Which Sleeping Position Is Best ?
Restful sleep is one of the most important habits for a healthy, happy, and productive life.
A good sleeping posture is key to getting those coveted eight hours every night. Maintaining a neutral position of the hips, spine, shoulders, neck, and head during sleep ensures you wake up feeling refreshed and pain-free. It can also help you avoid health problems later on down the road!
Here at Mellanni, everything revolves around the ultimate night's sleep. That's why we've taken the time to look at the pros and cons of each sleeping position, including which is the most popular and which provides the most health benefits. Let's get to the bottom of the common question: what is the best sleeping position?
Types of sleeping positions
How people sleep is a topic that has been widely studied and discussed.
By adulthood, most of us have a preferred sleeping position which we gravitate towards night after night. Some research even suggests that your go-to-sleep position can be an indicator of certain personality traits.
These are the three common sleep positions, some which also have slight variations:
Side sleeping, including left side, right side, fetal position, and log position
Back sleeping, including with arms up in a starfish configuration or down similar to a soldier
Stomach sleeping, also known as the "freefall" position
A significant amount of research has been carried out related to sleeping positions, overall health, and sleep quality. One study measured nocturnal body movements based on free-living accelerometer recordings, which gives us insight into how our age, BMI, lifestyle, and sleep disorders impact us, specifically our when it comes to our sleeping position.
Let’s dig into each sleep position in more detail, including the benefits and downsides to each, which postures might be considered a “good” sleeping position versus a “bad” or “neutral” position, and any additional information sleepers can take away from each type.
Side sleepers are those that sleep with their body facing either to the left side or right side. This includes the fetal position (with legs tucked up towards the body) and the log position (with legs stretched out straight).
Sleeping on your side is one of the most popular sleeping positions. According to the Better Sleep Council, around 47% of sleepers prefer the fetal position.
While a side sleeping position has several benefits, there are also some downsides to this position.
Great for spinal alignment
Good for those experiencing back pain
A good option for those who snore or have sleep apnea
Ideal for those with acid reflux or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
The best sleep position for pregnant mothers
Good for digestion
Not good for those with shoulder pain
Can contribute to wrinkles
Sleeping on your side is a great option for those with back pain, those struggling with snoring or sleep apnea, acid reflux or GERD, and pregnant women.
Those who prefer this sleeping position should try to sleep with a loose posture to avoid stiffness or breathing difficulties (especially if sleeping in the fetal position).
A study of spontaneous sleep positions found that sleeping on the left side is considered ideal for those suffering from nighttime recumbent reflux, acid reflux, or GERD. The left side is also ideal if you are concerned about circulation and blood flow.
Pregnant women or those with back pain may find it especially useful to slip a body pillow under the knees for added support. We recommend Mellanni’s brand new, high-quality body pillow, which is the perfect size and fluffiness to increase comfort for those that prefer sleeping on their side.
Back sleeping is the second most popular sleeping position.
There are two common ways to sleep on your back -- either with your arms at your side (like a soldier) or with your arms up (also known as "the starfish").
Some consider sleeping on your back to be the best sleeping position, but for others, it can make sleeping more difficult and even dangerous.
Equally distributes body weight during sleep
Easiest position for spinal alignment
Best sleeping position for avoiding wrinkles
Helps relieve congestion from a cold or allergies
Can help ease knee, hip, or neck pain
Not good for those who snore or have obstructive sleep apnea
Those with acid reflux or GERD should avoid this position
Not the best option for pregnant individuals.
Sleeping on your back is a good option for keeping the spine straight during sleep. It is also the only sleep position that prevents sleep wrinkles on the face (given that your face does not directly come in contact with the pillow).
Those who prefer back sleeping may also consider slipping a small pillow under the knees to help with healthy spinal alignment. This helps maintain the natural curve of the spine and can relieve unnecessary pressure on the body.
According to a 2017 study on neck muscle activity, choosing the correct sleeping position can have a significant effect on pain. If you experience neck and shoulder pain during sleep, try sleeping on your back.
Having the proper pillow for your head and neck is essential for maintaining good sleeping posture in every position, but is especially important for back sleepers. That's where Mellanni's fluffy, yet firm premium bed pillow is a must-have if this is your preferred sleeping position.
Those that snore or suffer from sleep apnea should avoid sleeping on their back. Positional therapy (using a device to ensure you don't sleep on your back) may be necessary for those with these types of sleeping disorders.
Sleeping on your stomach is the least common sleep position. Many find stomach sleeping uncomfortable, or may wake up with aches and neck pains due to poor spinal alignment. Sleeping on the stomach can make back or neck pain worse.
There are a few cases when stomach sleeping is beneficial.
Good for those who snore or have sleep apnea
Some prefer this position and sleep more comfortably on the stomach
Often contributes to back and neck pain
Increases chances of wrinkles
Not a good option for pregnant individuals
If you are a stomach sleeper that manages to sleep deeply through the night without waking up with pain or discomfort, stomach sleeping may be the best position for you.
