Is It Unhealthy to Sleep on Your Stomach?
Research shows that around 16% of the population sleep on their backs. Many find it more comfortable, or comforting. For most of these stomach sleepers, it’s a habit. They’ve slept on their stomachs for so long that it’s natural.
Often, when we fall into habits with our sleep positions, they become tough to break. Even if you try to sleep in a different position, you might spend the night tossing and turning, until eventually, you settle back on your stomach for the night, and after a long busy day, it’s hard to give much thought at all to how you sleep, as long as you sleep.
But, is sleeping on your stomach healthy? The short answer is, no, it isn’t. Sleeping on your stomach can put excess pressure on your hips, abdomen, and neck. It can also lead to back and shoulder pain, make it harder to breathe, and is particularly dangerous for pregnant women. Here are some causes from sleeping on your stomach and how to mitigate the effects.
Regularly sleeping on your stomach can cause long-term neck pain and misalignment. Sleeping on your stomach inhibits your ability to breathe unless you turn your head to one side. This means that you spend the night with your neck twisted and your neck out of alignment.
To begin with, you may notice the occasional neck pain or stiffness in the mornings. But, over time, you could even find yourself with permanent neck damage and constant pain. In the worst cases, you might experience a herniated disk.
Sleeping on your stomach pushes your spine into an unnatural position and puts excess pressure on the joints that support it, such as your hips. This can lead to poor posture, pain, swelling, and even numbness and tingling.
Dangerous in Pregnancy
Sleeping on your stomach during pregnancy isn’t dangerous for the baby, but it can be exceptionally uncomfortable for the mother.
While you are pregnant, there’s much more weight on your stomach than usual, this makes lying on it uncomfortable, but it also means that your spine is pulled further out of alignment by the extra weight.
Most doctors advise women to sleep on their left side after around 16 weeks to promote healthy blood flow. The best thing would be to break the habit of lying on your stomach long before pregnancy.
How to Mitigate Stomach Sleeping Problems
So, how can you reduce the damage stomach-sleeping can cause?
Shift Your Position
It’s much easier said than done to shift your position, but it can be done. When you get into bed, make a conscious effort to stay on your back, or side. If you wake during the night to find that you have moved back on to your stomach, correct your position and roll onto your back.
This might feel unnatural to start with, and you may find it hard to drift off to sleep. But, over time, it will become more natural, and soon you won’t even have to think about it.
Keep Legs Flat and Equal
If you really struggle to sleep on your back, at least try to ease the position by keeping your legs flat, even when lying on your stomach. Avoid using pillows, or lying with one leg on its side or raised as this will twist your spine.
Before you get into bed, and right after you wake up, you can spend some time stretching out your spine, your neck, and shoulders. A simple yoga routine could help to push your pelvis back too.
Use a Pillow to Prop Your Pelvis
Pushing your pelvis down into the mattress can lead to uneven weight distribution. Using a pillow to prop up your pelvis can even things out, reducing pressure and misalignment.
While you may be able to mitigate the effects of sleeping on your stomach with stretches, exercises, and pillows to prop up your pelvis, the best thing that you can do is make permanent changes to your sleeping position. Investing in a high-quality custom-made mattress from Tochta can help. By sleeping on a foam mattress that offers the right level of support, even stomach sleepers can get a better and healthier night’s sleep.