Sleeping on your stomach is often considered a controversial sleep position in terms of spinal health. While there are some benefits to being stomach sleepers, such as reduced snoring and lower chances of experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea, the position also poses several drawbacks, like the potential for spinal misalignment and muscle pain.
Given the mixed bag of pros and cons, it’s crucial to approach stomach sleeping mindfully to mitigate its adverse effects on your spine and back health.
In this article, we’ll delve deep into the positives and negatives of stomach sleeping and provide tips for safer practice.
Positives of Sleeping on Your Stomach
Although sleeping on your stomach is infamous for causing more pain than relief, there still lie some advantages. A few of the positives for sleeping on your stomach are mentioned below.
Can Help Prevent Snoring
Sleeping on your stomach is notably effective in preventing snoring. The mechanics are fairly simple but incredibly effective. When you sleep on your stomach, gravity acts as a natural force that keeps the airways more open.
This helps ensure the tongue and soft palate don’t collapse backward into the throat, a common issue when sleeping on the back. The unobstructed airway, in turn, reduces the vibrations we recognize as snoring.
For individuals and couples who struggle with snoring, this can be a significant relief, leading to more restful nights and less interrupted sleep.
Reduced Chances of Sleep Apnea Symptoms
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder characterized by repeated stops and starts in breathing throughout the night.
When left unmanaged, it can lead to various health complications, including cardiovascular issues. Stomach sleeping might be beneficial for some people who have mild sleep apnea.
As mentioned earlier, in this position, the tongue and soft palate are less likely to obstruct the airway, thereby mitigating the risks and symptoms of sleep apnea.
While stomach sleeping isn’t a substitute for medical treatment for sleep apnea, it may offer temporary relief for some sufferers.
Reduce Chances of Acid Reflux
Acid reflux or GERD is another condition that can disrupt sleep quality. The disorder occurs when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, causing discomfort and a burning sensation.
When you sleep on your stomach, gravity once again works in your favor to ensure that stomach acid stays where it belongs—in the stomach, and not your esophagus.
This position helps minimize the chances of experiencing the uncomfortable and often painful symptoms of acid reflux.
While medication and dietary changes are more permanent solutions, stomach sleeping can offer situational relief for those suffering from GERD or occasional heartburn.
Negatives of Sleeping on Your Stomach
Sleeping on your stomach causes some adverse effects on your body which can cause you short-term and even long-term problems in your health as well as day-to-day life.
We’ve jotted down some of the major disadvantages that may be caused due to sleeping on your stomach.
Misalign Your Spine
Sleeping on your stomach can lead to spinal misalignment, particularly if you’re using a mattress that’s too soft.
In this position, the softer mattress can cause your pelvis to sink into the bed, which subsequently forces your spine out of its natural “S” curve and into a more linear, stressed alignment.
This flattened position puts additional strain on your spine and back muscles, leading to potential discomfort, chronic pain, or more serious spinal issues over time.
A softer mattress lacks the firm support necessary to maintain the spine’s natural alignment, amplifying the already risky proposition of stomach sleeping when it comes to maintaining a healthy back.
To avoid this, make sure to use a mattress with firm support such as Dreamcloud’s back support mattress to promote better back health.
May Cause Neck, Back, and Shoulder Pain
Sleeping on your stomach can be a recipe for physical discomfort, mainly because it places your body in an unnatural alignment.
Your neck, which ideally should maintain a straight line with your spine, is forced to rotate to one side to facilitate breathing.
This awkward positioning exerts undue strain on the neck muscles and joints, often leading to stiffness and even chronic pain over time.
Beyond the neck, your spine also suffers. Stomach sleeping makes it challenging to maintain the spine’s natural “S” curve, which often leads to back pain.
The position can also stress other parts of the body, including the shoulders, exacerbating muscle imbalances and potentially causing chronic discomfort.
Therefore, the trade-off for reduced snoring or fewer sleep apnea symptoms might be waking up with a variety of musculoskeletal pains.
Can Cause Facial Wrinkles
While it may seem superficial compared to spinal concerns, the risk of facial wrinkles from stomach sleeping is worth noting.
When you sleep face down, half of your face is pressed against the pillow for several hours at a stretch. The skin, when subjected to prolonged pressure and friction, can develop wrinkles over time.
The breakdown of collagen fibers can accelerate, leading to premature aging of the skin.
May Cause Numbness and Stiffness
Sleeping with your hands under your torso or legs, a common practice for stomach sleepers, can lead to other issues like numbness or tingling sensations.
This position puts pressure on the nerves and restricts blood flow, manifesting as numbness or even chronic conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome over time.
Tips To Safely Sleep on Your Stomach
Knowing the drawbacks doesn’t mean you have to immediately switch your sleeping position, especially if you find it comfortable and conducive to a good night’s sleep. However, it’s essential to employ some strategies to minimize the negatives.
Sleep with a Thin or No Pillow
A high or thick pillow will exacerbate the strain on your neck. Use a thin pillow or consider going without one to keep your neck in a more neutral position.
Support Your Pelvis with a Pillow
Placing a small pillow under your pelvis can help elevate the lower part of your body, relieving some pressure off your spine and aiding in alignment.
Use a Firm Mattress
A firm mattress will provide more support to your body as compared to a soft mattress. A supportive surface helps in maintaining a neutral spine position, reducing the chances of developing back problems.
Stretch Before and After Sleeping
A light stretching routine before bed and after waking up can alleviate muscle tension and improve flexibility, thus counteracting some of the muscular stress caused by stomach sleeping.
Sleep with Your Legs Together
Keeping your legs close together can reduce the likelihood of twisting your pelvis and lower spine, which often occurs when one leg is bent or moved to the side while sleeping on your stomach.
Align Yourself Before Sleeping
Make a conscious effort to keep your body as straight as possible when you lie down. Ensure that your head, neck, and spine are in as linear a configuration as can be, to minimize stress on any one area.
May You Like Also: Trigoxin Medicine: is it Real? Everything You Need To Know
While stomach sleeping has its merits, such as reduced snoring and potentially fewer symptoms of sleep apnea, it comes with a series of potential downsides like spinal misalignment and muscle pain.
If you are a dedicated stomach sleepers, employing a few simple strategies can mitigate these risks, enabling you to enjoy the benefits while safeguarding your spinal health.
Like anything health-related, individual results may vary, and it’s always best to consult with healthcare professionals for personalized advice.
You May Like Also: