Home / Blog September 27, 2023

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Unlocking Sweet Dreams With The Starfish Sleeping Position

The starfish sleeping position has been associated with less pain in the neck, shoulders, and lower back. However, if not executed properly, sleeping like a starfish may increase the risk for sleep apnea and snoring, among other things. Consider supplementing your starfish pose with the right support, such as a good body pillow that can promote proper alignment when sleeping.

Starfish Sleeping Position


The starfish sleeping position is great for relief from neck, shoulder, and back pain.

This position can also worsen conditions like sleep apnea and acid reflux.

It is essential to maintain a neutral head position when in this position by having supportive pillows. 

Did you know?
The starfish sleeping position is as rare as it is unique, preferred by only around 5% of sleepers.

The starfish sleeping position is a posture in which some sleepers lay on their back with their arms extended overhead, creating a shape reminiscent of a starfish. When resting, starfish sleepers usually stretch out their limbs in opposite directions, much like the arms of a starfish radiating from its central body.

Only around 5% of people actually prefer this sleep style, making it relatively rare compared to more traditional positions like the fetal and freefaller sleep positions. However, adopting the starfish pose when sleeping offers some unique benefits. Sleeping on one’s back, if done appropriately, may promote spinal alignment, therefore minimizing the pressure on one’s neck and joints.

Benefits of the Starfish Sleeping Position

The starfish sleeping position, chosen for its comfort by many, also offers several health benefits:

1. Protection Against Shoulder Pain: Research focusing on the starfish sleep position revealed a lower incidence of shoulder pain in starfish sleepers. Comparatively, individuals who adopt the soldier position, lying on the back with arms by the sides, typically experience more shoulder discomfort.

2. Potential Relief for Lower Back Pain: While back sleeping usually worsens lower back pain in some, it provides relief for others, especially when alternating between back and side sleeping.

3. Protection Against Neck Pain: Maintaining proper spinal alignment from head to hips during sleep prevents the development of neck pain. Back sleeping positions, including the starfish, naturally facilitate spinal alignment.

4. Reduced Risk of Wrinkles: Sleeping on your stomach or side can subject your face to pressure against the mattress or pillow, potentially leading to skin stretching, pulling, or compression—factors contributing to wrinkles. However, when you sleep on your back, the primary force acting on your face is gravity, reducing the likelihood of wrinkles.

To reap these benefits, consider improving your pillow support as you sleep. Having a bolster pillow under your knees can help ease tension in your back muscles, which can help you sleep more soundly. A possible option is our Cuddling, which is ergonomically designed to help you relax, reset, and refresh as you slumber.

Disadvantages of the Starfish Sleeping Position

The starfish sleeping position comes with some downsides. Understanding what the implications of adopting this style are can help you decide if you should opt for other sleeping positions. Here are some disadvantages of sleeping on your back, like a starfish:

i) Snoring and Sleep Apnea: The starfish pose can increase snoring and worsen sleep apnea, impacting your rest and overall health.

ii) Acid Reflux Risk: Starfish sleepers have a higher chance of experiencing acid reflux due to stomach acid flowing more freely into the esophagus, potentially disrupting sleep.

iii) Limited Bed Space: Sharing a bed in the starfish position can limit space, making it uncomfortable for your partner and affecting their sleep quality.

iv) Potential Discomfort: Insufficient support for the neck and back can lead to discomfort and reduced sleep quality for some individuals, prompting the need for alternative sleeping positions.

cuddling under green weighted blanket

Should I Try The Starfish Sleeping Position?

Are you wondering, “Is sleeping in a starfish position for me”? This posture can be particularly beneficial for individuals who experience shoulder pain, lower back pain, neck pain, or have concerns about facial wrinkles. However, beyond that, the starfish sleeping position can also be suitable for individuals who:

i) Prefer Open Space: People who enjoy a sense of spaciousness in bed and do not like feeling confined by their sleeping posture.

ii) Want Minimal Contact: Those who prefer limited contact with their mattress or pillow, as the starfish position minimizes facial skin compression.

iii) Value Symmetry: Individuals who naturally maintain a symmetrical sleeping posture, with arms extended overhead, can benefit from this position.

iv) Seek Back Support: People who find that sleeping on their back provides comfort and support for their spine and neck.

When Should I Choose A Different Sleeping Position?

