How to Change Sleeping Positions And Does It Really Affect Your Health

sleeping on back position

We spend a huge amount of our lives asleep so it’s only natural to want to promote healthy sleeping habits. Most of us don’t think twice before jumping into bed and dozing off. 

But, did you know that our sleeping positions play a major role in the quality and longevity of our sleep? 

It may be hard to believe but sleeping positions do affect the way we sleep in ways that are just now being understood by sleep scientists. Join us as we show you how to change your sleeping positions and dive into all of the associated benefits. 

The Benefits of Different Sleeping Positions 

Engaging in different sleep positions has several benefits including improved health, blood flow and the reduction of the chronic fatigue associated with conditions such as insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea. Switching your sleeping position can have drastic effects on the quality of your sleep and can aid better physical and mental health. 

We are inherently creatures of habit, so training yourself to sleep in new positions is imperative to your success when navigating new directions with your sleep. 

If this all sounds like a big ask, don’t worry, because you can gradually ease yourself into new positions. Keep reading below so you can find out how. 

The Best Sleeping Positions for Optimum Health 

  • Fetal Position 

This is the most popular type of sleeping position and borrows its namesake from the position that fetuses take in the womb. It’s an innate sleeping position that a lot of us naturally find ourselves in during the night. 

Sleeping in the fetal position comes with a host of benefits that include reducing lower back pain, alleviating snoring and the uncomfortable sleeping pains associated with pregnancy. 

There are however a few downsides to sleeping in the fetal position which can limit deep breathing during the night. A good way to counteract this symptom is by making sure that your posture isn’t strained and is relatively loose throughout the night. 

Extending your knees or putting your pillow between your legs is a good way to ensure a flexible sleep. It allows the body to circulate more oxygen around and gives overworked muscles and the lower back some much-needed respite. 

  • Sleeping On Your Side

Sleeping on your side is the second most common sleeping position and is thought to be extremely good for you. If you sleep on your left side it can work to counteract the negative effects of heartburn and can even reduce snoring. 

A recent study looked at ten people in two days. On day one, participants rested on their right side, having eaten a high-fat meal. On day two, they shifted to the left side. 

Whilst this was a minor study, researchers found that sleeping on the right side intensified heartburn and acid reflux, which implies it could be a good reason for changing sides at night.

Louise Cunningham from the University of Rochester Medical Centre, Sleep Sciences Divisions states in the online Health Encyclopedia that “sleeping on your stomach can create stress on the back because the spine can be put out of position…placing a flat pillow under the stomach and pelvis area can help to keep the spine in better alignment…if you sleep on your stomach, a pillow for your head should be flat, or sleep without a pillow”. 

  • Lying On Your Stomach 

You’ve probably heard of the old wise tales surrounding lying on your front and how it isn’t good for you. 

But, In this case, they are true, I’m afraid. Sleeping on your front is one of the worst positions that you can sleep in because of the associated back, neck and jaw pain. Some sufferers of sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or heavy snorers have recorded symptomatic improvements when lying on their stomachs but the limited studies we have don’t support this position for the average person. 

Another reason why lying on your stomach isn’t recommended is because it can cause problems with breathing. 

The weight of your body rests on your chest as you sleep and doing so for prolonged periods of time can cause a number of issues to arise such as breathing difficulties and chest pain. If you prefer sleeping on your front and have no issues when doing so, placing a pillow under the lower below can help to lessen pain. 

  • Flat On Your Back 

This position offers the most scientifically substantiated health benefits. Whilst it might not be good for certain groups, such as people with sleep disorders, it’s been proven time and time again to promote spine health and can also reduce hip and knee pain. 

Doctors from the Cleveland Clinic explain that sleeping on your back uses gravity to keep your body in straight alignment with your spine. This can help to drastically reduce any unnecessary pressure on your back or joints. A pillow behind your knees may help support the natural curve of the back. 

Lastly, for those self-conscious types out there, lying flat on your back reduces gravity-induced wrinkles because your face isn’t being pulled down or moulded into your pillow. 


One-third of our entire lifetime is spent sleeping. People lead busy lives and unintentionally neglect their sleeping habits because they’ve become so accustomed to living fast-paced lifestyles. 

More attention, effort and education needs to be given to support modern sleep practices. Taking back control and utilising sleep for our health is the best way that we can promote prosperity. 

Sleeping correctly is not something that you learn in school or from your parents, it’s something that we instinctively understand. But, it’s always a good idea to research the scientific benefits and attributes associated with different sleeping positions. 

Doing so will ensure that you are fulfilling important functions to promote your body’s health, especially when sleeping. Sleeping allows the body to naturally regenerate vital body cells and replenish them. A positive sleeping habit and sound knowledge of the correct position for your body will guarantee a healthier sleep. 



Dan was diagnosed with sleep apnea in 2017 when he was only 32 years old. He has been using a BIPAP machine for his treatment. He hopes to provide a patient's perspective on the sleep apnea experience. Dan lives in Tampa with his girlfriend and 2 dogs.

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