Are you a stomach sleeper? If you are, then you’re in the 7% of people who do. It’s the least popular sleeping position, but why is it this low? We’ll discuss it below.
And if you’re also looking forward to some facts, pros and cons, and valuable insights, you need to read on below. Gathering the facts may help decrease your risk of developing chronic health conditions such as back and neck pain.
So to help you figure out whether sleeping on your stomach is bad, we’ve compiled these facts so you can get a better picture of your question. Read on!
Is It Bad to Sleep On Your Stomach?
Yes, sleeping on your stomach will increase your likelihood of experiencing chronic shoulder, neck, and back pain.
Why? It’s because continuous and constant pressure is applied to your shoulders, neck, and back. These body parts bear the weight of your upper extremities during sleep.
If you’re not a stomach sleeper and you’re considering sleeping this way, experiment to gauge the comfort level. Try resting on your stomach for 20-30 minutes. Observe if your body feels uncomfortable, especially in the regions mentioned.
If you experience discomfort, stomach sleeping is probably bad for you.
Skin problems, such as wrinkles and fine lines, also become more pronounced on your face as a stomach sleeper. This is because of the friction between your skin and bed/pillow, which causes your skin to lose elasticity over time, leading to wrinkles and fine lines.
Pregnant people should also avoid sleeping on their stomachs for various reasons. We’ll discuss it further below.
If you have experienced or are none of the above, continue reading down below to understand better if this sleeping position is suited to you.
Why Should Pregnant People Avoid Sleeping On Their Stomachs?
Pregnant people need to be aware of the stage of their pregnancy to see if they can sleep on their stomachs.
A woman in her early pregnancy stages (first trimester) can sleep on her stomach without a significant impact on her baby.
When a woman is beyond her first trimester, the baby bump rapidly rises, and stomach sleeping is highly discouraged. The weight and pressure of the woman’s body will put pressure on the baby bump, leading to internal pressure on the mother’s internal organs and spine.
Plus, sleeping on your stomach when you have a big baby bump is not comfy.
Pros & Cons Of Sleeping On Your Stomach?
Pros for sleeping on your stomach, according to studies, only have one benefit:
- Reduced symptoms of snoring for people with sleep apnea.
And as for the cons, there are numerous, namely:
- Increases risk of developing chronic shoulder, neck, and back pain.
- Not recommended for pregnant women beyond their first trimester.
- Makes your skin lose elasticity and develop wrinkles and fine lines.
- Can make lower back pain worse.
Are There Any Alternatives to Sleeping On Stomach?
Yes, you can either sleep on your side or by lying on your back and other sleeping position variations such as the fetal position (side) and combo sleeping, where you change sleep positions throughout the night.
However, people are different, so suitable sleeping positions vary from person to person. So it helps to find the best sleeping positions for you. For example, for people with lower back problems, experimenting with various sleeping positions are encouraged.
As for people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (or GERD, or simply acid reflux), the left side of the side sleeping position is the most recommended. Side sleeping is also recommended for soon-to-be moms beyond their first trimester.
How to Reduce Problems When Sleeping On Stomach?
If you’re comfy sleeping on your stomach and can’t sleep very well, sideways or on your back, there are a few ways to reduce pain when sleeping on your stomach.
Use a Thinner Pillow and a Firm Mattress
By using a thinner pillow and a firm mattress, the pressure on your spine is reduced as a stomach sleeper. The spine is aligned and level with your head.
If you have a thick pillow, your neck is elevated compared to your spine leading to a sore or stiff neck. And if you have a soft mattress, your body sinks into the mattress while your head and neck are upright—which also leads to problems in your shoulders and neck.
So consider using a thinner pillow and a firm mattress. If by chance, you wonder how firm a “firm mattress” is, your personal preferences will play a major role: if your body sinks too much in the mattress, it’s too soft. If your body becomes too stiff, the mattress is probably too firm.
Aim for a balance between softness and firmness while considering your personal preferences.
Place a Pillow Under Your Pelvic Area
Placing a pillow under your pelvic area while you sleep on your stomach is one of the best ways to prevent your lower back from becoming sore the moment you wake up.
Your pelvic area is a pressure point which has a lot of weight going through it when stomach sleeping. This is why stomach sleeperes experience lower back pain. That and the fact the spine is unnaturally stretched when sleeping on your stomach)
Placing a pillow helps reduce this pressure so you can wake up with lower instances of pelvic and back pain.
