Home / Blog December 15, 2022

Is Sleeping On Your Stomach Bad?

Sleeping on your stomach can be bad if you’re dealing with neck and back issues, but some experts claim it’s therapeutic. So if it’s not causing pain, there’s no reason to stop. However, expectant mothers and infants should avoid stomach sleeping at all costs as it increases the risk of SIDS.

Is Sleeping On Your Stomach Bad?

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Sleeping on your stomach can cause minor issues like back pain and wrinkles. It can also elevate risk of SIDS and miscarriage.

Lying prone can improve posture and back pain in others.

A body pillow can help you avoid sleeping on your stomach by making side or back positions more comfortable. 

Did you know?
Though it’s a bad idea to let babies sleep on their stomach, it’s a great idea to let them play in that position while awake. It’s called ‘tummy time’ and helps develop strength and posture

You reach the end of a long day, you’re exhausted from head to toe, and right after flicking off the lights you flop down face-first on the bed. Peak comfort, right?

While sleeping on your stomach might leave you sighing in relief at first, it can cause issues for some people. From back aches to face wrinkles, there are many reasons to wonder if you should be staying on your back during the night.

So, is sleeping on your stomach bad?

Negative Effects Of Sleeping On Your Stomach

Of all the different sleeping positions, sleeping on your stomach is a lonely bronze medalist behind back and side sleeping. In total, it makes up less than 10% of the average adult’s time spent in bed.

The debate around the effects of this sleeping style has hardly been settled, but some facts have emerged.

Sleeping On Your Stomach Can Cause Neck And Back Pain

Neck and back pain are at the center of the debate about whether or not it’s good to sleep on your stomach. Unfortunately there aren’t a lot of good studies to back up claims that stomach sleeping is bad for your spine – possibly because it’s such an uncommon sleeping position.

However, everyone is different. And for some, stomach sleeping can make back and neck pain worse – something that many chiropractors agree on. That’s why the Mayo Clinic suggests placing a pillow under the midsection for extra support if you can’t stay away from this position.

For those who want to try placing something under their tummies, our Cuddler body pillow may give relief without adding pressure. It’s made of eco-friendly melofoam that’s soft enough to be ideal for belly support.

Stomach Sleeping Can Negatively Affect Pregnancies

You may have heard this already, but stomach sleeping is not a good idea if you’re pregnant. Healthcare professionals have discouraged it for a while as it significantly increases the chance of miscarriage.

Any pregnancy problems are bad for the pregnant person’s physical and mental health, too, so expectant parents should do their best to sleep on their side.

Stomach Sleeping Increases The Risk Of SIDS In Infants

If you’ve ever put your little sweetheart down in the crib, you may have checked the baby monitor a while later and been surprised to see them resting face down. It’s adorable, but it’s also something to adjust as they’re not quite out of the woods as far as SIDS risk is concerned.

Some theories suggest that the culprit could be a lack of blood or oxygen flow, but whatever the case, the National Institute of Child Health and Development (NICHD) suggests keeping your kiddo away from this position.

Sleeping On Your Stomach Can Cause Facial Wrinkles

Another effect of stomach sleeping that’s backed up by research is increased facial wrinkles. A study from 2016 looked at increased wrinkles due to sleeping posture and found that stomach sleeping produced more than any other position. It’s not so surprising since people sleeping that way end up with their faces smooshed against a cushion for most of the night.

The study also puts side-sleeping in its crosshairs as a wrinkle producer, so if you’re concerned about keeping your skin smooth, you might prefer snoozing on your back.

Stomach Sleeping May Cause Digestive Issues

Finally, stomach sleeping may lead to poor digestion if done too often since the position puts extra pressure on your stomach and intestines, especially if you’re using a pillow. If you’re not using a pillow, it can lower your chest to parallel which only makes matters worse.

If you have indigestion or heartburn issues, you may want to sleep on your side instead. It’s a champion sleeping position, and heartburn relief is just one benefit.

Positive Effects Of Sleeping On Your Stomach

When it comes to sleeping on your stomach, it’s not all bad news. As with anything, it’s important to listen to your body. If you’re consistently waking up sore, it may be time to make a change.

However, spending your night face-down can be beneficial for some people’s sleep.

Benefits To Your Posture

While some claim that sleeping on your stomach isn’t so great for your back, others have said the opposite.

Chiropractic professional, Dr. Stephanie Estima writes, “Sleeping, since it represents about 1/3 of your day, can be a wonderful way to undo the text neck, the excessive flexion whilst at the desk, and the forward head posture.”

She goes on to recommend tossing away the head pillow altogether and sleeping belly-down on the bed.

Benefits To Your Lower Back

Physiotherapists have also used the prone position for therapy in patients with back problems like herniated discs via the McKenzie method of rehabilitation. Whether or not this translates to stomach sleeping is up in the air, though, since these are short rehabilitation exercises and aren’t meant to be done throughout the night.

Still, it suggests that the prone position isn’t all bad, especially if it’s only for a portion of the night.

Reduced Snoring

The other main benefit of sleeping on your stomach is that it can help keep you from sawing logs. However, this position shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for a CPAP machine for sleep apnea. If you have that sleep disorder, it’s best to sleep on your side.

Is It Safe To Sleep On Your Stomach?

As long as you aren’t pregnant, there’s little to no science that backs up the idea that sleeping on your tummy is unsafe for adults. For the majority of people, the worst problem that may come up is a little bit of joint or back soreness and possibly worse indigestion symptoms.

As with anything, if you’re experiencing aches and pains from sleeping on your tummy all night, it may be important for you to avoid it.

how to prevent sleeping on your stomach

How To Prevent Sleeping On Your Stomach

If you’ve decided that lying face-down isn’t for you, it can get frustrating when you realize that your body just doesn’t want to kick the habit.

It’s common to find yourself waking up in different positions from where you started So, it’s important to make yourself comfortable on your back or side to prevent rolling over.

Sleep On Your Side With A Pillow Between Your Legs

Side sleeping is a great all-around sleeping position that improves snoring, but it can be tough to get used to for some, especially if you have back troubles. For those who fall in the middle of the back-sleep-loving, side-sleep-hating venn diagram, body pillows could be what you’ve been looking for.

Step one: lay on your side. Step two: hug the pillow between your arms and legs like you mean it. Step three: Enjoy a great sleep, because when used this way, body pillows can keep you in side position for longer.

Use A Body Pillow To Stop Sleeping On Your Stomach

If you prefer sleeping on your back as your starting position of choice, consider wrapping a body pillow around your body in the shape of a “U”. Some body pillows, like our Cuddler, are designed to be able to do this and may prevent you from rolling over.

Another possible use of a body pillow would be to bring your knees up and slide the pillow underneath. This can keep you from wanting to roll over and give the added benefit of lumbar support.

pregnancy pillow

The Pregnancy Body Pillow Setup

There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to using pregnancy pillows, but here’s the gist: they can help expectant mothers stay on their sides by offering a plush safety net for pregnant tummies

Research shows that propping your belly up on a pillow relieves joint pain and can increase time spent asleep. It can also prevent you from accidentally flipping over during the night.

Conclusion

From smaller issues like wrinkles and indigestion to larger ones like back issues and higher SIDS risk, sleeping on your stomach has many potential negative outcomes. Body pillows like the Cuddler may help by keeping you comfortably on your back or side.

Expectant mothers and infants should avoid sleeping on their stomachs, but for most others, it’s a matter of preference and what your body is saying. If it tells you to avoid sleeping face-down, listen.