The Back Sleepers Guide to Sleeping Comfortably

The Back Sleepers Guide to Sleeping Comfortably

The Back Sleepers Guide to Sleeping Comfortably

Some say that your sleeping position can provide a clue to your personality. Fetal position sleepers, for example, are said to have a shy disposition, while stomach sleepers may be brash, anxious, and adverse to criticism.

Back sleepers, if they take up the "soldier position" (arms are at your side), are allegedly reserved and non-fussy. Those that prefer the starfish position (arms spread to the side, above the pillow) are supposedly good listeners and good friends.  

While this is an interesting theory, there's no conclusive evidence that your sleeping position can really tell us about your personality. That said, your sleep position can contribute to your overall health. Sleeping on your back may be your best bet for good health and quality sleep. 

5 reasons to sleep on your back 

If back sleeping isn't already your preferred sleeping position, we have some compelling reasons to reconsider how you sleep. Here are some of the top reasons to choose back sleeping over stomach sleeping or side sleeping:

Alleviate back and neck pain

Sleeping on your back in a neutral position can help keep your spine aligned, reducing the risk of developing back or neck pain. Back sleeping is the healthiest sleeping position for your spine.

Prevent facial wrinkles

Stomach sleeping and side sleeping require you to press your face against a pillow for the entirety of the night. This can contribute to sleep wrinkles. Sleeping on your back can help prevent this.

Keep breakouts at bay

Dirt and sweat build-up on your pillow may contribute to acne breakouts. Sleeping on your back, without your face making contact with the pillow, is a great way to take care of your skin.

Can relieve pressure on joints

Sleeping on your back can help reduce pressure on your joints, benefiting people with arthritis or other joint conditions.

Help reduce tension headaches

Back sleeping can help reduce the likelihood of tension headaches by aligning the spine and taking pressure off the head and neck.

Types of back sleeping positions

There are several types of ways to sleep on your back:

  • Soldier Position: In this position, the sleeper lies flat on their back with their arms at their sides.

  • Starfish Position: This position is similar to the soldier position but with the arms raised above the head.

  • Elevated Head Back Position: This position involves sleeping on the back with extra neck support. This position can also be achieved with an adjustable bed frame, an extra pillow underneath the neck, or a rolled-up towel.

  • Pillow Under Your Knees Back Position: In this back sleeping position, a rolled-up towel or extra pillow is placed under the knees.

  • Pillow Under Your Back: In this supine position, a rolled-up towel or extra pillow goes under the small of your back.

Can you train yourself to sleep on your back? 

You can train yourself to sleep on your back. Training yourself to sleep on your back may require patience, but it is possible.

Your doctor may recommend sleeping on your back if you experience chronic back, neck, or shoulder pain. On the other hand, back sleeping may not be for everyone, so if you can't hack this sleeping position, don't fret.

How to make back sleeping on your back more comfortable

If you want to train yourself to sleep on your back, or you'd like to make back sleeping more comfortable in general, here are a few tips you can follow:

Place a pillow under your knees

Placing a pillow under your knees helps to maintain the natural curve of your spine. This can reduce strain on your lower back muscles and support your spine's alignment.

While there are some specific pillows available for placing under your knees, you can use an extra bed pillow or a simple throw pillow to achieve the task.

Place a pillow under your lower back

Placing a pillow underneath your back helps relieve pressure on your low back by supporting your spine.

Surround yourself with pillows

Body pillows are an excellent tool to train yourself to sleep on your back. Using body pillows on both sides of you can help you resist the urge to turn to your side during the night.

Get a supportive mattress

Having a supportive, firmer mattress helps make back sleeping more comfortable. If now isn't a good time for mattress shopping, a mattress topper or mattress pad may do the trick.

Get the right pillow to elevate the head slightly 

Sleeping with your head propped up is another great way to help align the spine. Make sure you have the right pillow to help ensure your spine is in proper alignment.

Don’t give up

It may take a few nights to get used to a new sleeping position. If you can't switch immediately, don't get discouraged. Try different supine sleeping positions (such as the starfish).

Is back sleeping the best sleep position?

Sleeping on your back is often recognized as one of the best sleeping positions, although it is not the most popular. There are many health benefits to choosing this sleeping position, but it is not for everyone.

Pregnant mothers, those suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), those with chronic snoring, acid reflux, or anyone with frequent episodes of sleep paralysis should opt for a different sleeping position.

Cons to sleeping on your back — who shouldn't

Back sleeping has many benefits, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best sleeping position for everyone.

  1. If you are pregnant. Sleeping in a supine position can reduce blood flow to the uterus, increase the risk of sleep apnea, and cause discomfort due to the weight of a pregnant belly. Pregnant mothers are often advised to sleep on their left side (stomach sleeping is also nearly impossible for a pregnant body, especially as the belly grows), which can reduce potential health risks to the mother and fetus.

  2. If you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. OSA is a sleep disorder that causes interruptions in breathing during sleep due to the relaxation of the muscles in your throat. When you sleep on your back, gravity works against you, making it more likely for your airways to become obstructed. Those suffering from sleep apnea are advised to sleep on their side. 

  3. If you experience chronic snoring. Snoring is caused by the vibration of relaxed tissues in your mouth, such as your tongue, throat, and soft palate. Similar to what happens during OSA, sleeping on your back may create more obstruction in the airways, meaning more vibrations, which leads to louder snoring.

  4. If you have frequent episodes of sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis is a terrifying nighttime occurrence in which the sleeper feels they can not move or speak, usually as they are falling asleep. or waking up. Sleeping on your back may be correlated to episodes of sleep paralysis.

  5. If you have acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease. GERD occurs when stomach acid flows into your throat. Sleeping on your back may worsen the symptoms of GERD as the acid is more likely to make it to your throat and stay there.

  6. If you feel uncomfortable. If you find that sleeping on your back makes it difficult to fall asleep or causes you to wake up often throughout the night, stick with your preferred sleeping position. While it may take a few nights to adjust to a new sleeping position, choose quality sleep over changing to back sleeping. If you think your sleeping position exacerbates neck, back, or shoulder pain, speak to your doctor.

Other sleep tips for back sleepers 

When it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, one of the most important steps you can take is creating good sleep habits.

Make sure your sleeping environment is as comfortable as possible. This means making the bed with high-quality bedding which is season appropriate, soft, and well-crafted.  

Make sure your bedroom is at the correct temperature (around 65 degrees Fahrenheit) and that you reduce the amount of light and noise entering your bedroom. 

Get into a healthy sleep routine, which includes going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, having a substantial wind-down time, and cutting back on screen time before bed. 

Bottom Line

Sleeping on your back can improve your overall health, especially if you suffer from joint, neck, or back pain. Maintaining a supine sleeping position throughout the night can also help prevent sleep wrinkles and acne breakouts on your face.

Sleeping on your back can lead to better sleep quality and can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Healthy sleep habits should also be prioritized.

To help you sleep on your back more comfortably, Mellanni recommends the following from our collection:


Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.