Stretch Before and Soon As You Wake Up
Stretching upon waking up is also one of the best countermeasures to prevent joint problems after sleeping on your stomach.
Stretching helps ensure your muscles are carefully stretched and warmed up, thus reducing the risk of injuries after sleep. Stretching also helps your bones reach their neutral positions, helping reduce injuries. Here’s a great video on stretching.
How Do I Stop Sleeping On My Stomach?
You can stop yourself from sleeping on your stomach by discouraging your body from doing so. Start on your back and use two large pillows by your side. This will force your body to sleep on your side or back.
And if you’re having a hard time transitioning to a healthier sleep position, consult a GP or a sleep medicine specialist for appropriate medical guidance. You can also consult a physical therapist for additional guidance.
By learning how to sleep on your back, you can eliminate some of the cons of stomach sleeping.
When Do I Have To Stop Sleeping On My Stomach?
As soon as possible.
Although if you’re comfy and don’t experience any setbacks for now, your body will probably experience the cons soon enough even if you rigorously followed the tips we’ve listed above. They’re not absolute anyway, and your body might still react differently.
Better to change sleeping positions as soonest as you can so you can prevent all sorts of neck, shoulder, back, or any sort of problems from coming your way.
Is Sleeping On Your Stomach Bad For Your Face?
Yes, stomach sleeping is bad for your face more than sleeping sideways. Sleeping on your stomach and sideways cause you to develop wrinkles because of the friction and pressure of your skin pressing against your pillow.
Aside from wrinkles, fine lines and facial creases become pronounced the more you try to sleep in the stomach position.
Sleeping Stomach Isn’t Recommended
In summary, sleeping on your stomach is bad as it gives you a host of problems such as:
- Chronic pain
- Developing wrinkles and fine lines
- Pregnancy issues for pregnant women,
- Increasing lower back pain
Now that you know the facts, the decision is yours to ponder about; will you make the switch or will you continue sleeping on your stomach? Whatever your decision is, we wish you good luck!
- Skarpsno ES, Mork PJ, Nilsen TIL, Holtermann A. Sleep positions and nocturnal body movements based on free-living accelerometer recordings: association with demographics, lifestyle, and insomnia symptoms. Nat Sci Sleep. 2017;9:267-275. Published 2017 Nov 1. doi:10.2147/NSS.S145777
- Cary D, Briffa K, McKenna L. Identifying relationships between sleep posture and non-specific spinal symptoms in adults: A scoping review. BMJ Open. 2019;9(6):e027633. Published 2019 Jun 28. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2018-027633
- Desouzart, Gustavo et al. ‘Effects of Sleeping Position on Back Pain in Physically Active Seniors: A Controlled Pilot Study’. 1 Jan. 2016 : 235 – 240.
- Goesel Anson, MD, FACS, Michael A.C. Kane, MD, Val Lambros, MD, FACS, Sleep Wrinkles: Facial Aging and Facial Distortion During Sleep, Aesthetic Surgery Journal, Volume 36, Issue 8, September 2016, Pages 931–940,
- Li, M., Thompson, J., Gordon, A., Raynes-Greenow, C., & Heazell, A. (n.d.). An Individual Participant Data Meta-analysis of Maternal Going-to-Sleep Position, Interactions with Fetal Vulnerability, and the Risk of Late Stillbirth. eClinical Medicine. Retrieved August 3, 2022, from
- Ravesloot MJ, van Maanen JP, Dun L, de Vries N. The undervalued potential of positional therapy in position-dependent snoring and obstructive sleep apnea-a review of the literature. Sleep Breath. 2013;17(1):39-49. doi:10.1007/s11325-012-0683-5
- Person E, Rife C, Freeman J, Clark A, Castell DO. A Novel Sleep Positioning Device Reduces Gastroesophageal Reflux: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2015;49(8):655-659. doi:10.1097/MCG.0000000000000359
- Jeon, M. Y., Jeong, H. C., Lee, S. W., Choi, W., Park, J. H., Tak, S. J., Choi, D. H., & Yim, J. (2014, July 9). Improving the quality of sleep with an optimal pillow: A randomized, comparative study. The Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine. Retrieved August 3, 2022, from
- Nagamatsu, T., & Kai, Y. (n.d.). Effect of low-intensity stretching exercises on sleep and stress in people with mild sleep disorders. ResearchGate. Retrieved August 2, 2022, from