Supine Sleep: How to Train Yourself to Sleep on Your Back

sleeping on back

Did you know that the quality of your sleep has a very strong connection with your sleeping position? Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all answer to the question—which is the best position?

However, supine sleep or the habit of sleeping on your back, hurts your sleep quality even if it seems like it helps some. 

Some pregnant women, for instance, cannot sleep on their back because it puts pressure on their stomach. Those who suffer from back pain also find it difficult to sleep this way. The same is true for individuals with sleep apnea.

If you fall under any of these categories, you might want to think about changing gears. And today we will help you with just that.

The Things You Can Try

Even if it is your go-to sleeping position, there are a few ways in which you can change the habit of falling asleep on your back.

In fact, some people can fall asleep on their back but at some point at night they are uncomfortable and they turn around which can be a problem.

This is particularly tricky for those who can’t sleep on their back but have been told to do so after, say, a surgery. 

In those difficult situations, this cheat sheet will come in handy.

Put a Pillow under Your Knees

Luckily, most of these solutions are actually pretty easy to implement. The first of our suggestions is to get an extra pillow and put it under your knees.

In this position, you must bend your knees a little bit so that you are comfortable. Don’t get a huge pillow for this exercise. A small one will do as long as it aligns your spine and neck.

You might have to try adjusting your pillows a bit till you achieve this position and once you do it should work.

Put Pillows around You

Our second suggestion is also to use pillows. Make yourself a little fort with a few pillows. This is particularly helpful for those who tend to toss and turn at night. Placing pillows all around your body will stop you from changing positions to sleeping on your stomach when you are asleep.

Ideally, the pillow should be around your torso or the midsection and your hips. But it might be an issue if you are sharing the bed with another person because it will take up space.

Put a Pillow under Your Lower Back

And finally, you can try putting a pillow under your lower back. You need to do this carefully so that the alignment of the spine does not get disturbed.

If you have back issues, talk to your doctor before trying this. Also, find out what kind of a pillow might work if you get permission to try this out.

And if you don’t have back problems, you should still make sure the pillow is of a small size so that it doesn’t cause any new back problems.

What Else Can You Do?

That’s not it. There are a few other things you can do to sleep on your back without compromising sleep quality. You need to start by working on sleep hygiene.

What is that?

Well, it is a set of habits that help an individual fall asleep and keep sleeping. They include:

  • Maintaining a proper schedule, which means going to bed and waking up at the same time.
  • Sleeping when you are sleepy.
  • Getting at least seven hours of sleep.
  • A relaxing routine before bed like reading or a warm bath.
  • Staying in bed only when you are sleeping or having sex.
  • Not staying in bed if it takes longer than 20 minutes to fall asleep.
  • Keeping the room relaxing, cool and quiet.
  • Staying away from electronics for at least half an hour before going to bed.
  • Staying away from caffeine late in the afternoon and evening.
  • Staying away from alcohol before going to sleep.
  • Maintaining an exercise routine.

Advantages of Sleeping on Your Back

There are many. And if you want to count, here’s a short list:

  • Your spine is aligned which is good for it. This will help with back pain because your body will be in a neutral position. This will keep you from twisting in the middle of the night, which often leads to back pain.
  • You won’t experience as many or any tension headaches. When your neck is not properly aligned, you can have headaches, even while you are asleep. One of those types of headaches is called cervicogenic headaches.
    As a result, you will end up waking up in the middle of the night with pain that goes from the back to all over your head, front to back.
  • There will be less compression and pressure which is good for chronic pain situations.
  • You won’t have as much sinus buildup.
  • There won’t be as many irritations, wrinkles or creases on your face. This is because when you press your face on the pillow, you will compress the face and this leads to visual signs of aging on your face.

    They are called sleep wrinkles. This is common among people who sleep on their side or the stomach.

By the way, if you want to reduce wrinkles, you might also try quitting smoking if that’s applicable. Don’t burn in the sun too much, eat well and moisturize your skin every day.

Wrapping Up

You might have thought of the right pillow, mattress and the environment in which you are sleeping. But sleep position is something people often think of only when they have back or neck problems. This is not just an old people thing.

Anyone who does not sleep on their back is sort of inviting trouble into their life. It affects the sleep quality, for one, which can already cause a lot of long-term problems.

But avoiding supine sleep can also lead to many of the other problems mentioned in this piece. Rolling over to your side, by the way, is also not good for your digestion. So, you might want to find ways of getting rid of this muscle memory.


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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