The Ultimate Guide to Sleeping Positions


If you’re like most people, then you’re always on the hunt for new ways to improve your quality of sleep. After all, there’s nothing better than waking up refreshed and rested. What many people don’t realize is how much their sleeping position affects their mobility and quality of rest. 


Each person differs in terms of their preferred sleeping position — whether it's on their stomach,  flat on their back, or curled up in the fetal position. If you want to improve your health and well-being, it's essential to understand the pros and cons of each sleeping position before getting into bed each night. Here’s what you should know. 

Sleeping on Your Side

Many people are most comfortable sleeping on their side with their hip and shoulder directly on the mattress. There are many ways to sleep on your side, which includes the fetal position or as a log with your arms down and close to your body. Others may prefer to sleep with their arms stretched in front of them. Adults who need more support may curl up on their side while embracing a few pillows. 


Fortunately, this position is gentle on the neck compared to sleeping on your stomach, but it can still apply too much pressure to your arms and legs. In some cases, it can even lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Fortunately, modifying how you sleep on your side can protect yourself from developing any pain or ailments over time. 


Pro Tip: Begin by sleeping with your arms on your side or with a pillow between your legs to prevent excess strain on your back.

Sleeping in the Fetal Position

Most people often favor the fetal position because it's what they became accustomed to in the womb. The position means spending time on your side with your legs curled up, which can be comforting and make you feel safe. Approximately 41 percent of people spend the most time in this position as they sleep. 


The fetal position causes the least sleep interruptions and can allow you to feel more rested in the morning. Unfortunately, if you don't have a quality pillow or mattress, it can lead to strain on the back and neck. Many medical professionals recommend the fetal position for pregnant women because it increases circulation and prevents the uterus from pressing against the liver.


Pro Tip: Waking up with aches and pains? Try tucking your chin and pulling in your knees. Then, place a pillow between your knees to lessen the strain on your hips. 

Sleeping on Your Stomach

Sleeping on your stomach may make it easy to fall into a deep slumber, but it's one of the worst positions to stay in throughout the night. Sleeping on the stomach is extremely taxing on the back and neck. Those who are pregnant can also put their baby at risk by sleeping on their tummy. On the plus side, sleeping on your stomach can help with snoring and sleep apnea since it helps keep your airways open. 


Experts suggest that the spine can be affected by this position because all of the weight centered in the middle of the body. Not only will you likely wake up with a few aches and pains, but putting stress on the spine can begin to affect other parts of the body over time. You may start to experience joint pain as well as numbness, which can be debilitating in extreme cases. This sleeping position can also cause herniated discs because the head is turned for several hours each night and causes the spine to move out of alignment.


Pro Tip: If switching positions is out of the question, then opt for a thinner pillow to avoid pushing your neck out of alignment while you sleep. You can also put a pillow under your pelvis to take some stress off your spine. 

Sleeping on Your Back

Sleeping on the back is known to be one of the best positions because it prevents excess pressure or weight from being applied to your neck and back. It also allows the spine to stay in alignment and leaves the neck in a neutral position. 


There are still a few drawbacks, which include an increase in snoring and a heightened risk for sleep apnea. The position can also cause the back of the tongue to collapse into the airway, which can make it difficult to breathe and cause the individual to snore. If you already suffer from sleep apnea, it's better to switch to a side sleeping position. It’s also worth noting that back sleeping is not the best position if you have GERD or heartburn. 


Pro Tip: Place a pillow under your knees. This simple step will help you avoid lower back pain since it will help support the natural curve of your spine. 

Sleeping in an Upright Position

While most people only associate sleeping in an upright position with traveling, there are some other potential benefits to this type of sleep. Sleeping upright can be beneficial for those who suffer from allergies or neck pain. Sitting up as you sleep can also improve digestion and alleviate any congestion that you may experience. While upright sleeping shouldn’t be your go-to position, it can certainly provide some benefits and restful sleep when you need it.


Pro Tip: Make it a point to use a memory foam travel pillow if you plan to sleep in the car or on a plane for better support that allows you to fall into a deep sleep and avoid waking up with aches or pains.

Final Thoughts

Understanding how your sleeping position can affect different parts of the body will allow you to decide which one is right for you. Although a specific position may be most comfortable, it can affect how rested you feel in the morning and your level of flexibility while performing different types of activities. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to your body. You never know — maybe one of these positions is a better way to sleep. 


Sleep is essential to a healthy life, and Travelrest is here to help you get plenty of sleep while on the go. Check out our collection of travel pillows and accessories and enjoy better sleep. 



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