How to choose the best sleep position - and the worst one for your body

·Features and Health Editor
·4-min read

Did you know that how you sleep at night - whether that's on your back, side, or stomach - can actually impact the quality of the shut-eye you do get?

And there is one sleeping position that is probably worse for your body than the others, with sleeping on your back coming out on top for a whole bunch of different reasons.

Woman stretching in bed after waking up
Your sleeping position impacts the quality of your shuteye. Photo: Getty

Gary Ginsberg, founder of Wowbeds, explains are three main sleep positions our bodies naturally fall into, and the best one for you differs between each sleeper.

A pregnant woman may need to sleep on her left side, while an older person may prefer sleeping supine to relieve back pain.


So how do you know what's best for you? Here, Gary shares with Yahoo Lifestyle why finding your sleeping match matters and the pros and cons of each.

Back Sleepers

"Lying on your back (or supine to be technical) is the optimal sleeping choice for natural spine support. It can reduce chronic pain, allergy symptoms and even fine lines and wrinkles forming on your face. There are two main versions of sleeping supine, these are the soldier, where your legs are straight and arms by your side, and the starfish, where your limbs are out in all different directions.

While back sleeping is a physically supportive option for many, there are a few factors that might benefit more than others. For those who suffer from back pain, it will relieve discomfort - placing a pillow underneath the knees will also eliminate any gaps between your lower back and the mattress. Sleeping supine can also help to reduce neck pains or aching, and help with allergies or nasal congestion. The golden rule for sleeping on your back is to stay symmetrical and avoid placing your arms in different positions, which may affect spine alignment.

As for who should avoid sleeping on their back, women who are pregnant and those who suffer from sleep apnea, snoring or acid reflux."

woman sleeping on her side
Sleeping on your side can reduce pains and sleep-disturbing behaviours such as snoring. Photo: Getty

Side Sleepers

"Sleeping on your side can reduce pains and sleep-disturbing behaviours such as snoring. There are three common postures for sleeping on your side: left versus right, curled-up foetal position and yearner - with your arms extended in front of you.

When it comes to the benefits, side sleeping takes the cake and is ideal for pregnant women, those who suffer acid reflux at night, some forms of back pain - just make sure to tuck a pillow between your knees for proper spine alignment and snorers, as it relieves the pressure within nasal cavities and airways. Universally-appealing, yes. But those who suffer from shoulder pain, jaw tightness or are concerned about face wrinkles, try to keep it on the back."

Stomach Sleepers

"Unfortunately, sleeping on your stomach has more cons than pros. This position has poor spine support and can throw your body out of alignment. With your hips and stomach sunken into the mattress, the spine stretches into an unnatural placement.

Stomach sleepers can also suffer from neck misalignment due to having to position their head ninety degrees to the left or right, in addition to facial wrinkling due to placing heavy pressure on the face. However, if you struggle to let go of sleeping stomach-down, opt for a firm mattress and thinner pillow.

Top back view portrait of sleepy woman lying on stomach wearing pants singlet tired after hard day
Sleeping on your stomach has more cons than pros. Photo: Getty

"Having good sleep hygiene takes a bit of practice, however it is possible to retain yourself and switch up a new position, it just comes down to testing what feels right for you and your body. Some handy tips to assist in mixing up your slumber include props - such as pillows to prevent you from rolling, and claiming the space you need. Make sure your bed size is large enough for all sleepers to rest in any position.

Most importantly, having quality bedding is paramount. The right mattress, pillow, and support can make all the difference in sleep. Back and stomach sleepers often need firmer mattresses, while side sleepers need more cushion. Similarly, back and side sleepers may need a more structured pillow for support, while stomach sleepers need a thinner pillow to minimise neck pain."

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