Do you sleep on your stomach? This is how you stop this habit.
Do you sleep on your stomach? You are certainly not the only one. However, sleep experts discourage sleeping on your stomach, although there is no firm proof that this impacts on the quality of sleep. The reason? Sleeping on your stomach always causes extra pressure on the cervical vertebrae and often also on the lower back.
It has not been scientifically proven that sleeping on your stomach is unhealthy. But according to ergonomic experts, sleeping on your stomach is bad for your back, as it is virtually impossible when you are lying on your stomach to keep your spine in a neutral and relaxed position. It offers too little support and creates tension, causing extra pressure on the neck. In many cases people do not lie completely on their stomach, but half on the stomach and half on their side. This somewhat distorted position may result in neck complaints and pain in the lower back as well.
Tips for people who sleep on their stomach
Not prepared to change to a different sleeping position in the near future? If you simply cannot sleep in a different position, please don’t feel guilty about the poorer ergonomic posture. Your sleep is also about mental recuperation, and it is not the case that your body does not recuperate at all when you are lying on your stomach. Experience teaches us that sleeping on your stomach is just not ideal and may contribute to back and neck problems over time.
Sleeping on your stomach with back pain or neck problems: four important tips
- For people who persist in sleeping on their stomach, it is important to select the correct pillow. For people sleeping on their stomach, it is recommended to choose a very flat pillow. Of course, you can also just sleep without a pillow. Do note that in the last case, your neck will be bent backwards partly, and the torsion of the cervical vertebrae continues to apply. Pre-shaped pillows in slow foam or latex are not a good idea for people who sleep solely on their stomach.
- As a protection against back and neck problems after a night of lying at an angle, you can stretch your neck and shoulders in the morning. Be careful not to overdo it, because your muscles have not warmed up in the morning.
- Any more tips? When you sleep on your stomach, it is better to pull up one leg, this reduces the pressure in the lower back considerably and stabilises the pelvis. And it is best to choose a medium to firm mattress.
- Do not consume heavy food and drink in the evening. Ideally, do not eat anything 2 to 3 hours before going to bed. A heavy feeling in your stomach increases the tendency to sleep on your stomach.
You can unlearn sleeping on your stomach
Adults can unlearn sleeping on their stomach. The difficulty is, that it is a habit. Learning a new habit, takes effort and perseverance. People with back problems should pay extra attention to their sleeping position. For people who sleep on their stomach and want to sleep differently, the foetal position may be a good sleeping position.
Lots of people sleep on their stomach because they have a firm or uncomfortable mattress. In the side position, your hip and shoulder get more pressure, so that you turn to the stomach position automatically. If you are thinking about a new mattress you should choose a mattress with a softer hip and shoulder section. This will make you sleep on your side more often automatically.
Is your bed or mattress not ready for replacement yet? You could buy a positioning cushion. This is an elongated, sausage-shaped cushion that is often used by women during pregnancy. By lying on your side with this positioning cushion – with the cushion between your legs – it is much more difficult to turn on your stomach when you want to fall asleep.
Last, but not least, the trick with the tennis ball. Do note, that this method is cheap and effective, but can be painful. You simply put a tennis ball in a pocket at the front of your pyjama or nightdress, or tape or sew it on, at the height of your breastbone. Subsequently, you put a tennis ball in it just before you go to sleep. As soon as you turn on your stomach during the night, you will feel an unpleasant pressure and you will automatically return to your side or back position. An old trick, but it works for quite a few people.
Is sleeping on your stomach totally wrong?
Is there nothing positive at all to be said about sleeping on your stomach? Of course there is. It reduces snoring and sleep apnoea. But… that does not outweigh the fact that your spine will be less recuperated, and the risk of back and neck problems will be greater. If you want optimum benefit from your sleep, it is preferable to unlearn it. If you do not succeed in this, consider our tips.