Last updated on March 13th, 2019

The Best Sleeping Posture

Sleeping posture example

Are you a stomach, side or back sleeper, or an “all over the place sleeper”? This article is to help you understand the best sleeping positions by looking at the most common ways of laying in bed and their impact on your body. Sleeping accounts for 1/3 of our life and is the longest “activity” in which we engage. It can account for many health care problems and getting enough sleep is the source of stress for a lot of people. Ever wonder, what is the right amount of sleep? According to the Sleep Foundation, an adult is recommended to get a minimum of 7–8 hours of sleep per night to maintain optimum body functions and health(1-3). To achieve the right amount sleep one of the main factors is making sure you are comfortable by finding the best sleeping position.

Article Summary

  • Best Sleeping Position
  • The Stomach Sleeper
  • The Side Sleeper
  • The Back Sleeper
  • The “I’m All Over the Place”
  • Conclusion: What is the Best Sleeping Posture?

Best Sleeping Position

The best sleeping posture is one that puts the body in the most supportive and relaxed position. Typically the more supportive sleep posture, the better quality sleep you will have. I find the back sleeper with the right pillow set up will give you the most support and still keep you in a natural relaxed body position. These are four of most common sleeping postures and their pros and cons.

The Stomach Sleeper

Perhaps the worst position to be in is surprisingly one of the more commonly used. Stomach sleepers will tell me that they feel secure and can’t sleep any other way but to sleep on their stomachs with their heads turned to one side or the other. It is not surprising that at some point they will wake with stiff necks and not know why. This position provides no support for the neck, straining the joints and creating compression which results in swelling, tight muscles and pain. If you must sleep on your stomach read the article below on best pillow for stomach sleepers.

The Side Sleeper

Sleeping on your side, if done correctly, can be a good option. Position a pillow that is under your head, filling in the gap that is created between the point of your shoulder and you’re head. Most standard size pillows are too small to fill in the gap so I recommend either doubling up or, if you have very wide shoulders, use a decorative pillow from the couch that is slightly bigger than the gap so when you sleep on it, the pillow compresses down to a supportive size.

The Back Sleeper

Definitely one of my preferred positions. Like the side sleeper you need to use support but instead of placing the pillow under your head, place it under your neck. There are many special “orthopedic pillows” on the market that you can find. Just be sure to find one that gives resistance under the neck and allows the head to rest back. Check out our article below on best pillows for back sleepers

In addition, for some a pillow under the knees can be helpful if you suffer from low back problems but keep in mind this may shorten the torso flexor muscles of the body and create more low back trouble. It would be best to use pillows in this way if lying flat is uncomfortable and no other solutions are available.

The “I’m All Over The Place”

The favorite for those who toss and turn or sleep so deeply they wake up in a different position every night. My suggestion for this is to work with a healthcare practitioner to evaluate for possible physiological conditions that may be a full or partial cause. Conditions can range from emotional stress to sleep apnea or even an old unsupportive bed.

Conclusion: What’s The Best Sleeping Posture?

Find a position that puts the body in the most supportive and relaxed position. As I stated before the back sleeper with the right pillow set up will give you the most support and still keep you in a natural relaxed body position.

It’s important to note that an unhealthy standing posture typically causes a person to accommodate their sleeping position in an unhealthy way in order to find comfort. I find that the better someone’s standing posture is the more likely they will be a back sleeper.

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(3) 2019 Mar 5

Dr. Paul Paez, DC, NRT, NET, CMT

National Board Certified Doctor of Chiropractic (DC), trained in clinical nutrition (NRT), neuro-emotional release (NET), and Massage Therapy (CMT). Dr. Paul holds the rare triple distinction of Certified Posture Expert, Certified Posture Neurologist and Certified Posture Ergonomist by the American Posture Institute. Posture Possible is the very best resource for posture information.