How do you like to sleep? On your stomach? On your side? Or maybe full-on starfish?
We all sleep differently. For some, this means dropping off and waking up in relatively the same position as you nodded off in. While for others, it means sleeping in lots of different positions throughout the night.
There are three main sleeping positions
Sleeping on your side is reportedly the most popular sleeping position.1 It can help in the snoring stakes too because when you sleep on your side, your airways are more open than if you sleep on your back.2
So, we’ve established the most popular sleeping position. What about the best sleeping positions?
Six of the best sleeping positions
The best sleeping position for back pain
Sleep position: Sleeping on your side.3
How it helps: Drawing your legs up slightly towards your chest and putting a pillow between your legs helps take the pressure off your back.
The best sleeping position for lower back pain
Sleep position: Lying on your back.4
How it helps: Putting a small pillow behind your knees provides additional support and helps maintain the natural curve of the spine.
The best sleeping position for neck pain
Sleep position: Sleeping on your side or your back.5
How it helps: If you sleep on your back, putting a rounded pillow that supports the natural curve of your neck provides much-needed support. If you sleep on your side, put a pillow that’s higher under your neck than your head to keep your neck in alignment.
The best sleeping position for digestion
Sleep position: On your left side.
How it helps: Your digestive juices work better if you lie on your left side because of the way your stomach’s shaped. Lying on the opposite side makes food particles and stomach acids spread out, potentially into your oesophagus, which can cause discomfort.6
The best sleeping position for your face
Sleep position: On your back.
How it helps: Your face isn’t being pressed into your pillow. What’s more, if you prop your head up with an extra pillow, it can help prevent the fluids that cause puffy eyes from building up.7
The best sleeping position for breathing
Sleep position: Sleeping on your side.
How it helps: Sleeping on your side allows your airways to remain more open. According to research carried out by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, almost 70% of people with sleep apnoea (when breathing stops and starts) breathe better when they’re not sleeping on their back.8
Which sleeping position are you?
We’ve explored why some sleeping positions are best for certain things, but which position defines your sleeping habits? Are you a:9
- Freefall sleeper – you lie on your stomach, with your head turned to one side and your arms under or wrapped around your pillow.
- Yearner sleeper – you lie on your side with your arms stretched right out in front of your body.
- Solider sleeper – you lie on your back with your arms and legs lying flat.
- Starfish sleeper – you lie on your back with your arms up near your head.
- Log sleeper – you lie on your side with your arms down by your sides. While this happens to be one of the most common sleeping position, it’s actually the most unpopular.10
We don’t always sleep the same way every single night either although we do tend to have one or two sleeping positions we always seem to instinctively lie in.11 Because of all of these different variables, there isn’t an overall best sleeping position, but we can choose the best positions based on our own sleep journeys.
For more sleep insight read, ‘12 things to help you sleep.’
Last updated: 18 August 2020