Sleep is a personal thing, and only you can determine which position you feel most comfortable sleeping in. It’s probably no surprise that your sleep position can affect the quality of your sleep, but you may be surprised that it can actually have some effects in other areas of your life. Your sleep position can cause back and neck pain, heartburn, even wrinkles and breast sag, if the posture is poor.
Like any other sleep position, you may be curious if you are doing your body right by sleeping on your stomach or not. Is it a bad thing to sleep on your stomach? The short answer is “yes”. Although sleeping on your stomach can reduce snoring and diminish sleep apnea, it can be very demanding for your back and neck.
If you prefer sleeping on your stomach, then you may know that there are some pros and cons to sleeping in that position, and in this post we would be talking about the cons of sleeping on your stomach.
Disadvantages of Sleeping on Your Stomach
SIeeping on your stomach is comfortable for sure, but it is aIso bad for your heaIth and sometimes even dangerous. And here’s why:
1. Strains Your Spine
Your spine is forced to straighten when you’re sleeping on your stomach, and it results in lower back pain. Normally, your spine has a natural curvature that is forced out of alignment when you sleep on your stomach.
The spine is the main pipeline of all your nerves, so spinal stress can lead to pain and numbness in different parts of the body. You may experience muscle stiffness, back, neck, or joint aches due to a strained spine.
2. Neck Issues.
Unless you turn your head to your left or right side, it is usually difficult to breathe in the stomach sleeping position. This constant strain on your neck causes many neck and postural issues. That feeling that you get in your neck when you sleep wrong and find it hard to move your head in any direction is a result of this type of sleep posture.
3. Aggravates Pains for Pregnant women
If you sleep on your stomach while pregnant, you are crowding organs and skeletal structures. Not to mention, making it super cramped and uncomfortable for your baby. You should know that if you are pregnant, sleeping on your stomach is terrible.
During pregnancy, you are prone to experiencing back pain due to hormonal changes. The stomach sleeping position increases this pain. It’s difficult to sleep on your stomach in the later stages of pregnancy but even in the earlier stages, it’s better to avoid this position. The extra weight around the abdomen region increases the pull on your spine, aggravating existing pain.
According to a medical study, turning to the left side is the best sleeping position for pregnant women. It promotes blood flow, increasing oxygen levels both for mom and baby. Side sleeping also allows more room for your baby to grow.
4. Numbness and Stiffness.
People that sleep on their stomach tend to have an increased risk of waking up stiff and numb. Your blood can’t circulate as well as in other sleeping positions, and this causes pooling, which leads to the numb feeling that you get when you stay in one place too long.
Another bad thing about sIeeping on your stomach is that your chest gets compressed, which makes breathing Iess efficient. You wouIdn’t get enough oxygen throughout your body and wouId feeI tired and groggy in the morning.
Stiffness is a common problem in many lower back pain sufferers. If you already have back pain, sleeping on your stomach intensifies your pain, so you should avoid it.
5. Skin Wrinkles
When you sleep on your stomach with your head to one side or the other, pressure is applied to that side of your face for hours at a time, causing your skin to bunch and wrinkle over time. Younger individuals tend not to see the effects so much due to higher levels of collagen in their skin, but years of stomach-sleeping could cause permanent wrinkles.
Tips For Babies
Stomach-sleeping is not recommended for infants, because it puts them at a higher risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). For the first few months of their life, infants will need to be positioned in their crib when they sleep until they are able to shift postures on their own. Newborns should be placed flat on their back on a firm surface to sleep.
Tips for Sleeping on your Stomach
So what if you never had an idea of this before and you have slept on your stomach all your life, and despite warnings, you just cannot get sleep any other way ? Here are some pro tips that might help you avoid the potential complications :
- Use no pillow at all or at the highest, use a thin pillow. The flatter the pillow, the less angled your head and neck.
- Put a pillow under your pelvis. This will help keep your back in a more neutral position and take the pressure off your spine.
- Stretch in the mornings. A few minutes of stretching will help get your body back in alignment and gently strengthen your supporting muscles. Try to warm up with a little movement before stretching, and be gentle while at it!
Basically, stomach sleeping has only one advantage over back sleeping. Sleeping on your stomach can reduce the risk of snoring and sleep apnea, but its many complications far outweigh this one benefit. Sleeping on your stomach disturbs your spine’s neutral position. It causes back, neck, joint, and shoulder pain. Stomach sleeping can worsen existing pain in those with lower back problems as well as pregnant women. It is also important to mention that pregnant women should avoid sleeping on their stomach after the first trimester.
It is best to choose another sleep position if you are used to sleeping on your stomach.