Over 7% of people in the US said that they sleep on their stomach exclusively and 15% said they frequently change to this position during the night.
It’s commonly assumed that sleeping on your stomach is bad for you. Most people will tell you that it leads to neck and back pain issues due to improper support and spine alignment. As a belly sleeper myself, I decided to do this research and to come up with the tips how you can prevent this issues and continue sleeping in your favorite position.
Why It’s Bad
It Puts Pressure On Your Spine
Front sleeping can be dangerous to your health because it puts pressure on your spine, and leads to issues such as backaches, in the long run. When stomach sleeping, you are losing sleep as your posture affects the amount and quality of sleep you get.
Is it a bad idea to sleep on your stomach? Research suggests that it is bad for you, due to the amount of pressure it can put on your back. Your back, especially your lower back, is the center of gravity for your body. Simply put, this means that most of your body weight is supported by the backbone. Thus, when this center of gravity is disrupted due to posture, it increases the stress on your body, which can result in lack of good quality sleep in the short run, and numbness, tingling or some other uncomfortable sensation in the long run.
Unnatural Position For Your Neck
Tummy sleeping causes as much disruption to the neck as it does the back bone-even more. Your neck muscles are critical for your nervous system to function properly. Front-side sleeping means you have to twist your neck to one side, to breathe properly since it is impossible to breathe through it. Thus, it not only provides a lack of support to the neck, but it also causes the alignment of the neck, and in turn, the spine to be affected. With prolonged use, it can cause severe damage to your cervical and your nervous system.
A very severe problem that people who sleep on their stomach face is a herniated disk. This problem occurs when the gelatinous disk between the spinal vertebrae is ruptured, and therefore leaks out, irritating the nerves. This issue can be very painful and can result in several surgeries in order to fix it.
It’s Dangerous During Pregnancy
Doctors recommend special care to be taken during pregnancy, even when it comes to your posture while walking, sitting, and even sleeping. The reason behind this is because sleeping in a bad position, such as front sleeping, can result in added pressure to the stomach. This prevents expecting mothers from feeling well rested and makes them more tired, which can cause several problems in the pregnancy and increase the risk to both the mother and the baby. This is one of the reasons why doctors sometimes suggest sleeping with a body pillow.
Moreover, pregnant belly sleepers need to take into account that it can be dangerous for the baby. As research suggests, sleeping on your back or your left side is best for the baby as it improves the blood flow, increasing the oxygen supply to the body, making it a better option for the mother and the baby. (Source)
Tips For For Better Belly Sleeping
While sleeping on your stomach is an unhealthy habit and should be corrected soon as possible, it is often tough for adults to refrain from it entirely. Therefore, it is a better idea to learn how to sleep on your stomach in a way that the least amount of side effects are incurred. Nonetheless, it is highly recommended that you should try to stop this practice altogether. For those who just cannot give up this position, here are three straightforward tips that can help you steer clear of all of its adverse effects.
Choose a thin pillow
Thin pillows can be helpful for this position. It helps prevent any issues to the neck, as a flatter pillow allows for a more natural state of rest. It should go without saying, but stomach sleepers should never use more than one pillow. The thinner your pillow is, the lower the angle your head rests on will be, making it more comfortable for you.
You can also choose not to use a pillow at all. Reducing the strain on the neck helps relieve the backbone and the shoulders. Subsequently, the usual complaint of tense neck and shoulder muscles of people sleeping on their tummies can be resolved.
Slightly raise your pelvis
Elevating your pelvic area is another great way to prevent back problems for stomach sleepers. This can be done by using a body pillow or simply by putting a pillow underneath your pelvis. Doing so can help reduce the pressure on your backbone, by giving it a more natural resting position, and making the muscles more relaxed. Since the head and the pelvic area will be at the same level, the position will mimic the way you would sleep without a pillow, thereby attaining the natural posture.
Choose a slightly firmer mattress
Firm mattresses are a great way to improve your sleeping posture and get better sleep, especially if you are a stomach sleeper. Firm mattresses are helpful because they can provide better support to the areas that need it. They also help all your muscles relax, and not be tense, inherently providing better quality sleep and making you feel well rested in the morning.
While doctors have been warning patients of back and joint pain regarding the evils of stomach sleeping, it is essential to understand precisely how it can harm you, and how to avoid such a situation.
The dangers may convince you to switch from stomach sleeping, but it can be hard to do so. Starting off by making sleeping on stomach more relaxing is the first step towards fixing your posture. Thus, this guide eases the journey for you to switch to your side or your back.
- Sleep Positioners: A Suffocation Risk – https://onsafety.cpsc.gov/blog/2010/09/29/sleep-positioners-a-suffocation-risk/
- Most Definitive Study of Its Kind Shows That Sleeping on the Stomach Increases Infant SIDS Risk – https://www.nichd.nih.gov/news/releases/Pages/infant_sids.aspx