While we sleep, our bodies work hard to restore and repair themselves – and the position you sleep in can help or hinder this process. So, it’s worth knowing which position could be most beneficial for you.

Personal preferences aside, a good sleeping position is one that supports the spine’s natural curvature.

If you’re currently struggling with pain, injury, health issues, or find it difficult to fall asleep, you may benefit from switching up your sleeping position.

With that said, here are four different sleeping positions; what they’re good for, when they should be avoided, and how to modify them.

What makes a good sleeping position?

What makes a good sleeping position?

The best sleeping position is one that supports the spine’s natural curvature – from the hips all the way to the head.

What this looks like can vary from person to person depending on personal health and preference, but generally speaking, there are some sleeping positions which are naturally healthier.

For example, sleeping on your back or side is considered to be better than sleeping on your stomach, because it’s easier to keep the spine supported and balanced. This reduces pressure on spinal tissues and allows muscles to relax and recover overnight.

Although, if you feel comfortable sleeping on your stomach and wake up feeling rested, there’s no reason to feel that you should change your sleeping position. It’s important to do what feels best for you.

What are the best and worst sleeping positions?

1. Fetal position

Fetal position

The fetal position is the most popular and widely used sleeping position.

To get into this position, carefully roll onto one side, place a pillow under your head and neck, and bring your knees towards your chest until your back is relatively straight.

The fetal position is particularly beneficial for relieving lower back pain, reducing snoring, and feeling more comfortable during pregnancy.

It’s important to make sure that your posture remains fairly loose in the fetal position. Otherwise, it has the potential to limit deep breathing and can leave you feeling sore in the morning – particularly if you suffer from joint pain or stiffness.

If you’re struggling to feel comfortable in the fetal position, you might like to try placing a pillow in between your knees. This can help to align your hips, pelvis, and spine.

2. Sleeping on your stomach

Sleeping on your stomach

Not many people are likely to rank lying on their stomach as one of the most comfortable sleeping positions.

While it can be a good position for preventing snoring and sleep apnea, the benefits don’t stretch much further than that.

Unfortunately, sleeping on your stomach can cause a lot of unnecessary strain on your muscles and joints, potentially causing neck, jaw, and back pain. If you’ve been waking up from lying on your front a bit sore and tired recently, this could be why.

Research shows that sleeping on your stomach can also worsen symptoms of temporomandibular joint syndrome because it encourages teeth grinding and increases pressure on the head, neck, and jaw.

However, if you enjoy sleeping on your stomach, there are ways to modify the position to help with reducing any potential downsides. This includes sleeping with a thinner pillow (or no pillow at all) to limit any stress on your neck, and placing a pillow underneath the lower stomach to help reduce back pain.

3. Lying flat on your back

Lying flat on your back

Lying flat on your back is generally the healthiest sleeping position. It protects the spine by keeping it aligned, and can also help to reduce unnecessary pressure on joints.

However, lying on your back isn’t recommended for anyone who struggles with snoring or sleep apnea. It can also be uncomfortable if you have back pain.

In terms of modifications, placing a pillow underneath your knees can help back pain by supporting your back’s natural curve. Equally, propping yourself up with another pillow can help make breathing easier if you’re congested or struggle with snoring.

4. Sleeping on your side

Sleeping on your side

Research has found that sleeping on your side can offer a number of health benefits. This includes reduced snoring, improved digestion, and even a reduced risk of certain health conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.

Side sleeping is different from the fetal position because the knees aren’t tucked up.

Interestingly, research suggests that sleeping on your left side is particularly beneficial. This study found that when people slept on their right side it significantly increased acid reflux and heartburn symptoms.

That said, side sleeping isn’t right for everyone as it can sometimes cause stiffness in the shoulders and jaw.

If you enjoy sleeping on your side, you might like to try placing a pillow between your knees to help with hip alignment.

It’s also important to invest in a good quality pillow to reduce the risk of neck and back pain. Check out our article, 7 tips to help you choose the right pillow, for more information.

Final thoughts…

Different sleeping positions suit different needs. So if you’ve been struggling to sleep or have woken up feeling unrested or sore recently, it might be worth experimenting with a new position.

Though, if you’re not having any sleep issues, there’s no reason to change your position – you should do what feels best for you. The key thing is that you’re waking up feeling well-rested and full of energy to face the day.

For further tips on getting a good night’s rest, head over to the sleep and fatigue section of our website. Here you’ll find everything from how to design the perfect bedroom for sleep to ways to beat insomnia.

What’s your favourite sleeping position and why? We’d be interested to hear from you in the comments below.