Is Sleeping on Your Stomach Bad for You?

by Jason Berke יולי 08, 2024

pillows for stomach sleepers

Sleeping on your stomach is undoubtedly a preference for many. The feeling of sinking into the mattress, face down, can induce a sense of immediate relaxation. However, beneath the surface, lies a debate among experts regarding its impact on our health.

In this article, we'll explore whether sleeping on your stomach is bad for you and delve into other considerations about this sleeping position.

What Happens When You Sleep on Your Stomach?

While sleeping on your stomach may offer certain benefits such as reduced snoring, it's essential to consider its potential effects on spinal alignment, muscle tension, and breathing.

Here’s what happens when you sleep on your stomach:
Why is Sleeping on Stomach Bad?

  1. Pressure on Organs

    When you sleep on your stomach, your body's weight is primarily concentrated on your chest and abdomen. This can lead to increased pressure on internal organs such as the lungs, stomach, and intestines. Over time, this pressure may affect breathing and digestion, potentially causing discomfort or disturbances during sleep.

  2. Spinal Alignment

    One of the most significant concerns associated with stomach sleeping is its impact on spinal alignment. In this position, the natural curve of the spine is often compromised, leading to potential strain on the neck and lower back. The neck is particularly vulnerable to misalignment and stiffness due to the need to turn the head to one side for breathing.

  3. Muscle Tension

    Sleeping on your stomach can also contribute to muscle tension, especially in the neck, shoulders, and lower back. The muscles in these areas may become strained as they work to support the body's weight and maintain alignment throughout the night. This tension can result in discomfort, stiffness, and reduced flexibility upon waking.

  4. Breathing Challenges

    For some individuals, sleeping on their stomach can make breathing more challenging, especially if they have pre-existing respiratory conditions such as asthma or sleep apnea. The pressure exerted on the chest and abdomen may restrict the expansion of the lungs, leading to shallow breathing or interruptions in airflow during sleep.

  5. Skin and Facial Pressure

    Sleeping on your stomach can also impact the skin and facial muscles, particularly if your face is pressed against the pillow. This pressure can contribute to the formation of wrinkles, especially around the eyes and mouth, and may cause temporary redness or irritation on the skin.

  6. Other Potential Benefits

    Despite these potential drawbacks, there are some perceived benefits to sleeping on your stomach. Some individuals find that this position reduces snoring and alleviates symptoms of sleep apnea by keeping the airways more open. Additionally, stomach sleeping may provide a sense of comfort and security for some people, helping them relax and fall asleep more easily.

When Could Sleeping on Your Stomach Be Beneficial?

Let’s further explore the benefits of sleeping on your stomach and when it might actually help improve your sleep quality and overall health:

  1. Reduced Snoring and Sleep Apnea

    One of the notable benefits of stomach sleeping is its potential to reduce snoring and alleviate symptoms of sleep apnea for some individuals. When you sleep on your stomach, gravity helps keep the airways more open compared to other positions, which can reduce the likelihood of snoring and decrease episodes of breathing interruptions during sleep.

  2. Improved Digestion

    Sleeping on your stomach may aid in digestion, particularly for individuals who experience gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or indigestion. The position of lying on the stomach can help prevent stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus, reducing the discomfort associated with acid reflux and promoting better digestion.

  3. Alleviation of Back Pain

    While sleeping on your stomach is often associated with increased strain on the spine, some people with specific types of back pain may find relief from this sleeping position. For individuals with lumbar disc herniation, for example, lying on the stomach with a pillow with arm hole for side sleeping placed under the pelvis can help relieve pressure on the affected discs and alleviate discomfort.

  4. Relaxation of Muscles and Joints

    Sleeping on your stomach can promote relaxation of muscles and joints for certain individuals, especially those who experience stiffness or tension in the neck and shoulders. The gentle stretching of the muscles in these areas while lying on the stomach can help release tension and improve flexibility, leading to a more comfortable sleep experience.

  5. Enhanced Comfort and Sleep Quality

    For some people, sleeping on their stomach simply feels more comfortable and conducive to relaxation. The sense of security and support provided by this sleeping position can help individuals fall asleep faster and enjoy a deeper, more restful sleep throughout the night.

If you prefer sleeping on your stomach, try using a supportive pillow to minimize strain on the neck and back, and consider alternating positions throughout the night to promote better overall sleep quality and health.

How to Improve Stomach Sleep?

Here are some helpful tips for enhancing stomach sleep to minimize discomfort and maximize support:

  • Choose a Supportive Mattress and Pillow

    Investing in a supportive mattress and pillow is crucial for stomach sleepers to maintain proper spinal alignment and reduce pressure points. Look for a mattress that provides adequate support for the hips and pelvis while also cushioning the chest and abdomen. Similarly, opt for a thin pillow or no pillow at all to prevent excessive strain on the neck and ensure that the head remains in a neutral position.

