Sleeping Positions - Pros and Cons

How much you sleep is just as important as how you sleep. Getting a good night's rest isn't just about getting to bed on time, but also how well you sleep throughout the night. How you position your body in bed may effect your sleep greatly. Here are the basics on the 4 main sleeping positions: both their pros and their cons. 

The first sleeping position is called the supine position, in which you lie flat on your back. This position keeps your back and neck straight in a neutral position. When you're on your back, your mattress supports the natural curve of the spine and your weight is evenly distributed. An added bonus: some research shows sleeping on your back can reduce wrinkles since your face isn't pressed into a pillow! The con to sleeping on your back is that it can make sleep apnea worse for those who have it. 

The most commonly reported sleeping position is side sleeping. This one actually counts as two positions since you can sleep on either side of your body. Some benefits of side sleeping are that it can help eliminate snoring and it reduces sleep apnea and heart burn symptoms. Many pregnant women tend to sleep on their side for their comfort and because it improves circulation. The drawback to sleeping on your side is the pressure on the shoulder and arm supporting your body. You might wake up to some tingling on your arm and shoulder in the morning because of this. 

Some people like to sleep on their stomachs - this is called the prone position. This position can reduce the natural curve of the spine and may cause back pain for some. People who sleep on their side also rest on one side of their face as well, which may cause some neck pain. Despite these cons, some benefits of sleeping on your stomach are that it can reduce snoring as well as symptoms of sleep apnea. 

Whatever position you sleep in, what is important is that you wake rested and ready for the day. If you've always slept in the same sleeping position for years and it works for you, feel free to continue doing so! If you just recently began to notice some problems, it may just be that the surface you are sleeping on may be the problem instead.

After changing your sleeping positions and trying these out as well as try changing your pillows or mattress to firmer and softer ones and still having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor about how you can get the sleep you need. 



This video is part of an ongoing series HealthiNation has created in partnership with the experts at the National Sleep Foundation,

Natalie Dautovich, Ph.D.

This video features Natalie Dautovich, Ph.D.. Natalie Dautovich, Ph.D. is the National Sleep Foundation's Environmental Scholar. She is also appointed at Virginia Commonwealth University as an Assistant Professor of Counseling Psychology in the Department of Psychology. She received her doctorate in Counseling Psychology from the University of Florida and completed a post-doctoral research fellowship at the University of South Florida.

Duration: 02:46. Last Updated On: 2015-12-02
Reviewed by: Dr. Preeti Parikh . Review date: June 25, 2015
Sign up for our daily newsletter!