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Back vs stomach: Let’s find out the best sleeping position

Published on:27 April 2021, 14:48pm IST
Be it on the back or stomach, the right sleeping position for you can help with staying healthy and sleeping comfortably.
Grace Bains
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Both the positions have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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While sleep cycles may constantly be affected for a variety of reasons, a desirous sleeping position is perhaps a pretty consistent feature of your sleep routine. Unfortunately, sleeping in one position for longer durations can cause health problems, ranging from body aches to sleep apnea. Most people either sleep on their back or on their stomach and variations if any are centred around these two basic positions. While one must figure out what works best for them through trial and error, both these basic positions have their pros and cons.

Sleeping on your stomach

This slumber pose may make you more likely to be restless and toss and turn to get comfortable. Also, it can strain your spine, neck, shoulders and lower back. In case of heartburn or acidity, lying flat on your stomach can cause symptoms to flare up as acid from the stomach may flow up your oesophagus when you’re lying down. Sleeping on the stomach is also associated with the development of premature wrinkles from pressing the face against the pillow for long durations.

As per a research published by the National Library of Medicine, sleeping on the stomach can cause the respiratory movements of the rib cage to require more energy because of the need to elevate the body against gravity, hence, infants, pregnant women and elderly adults are advised to avoid sleeping on their stomach because of extra effort required for breathing and lack of flexibility in the spinal cord due to sleeping in this position. Therefore, though sleeping on the stomach has many drawbacks, the two areas where this position is helpful is when it comes to reducing the risk of snoring and sleep apnea.

sleeping position
Sleeping on your stomach can reduce the risk of snoring and sleep apnea. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Sleeping on your back

The most optimal position for relieving back and shoulder pain is sleeping on your back. This position distributes weight across the entire spine and maintains the natural curve of the spine. The primary advantage of this position is that it is good for spine alignment as it imitates your posture when you stand up straight.

However, while this is the go-to position for people with back pain issues, it could aggravate problems of snoring and sleep apnea. Sleeping on the back can cause the throat muscles to fall backwards and obstruct smooth airflow, thereby causing snoring and sleep apnea problems.

Which one should you pick?

So, the healthier option in terms of sleeping position is impacted by a range of factors such as age, back or shoulder pain and conditions such as sleep apnea. A combination of both back and stomach sleeping is probably a prudent approach, allowing you to manoeuvre through the pros and cons of the sleeping positions. Sleeping on your side (foetal position) can also prove to be comforting, allowing you to sleep well.

Grace Bains Grace Bains

Grace is someone who likes writing enough to make a living out of it. When she isn’t writing, you will find her having chai and reading a book.