  • Use a Body Pillow for Support

    To alleviate pressure on the lower back and hips while sleeping on your stomach, consider using a body pillow or a small pillow placed under the pelvis. This additional support can help maintain the natural curvature of the spine and reduce discomfort caused by excessive arching or sinking of the lower back.

  • Practice Proper Pillow Positioning

    If you prefer using a pillow while sleeping on your stomach, it's essential to position it strategically to avoid straining the neck. Place the pillow under your forehead rather than under your head to keep the neck in a neutral position. Alternatively, opt for a thin pillow that provides minimal elevation and allows the head to rest comfortably without tilting backward.

  • Stretch Before Bedtime

    Engaging in gentle stretching exercises before bedtime can help loosen tight muscles and alleviate tension in the neck, shoulders, and lower back. Focus on stretches that target these areas, such as neck rolls, shoulder stretches, and cat-cow stretches for the spine. Incorporating a brief stretching routine into your nightly bedtime ritual can promote relaxation and improve comfort while sleeping on your stomach.

  • Experiment with Alternative Position

    While stomach sleeping may be your preferred position, it's essential to listen to your body and adjust as needed to avoid discomfort or strain. Experiment with alternative sleeping positions, such as side sleeping or back sleeping, to find what feels most comfortable for you. You can also try using arm rest pillows or props to gently encourage a different sleeping posture while still providing support and comfort.

  • Maintain a Healthy Sleep Environment

    Creating a conducive sleep environment is key to promoting quality rest regardless of your preferred sleeping position. Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet to enhance relaxation and minimize disturbances during the night. Additionally, establish a consistent sleep schedule and practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation, to help prepare your body and mind for sleep.

Should You Change Your Sleeping Position?

Whether you're a stomach, back, or side sleeper, it's essential to evaluate the pros and cons of your chosen sleeping position to determine if a change is warranted. Let’s explore the factors to consider when deciding whether to change your sleeping position and offer guidance on finding the most suitable position for optimal rest and well-being.

  1. Assess Your Current Sleeping Position

    Begin by assessing your current sleeping position and any associated discomfort or challenges you may be experiencing. Pay attention to how you feel upon waking, including any stiffness, pain, or difficulty breathing. Consider whether your sleeping position aligns with recommendations for maintaining proper spinal alignment and minimizing strain on the neck, back, and other areas of the body.

  2. Understand the Pros and Cons

    Each sleeping position—back, side, stomach—has its own set of pros and cons that can impact sleep quality and overall health.

    • Back Sleeping:

      Pros: Sleeping on your back is often recommended for promoting spinal alignment and reducing pressure on the neck and back. It can also help prevent facial wrinkles and acid reflux.

      Cons: Back sleeping may worsen snoring and sleep apnea symptoms for some individuals. It can also lead to tongue or soft palate collapse, obstructing airflow during sleep.

    • Side Sleeping:

      Pros: Side sleeping can alleviate snoring and sleep apnea symptoms by keeping the airways open. It's also beneficial for reducing acid reflux and improving circulation.

      Cons: Side sleeping may lead to shoulder and hip pain if adequate support is not provided. It can also contribute to facial wrinkles and breast sagging due to gravitational forces.

    • Stomach Sleeping:

      Pros: Stomach sleeping may reduce snoring and alleviate sleep apnea symptoms by preventing airway obstruction. It can also promote digestion and relieve lower back pain for some individuals.

      Cons: Stomach sleeping can strain the neck and spine, leading to stiffness and discomfort. It may also cause facial wrinkles and contribute to breathing difficulties.

  3. Consider Health Conditions

    Certain health conditions may influence the suitability of different sleeping positions. For example, individuals with sleep apnea may benefit from side sleeping to improve airflow, while those with acid reflux may find relief from back sleeping to prevent stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus. Consult with a healthcare provider to determine the most appropriate sleeping position based on your individual health needs.

  4. Experiment with Alternative Positions

    If you're experiencing discomfort or challenges with your current sleeping position, consider experimenting with alternative positions to find what works best for you. Use pillows for stomach sleepers or props to provide support and promote proper alignment while adjusting to a new sleeping posture gradually.


In conclusion, while sleeping on your stomach may offer certain benefits such as reduced snoring and improved digestion for some individuals, it's important to weigh these advantages against the potential drawbacks. The strain it can place on the neck, spine, and internal organs may lead to long-term musculoskeletal issues and discomfort.

Ultimately, finding a comfortable and supportive sleeping position that promotes proper spinal alignment and overall health is essential for restorative sleep. Remember, your sleep habits play a crucial role in your well-being, so don't hesitate to seek guidance from a healthcare provider or sleep specialist for personalized recommendations. Also, invest in a supportive pillow for stomach sleepers that can promote better rest and improve your overall sleep experience. Explore the Wife Pillow collection on Amazon!

Jason Berke
Jason Berke