feeling of pain or restlessness in the morning (if any). It will help you understand what you need to change about your sleeping habits if it affects your sleep quality and energy level during the day.
What Are the Benefits of Sleeping On Your Stomach?
There are a lot of studies that claim that sleeping on your stomach is the least beneficial out of the popular sleeping positions. Discover the benefits of sleeping on your stomach so you can consider it despite the opinion that it might not be the healthiest choice.
- It helps to reduce snoring. If you or your partner has problems with snoring, you can suggest they assume the prone position during sleep. This position eliminates any obstructions in your airway so as to prevent or reduce snoring.
- It can provide relief for patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome. This particular benefit is supported by studies conducted by the European Respiratory Journal. For this reason, the prone position is recommended for patients suffering from this ailment. It is a sample yet safe approach to improve oxygenation in patients. Studies that were done on patients with this condition have seen 70 to 80% improvement in their symptoms. However, the study also acknowledges that assuming the prone position is not the only factor that could have contributed to the improvements in symptoms. Therefore, the reports of the study remain inconclusive and will require further studies to make a more valid conclusion.
Risks of Sleeping on Your Stomach
Is sleeping on your stomach bad for you? The short answer is yes.
There are certain benefits of sleeping on your stomach such as the ones listed above. But if these benefits do not directly impact you, or your health condition, then you might want to look at other sleeping positions instead.
First and foremost, sleeping on your stomach is a no-no for pregnant women. But for others, this position can negatively impact your spine. This is a common complaint for those who are stomach sleepers. They tend to wake up with pain in their neck, back, or joints linking to these parts of the body. But aside from waking up with pain, the chronic pain sensation is also crucial because it can affect your overall sleep quality. When you experience tremendous amount of pain, it can affect your ability to sleep and you might even wake up several times during the night.
Another issue with sleeping on your stomach is that it can increase the amount of stress on your spine. The spine is critical to the nerves in your body so causing stress on your spine can radiate to the rest of your body. As a result, you will experience numbness or tingling sensation.
In addition, your neck is another area that is largely affected by sleeping on your stomach. Since you can’t place your head down directly to your pillow, the natural tendency is to turn your head towards the side. Regardless of which side you are facing, it can put your neck and spine out of alignment. This damage might not be evident after one or a few nights but it will gradually add up over time. One of the most significant risks here is a herniated disk. When there is a rupture in the gel in between your spinal disks, it can cause pain that ranges from mild to debilitating.
Unless you have found a comfortable way to sleep on your stomach, you might want to train yourself to sleep in another position.
Tips for Sleeping on Your Stomach
If you want to sleep on your stomach and don’t have any of the issues listed above, the best thing you can do is to get comfortable. Follow these tips in order to avoid any complications associated with sleeping on your stomach:
- Use a thin pillow. Or better yet, don’t use any pillow at all. The flatter you are from the mattress, the lesser the strain on your head and neck when you sleep on your belly.
- Place a pillow beneath your pelvis. This will help maintain a neutral position for your back and relieve pressure from your spine.
- Stretch when you wake up in the morning. Even a few minutes of stretching can significantly ease pain and restore alignment on your back. It is also recommended that you exercise regularly targeting the muscles that support your back and neck. The more stable these muscles are, the less they are going to be affected by your sleeping position.
The sleeping position preference will differ from one person to another. If you find that you can doze off more easily when you sleep on your stomach, then so be it. Just make sure to follow the tips above so you can be comfortable and avoid any health risks associated with this particular position.