That said, many stomach sleepers experience neck, shoulder, and back pain due to poor spinal alignment during sleep. If this is the case, you should consider switching to a more beneficial sleeping position.
If you are an avid stomach sleeper and feel concerned about wrinkles, consider switching to a silk pillowcase. Silk creates less friction on the skin and can have anti-aging benefits. We recommend Mellanni's mulberry silk pillowcase.
For those that wish to transition from stomach sleeping to back or side sleeping, patience may be key. Changing our sleep habits usually does not happen in one night. Utilizing extra pillows can help train our bodies to stay put when transitioning from one sleep position to another.
What is the best sleep position?
At the end of the day, the best sleep position is that which you find most comfortable and that allows you to get the best quality sleep.
While sleeping with a side position may benefit a wide majority of sleepers, those with shoulder pain or who are concerned about wrinkles would certainly agree this position is not their favorite sleeping position.
Equally, sleeping on your back may be the best option for those that want to avoid wrinkles or that are aiming for the best body posture during sleep. Those that experience snoring, however, can agree that the back sleeping position is not ideal.
Sleeping on your stomach is the least popular sleeping position and some also consider it to be the worst option. That said, if stomach sleeping means getting a painless, deep night’s sleep, it may be the best position for you.
Try experimenting with different sleep positions to find the right one for you! If you find that your current sleeping position works, there’s absolutely no need to change. On the other hand, if you wake up feeling extra stiff, find yourself experiencing regular insomnia symptoms, or just can't seem to get comfortable, it may be time to re-examine.
What is the best sleeping position for back pain?
If you are experiencing back pain, most experts recommend a side sleeping position. Propping a thin pillow or rolled-up towel between your knees while on your side can help align your spine and relieve pressure.
Those with back pain as a result of a difficult night's sleep should consider if their sleeping environment is affecting their sleep quality. If you experience back pain constantly in the morning upon waking up, try to avoid sleeping on your stomach and be sure to check that your mattress is up-to-date.
Which sleep positions are best for snoring?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, 42% of men and 31% of women report snoring during the night. Snoring is caused by the relaxation of your airways during sleep.
Some sleepers experience position-dependent snoring. This can be helped by changing your sleep position. Sleeping on your side is the best option for those that snore (and also the best for your spine!) but sleeping on your stomach is also an option.
Loud snoring can indicate a health issue, such as obstructive sleep apnea. If you think you may suffer from loud or chronic snoring, speak with your doctor.
I'm concerned about wrinkles, what should I do?
Wrinkles are a natural sign of aging. Hoping to avoid wrinkles is also completely natural.
According to the aesthetic surgery journal, compression during sleep can contribute to signs of aging, including causing wrinkles.
If you are concerned with wrinkles, sleeping on your back is going to be your best option.
Remember that if you snore, suffer from sleep apnea, are pregnant, or experience acid reflux, sleeping on your back is not a viable solution for avoiding wrinkles. In these cases, investing in high-quality, soft bedding fabrics, such as silk, is your best solution.
Which sleeping position is the best for children?
Infant children should be placed on their backs for sleep. This significantly reduces the likelihood of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
As children grow up and begin sleeping in their own beds, they may begin to experiment with different positions. There is no best sleeping position for children. Since kids tend to have more flexibility than adults, you may find they can sleep in positions most adults would find extremely uncomfortable.
What is the best sleeping position for pregnancy?
Sleeping on your side is the best position for pregnant people. Side sleeping can help reduce pressure on the body, veins, and internal organs and is generally the most comfortable sleeping position for accommodating a growing belly.
If you are expecting, consider investing in a body pillow to help prop yourself up or find more comfortable positions during sleep.
Sleeping environment: why it's important
We've taken a look at the best sleeping positions, but sleeping well and waking up refreshed is more than just the position you chose. How well you sleep can also be affected by the quality of your sleeping environment. Having the right mattress, pillows, and bedding is just as important as deciding whether to opt for the fetal position or go for sleeping on your back.
Investing in a good mattress, pillows, and sheets is of the utmost importance, no matter which sleep posture you choose. Choosing the best sleep position on an unfit mattress is not likely to contribute to an ideal sleep.
The bottom line
Getting a good night’s sleep is the best thing you can do for yourself. As we move from childhood to adulthood, the way we configure our bodies during sleep becomes more and more important.
While some sleeping positions, such as back sleeping and side sleeping, tend to have more benefits for sleeping comfortably and pain-free, at the end of the day (no pun intended) it comes down to whichever sleeping position makes you feel the most comfortable -- barring any health concerns, that is.
No matter which sleeping position you choose, Mellanni’s got you covered with the most comfortable products on the market!
For the best head and neck support for any sleeping position, check out our fluffy, yet firm premium bed pillow.
Looking for a body pillow to help support you while you are sleeping on your side, back, or stomach? Our down alternative body pillow is perfect.
For avid side and stomach sleepers, our 100% momme silk pillowcase is a must-have.
An essential part of a good sleeping position is having a good mattress. That's where our microplush mattress pad comes in -- providing extra soft support to any mattress, making it easier to find your perfect, comfy position.