Expert explains why you should never sleep on your front

When you sleep, what position do you normally sleep in? Are you a back sleeper, or a side sleeper? If you sleep on your side, do you prefer left or right? Or maybe you’re a front sleeper; the only way you can fall asleep is to position yourself on your stomach. If you’re the latter, you may want to reconsider your go-to position. Experts say that sleeping this way night after night, you could be damaging your neck and spine.

Why You Maybe Shouldn’t Sleep On Your Stomach

Long have people debated whether or not sleeping on your stomach is bad for your body. After all, sleeping on your back certainly has its drawbacks, including sleep apnea and snoring. Experts say, however, that stomach sleepers are risking neck and spine problems by spending hours each night in this position. (1)

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The Spine

The primary issue with sleeping on your stomach is that the majority of your weight is centered in the middle of your body. This puts strain on your spine and also makes it nearly impossible to maintain a neutral spine position throughout the night. For this reason stomach sleepers tend to experience more back pain or pain in other areas than back sleepers. The spine is an important part of the skeletal system and affects the rest of your body. Stress on the spine, or malalignment, can cause pain and discomfort in other areas. Tingling and numbness because other parts of the body have fallen asleep are also a common issue. All of this can cause you to wake up and/or get a poorer quality of sleep.

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The Neck

Naturally, if you’re sleeping on your stomach, you have to turn your head to either the left or the right in order to breathe. This means that your neck, which is just the top extension of your spinal cord, has to twist. Again, this throws off the natural alignment. The least of these is unwanted neck pain. The worst could be a herniated disk. 

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Wrinkles

Not a health concern, but a concern for many people. Sleeping on your stomach means that one side of your face is on the pillow at all times. This presses, pulls, and stretches at your skin. Doing this every single night can eventually cause you to develop more wrinkles on your face. Avoiding unwanted wrinkles might just be the best motivation for many people who wish to maintain a younger appearance as long as possible. (2)

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Pregnancy

Naturally, sleeping on your stomach late in pregnancy is a laughable suggestion. Early-on, however, it is also not a good idea. For your own body, the extra weight in your middle will only pull on your spine more. Your baby also will be better off if you sleep on your back or your side. This way, they won’t be competing for space with your mattress. 

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What To Do If You Are A Devote Stomach Sleeper

Those with snoring problems or sleep apnea know that sleeping on their back is not an option – especially if they share a room with someone else. If you are someone who has slept on your stomach your whole life and struggles to fall asleep any other way, there are options to help make the position better for your body. The first of these is to not use a pillow, or if you do use one, use a thin one. This will help your neck stay in a better position.
Next, put a pillow underneath your pelvis. This will support your pelvis and spine by keeping your spine in a more neutral position.
Finally, when you wake up in the morning, stretch. Even just a few minutes of stretching evenly both sides of your body can help to realign your spine after a night on your stomach. Be sure to stretch slowly and gently to warm up your body. Stretching too big or hard right after you get out of bed can mean you end up pulling or harming a muscle.

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Variety Is Key

Many experts suggest that variety is not just the spice of life, but also the key to healthy sleeping. They equate to factory workers or athletes who do the same repetitive motions over and over again. These people are at higher risk of overuse injuries. The same can happen when you sleep in the same position night after night for years on end.

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“Your body likes variety,” says chiropractor Andrew Bang, DC. “For example, if you doze off while you’re on your back, you should switch from one side to the other during the night.” (3)

If you are a stomach sleeper reading this, take this as your hint to make a change. It will be better for your long term health and longevity.

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Sources

  1. Tips for sleeping on your stomach.” Healthline. Elea Carey. September 29, 2018.
  2. Sleeping On Your Stomach – Is it Bad for You?Sleep Foundation. Sarah Shoen. April 14, 2022.
  3. Back, Side or Stomach: Which Sleep Position Is Best for You?Cleveland Clinic. January 18, 2021.
Julie Hambleton
Freelance Writer
Julie Hambleton has a BSc in Food and Nutrition from the Western University, Canada, is a former certified personal trainer and a competitive runner. Julie loves food, culture, and health, and enjoys sharing her knowledge to help others make positive changes and live healthier lives.
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