While the starfish sleep position, or back sleeping in general, offers benefits, it may not be suitable for everyone, especially if you have specific health concerns. Therefore, individuals dealing with any of the following conditions may need to consider trying out a position such as side sleeping.

i) Persistent Neck Pain: While some studies suggest that back sleeping can protect against neck pain, others indicate that side sleeping is more effective in preventing neck discomfort. If trying the starfish position doesn't alleviate your neck pain, consider shifting to side sleeping.

ii) Snoring or Obstructive Sleep Apnea: If you snore or have obstructive sleep apnea, experts recommend sleeping on your side or stomach rather than your back. Back sleeping increases the likelihood of your tongue falling back into your throat, obstructing the airway, and intensifying snoring or sleep apnea symptoms.

iii) Obesity: Individuals who are obese may find it more comfortable to switch to side sleeping over back sleeping. Carrying excess weight can strain the respiratory system, making side sleeping a more suitable choice.

iv) Allergies: If you suffer from allergies, it might be wise to opt for a sleep position other than the starfish. Sleeping on your back can exacerbate nasal congestion and sleep-disordered breathing, particularly for allergy-prone individuals. These issues tend to worsen during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

v) Pregnancy: Healthcare providers advise pregnant individuals to avoid sleeping on their backs, especially in later stages of pregnancy. Back sleeping during pregnancy is associated with a higher risk of stillbirth. Instead, it's recommended to sleep on your sides.

resting legs with bolster pillow

How To Sleep Well In The Starfish Sleeping Position

Because the starfish sleeping pose can be tricky, it is essential to know how to sleep on your back like a pro. Below, are three main tips on how you can sleep well in a starfish position:

  • Invest in a good medium-firm mattress
  • Support your head and neck with good pillows
  • Use a Cuddling under your knees
  • Maintain a neutral head position
  • Elevate the upper body
  • Avoid large meals before bed
  • Check for snoring or sleep apnea
  • Maintain a good sleep hygiene 

To elevate your starfish pose even further, consider supplementing your slumber with sleep aids like weighted blankets. Our Cotton Nappers have an even weight distribution which provides Deep Touch Pressure (DTP) as you sleep. DTP has been linked to an increase in the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone, leading to deeper and more restful sleep.

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Is the Starfish Sleeping Position Good for Babies?

Placing babies on their back to sleep, also known as the supine position, is widely recommended by pediatricians and organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Here is a breakdown of other benefits.

1) Boosting Oxygen Intake: Sleeping on their back allows babies to breathe freely and receive an adequate supply of oxygen.

2) Prevention of Suffocation: The back sleeping position reduces the risk of suffocation, as it minimizes the chances of babies rolling onto their stomach or sides, which can potentially obstruct their airways.

3) Uninterrupted Sleep: Babies tend to sleep more soundly and for longer periods when placed on their backs.

4) Less Muscle Pressure: Sleeping on the back allows babies to relax their muscles, reducing the likelihood of discomfort or pain.

5) Preventing Falls: The starfish sleeping position can help prevent babies from rolling or falling out of bed, especially if they are unable to turn themselves carefully.

While the starfish sleeping position, which is essentially the back sleeping position, has these benefits, it's crucial to consult with a pediatrician or healthcare professional for personalized guidance on infant sleep practices and safety.

What Does The Starfish Position Say About My Personality?

The way you sleep, including your preferred sleep position, has been the subject of curiosity for many, and some have attempted to draw connections between sleep positions and personality traits. According to research by Professor Chris Idzikowski, director of the UK Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service, people who sleep in the starfish position tend to value friendship, are good listeners, and are quick to help others.

However, it's important to note that while there have been attempts to link sleep positions to personality traits, this is not a widely accepted or scientifically proven theory. Sleep positions are more likely to be influenced by comfort, habit, and physical factors like body shape and any existing health conditions. The science of sleep primarily focuses on the quality and quantity of sleep, the impact of sleep disorders, and overall sleep health.


The Starfish sleeping position is a great option for relieving neck and shoulder pain as well as lower back pain. However, it is essential to be cautious of factors like snoring, acid reflux, and sleep apnea before opting for the starfish pose when sleeping. To maximize the benefits while steering away from the disadvantages of this position, consider having good quality pillows and a mattress.

You may also supplement your nightly slumber with sleep aids such as weighted blankets, which can promote deeper sleep. Our Cotton Nappers have an even weight distribution, which promotes the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin, leading to more restorative rest. Regardless of your sleeping position, your comfort and health always come first when deciding how you slip into dreamland.