We acknowledge that it can be difficult to change the sleeping position your body has always been comfortable with.
If you work a desk job and sit for eight hours straight, your lower back may feel the need to be extended at the end of the day. Hence, the comfort and satisfaction that comes from the notorious sleep posture – stomach-sleeping.
But does this freefall position really guarantee restful sleep and overall wellness? What do healthcare experts say about it? Read along as we lay out the pros and cons of this sleep position.
Why It’s Not Good for You
Lower Back Strain
Since the middle part of your body carries the most weight, sleeping on your stomach exposes your lumbar area to stress. According to the Mayo Clinic, this places unnecessary strain on your lower back and may cause it to overextend itself.
Your neck is also at risk in this position. Unless you can sleep with minimal breathing, sleeping face-down on your pillow will never be an option. So in tilting your head to the right side or left side to grasp for air, you’re compromising a healthy neck position.
Bear in mind that any pain you feel at night can also disrupt your sleep. You don’t want to keep waking up to sore joints, and a painful back or neck, right?
THE GOOD NEWS: if you consider yourself to be a healthy adult who is not suffering from any chronic back pain, it can be okay to sleep on your stomach – at least maybe not for long periods that will eventually cause neck pain or shoulder pain.
Who likes aging? The high demand for cosmetology all over the world is a great indicator that we constantly want to look beautiful. The desire to look and feel young is undeniable. No one wants facial wrinkles.
When stomach sleepers have their head tilted to the left or right, their facial skin is either stretched, pulled, or compressed throughout the night. Side sleepers are definitely guilty of this too. Therefore, side sleeping or sleeping on your stomach can contribute to wrinkles no one ever wanted.
Even the best pillows may not be able to address this concern. It’s really about the cover. So for times you can’t avoid this posture, just at least make sure you have a silk pillowcase to trust so it won’t rub you the wrong way. Dryness, redness, acne, and sleep creases are all preventable with silk pillowcases.
Warning for Expectant Moms
Some moms-to-be are comfortable sleeping on their stomach, especially during their first trimester. However, this may not be the best sleeping position as the stomach grows. After all, “sleeping for two” demands as much quality rest as possible.
Pregnant women are actually recommended to sleep on their left side. It is vital to keep pressure off the liver and the vein that carries blood from the legs back to the heart. It also improves blood flow to the fetus, uterus, and kidneys. According to the 2012 medical studyTrusted Source, sleeping on your left side when you’re pregnant can increase healthy blood flow and provide the optimum oxygen levels for you and your baby.
Now if you’re so used to that position, here are a couple of things you could try to veer away from pain.
1. Use a Thin Pillow or No Pillows at All
Using a thick pillow will only push your neck upwards and extend it in an uncomfortable way, causing neck problems. Remember, you’re already tilting your head to the side – the last thing you want is more pressure on it with a thick pillow.
If you can’t go without a pillow, try sleeping on a thin one. It should help keep your neck relaxed and in line with your spine as much as it possibly can.
2. Prop a Thin Pillow under Your Belly or Pelvis
To avoid the heaviest part of your body from sinking too much into the mattress, try propping a thin pillow under your hips. It’s a good way to ensure that the lumbar area is not hyperextended.
3. Invest in a Firmer Mattress
If you’re in need of a long-term solution, a mattress in the firmer (medium-firm to firm) range is the answer. It performs the same function as if you had put a pillow under your hips – only much more natural and comfortable in feeling.
5. Stretch Your Back
It’s good to get in the habit of a gentle morning stretch with or without back pain. It can release some overnight stress from your lower back. Basic yoga positions such as the cat, cow, and child’s pose should suffice.
The Plus Side
There is a good side to sleeping on your stomach too: reducing snoring and sleep apnea. If you don’t have any back problems but have these instead, this position might actually work for you.
Make the Switch
Back sleepers got it all figured out. The goal is still to shift your go-to sleeping position to the back or side as it provides wondrous benefits to your sleep health. While it still depends on your own personal sleep preference and its effects on your body, back sleeping guarantees sleep quality as a generally preferred sleep position according to experts.
At least you can always gradually try the remedies above until you decide it’s time to move on from stomach-sleeping.
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