Sleeping Positions and Health

In 9 Different Ways

The Basics

What: Medical view on different sleeping position and their connection with health and personality traits.

Source: Live Science, Robert Moghim, M.D.

Great For: Dealing with Insomnia, Sleep Improvement, Relaxation, Emotional Health, Anxiety Prevention. Health Improvement, Body Posture, Better Sleep


From the medical point of view, the best sleeping position is one that promotes healthy spine alignment. However, doctors agree that there is no straight answer when comes to sleeping position. While some positions offer more support than others, an individual’s choice will be determined by their own circumstances. For example you might have a medical condition that dictates the way you need to sleep, or maybe your age or weight prevents you from sleeping in a particular way?

To find out even more specifics, read about best sleeping positions for a specific health condition (snoring, back pain, pregnancy).

9 Sleeping Positions and Health

On Your Belly

If you like to sleep on your tummy, do you have problems sleeping? You’re more likely to be restless and turn to get comfortable when you sleep on your belly. It can affect your body, like strain your neck and your lower back, too. If this is the way you sleep, you may want to use a very soft pillow or none at all to keep your neck comfortable.

Belly Position: Freefall

About 7% of the population lie on their belly with their arms around a pillow and head turned sideways. If this is your sleeping position, some research suggests you may be more likely to speak your mind and be sociable or outgoing. You also may not be very open to criticism.

While some studies suggest that sleeping on your stomach can help with digestion and sleep apnea prevention, it can also cause a lot of issues with your spine. It can put added pressure on the lower back and cause the neck to be turned in an unnatural angle for too many hours.

Back Sleeping

Some studies have shown that sleeping on your back puts you at a higher risk for obstructive sleep apnea. However, this seems to be more related to those who have other risk factors for the disease, such as being overweight or having issues waking up rested.  This position can cause low back pain for some people. And if you already have that, it can be even worse.

Back Position: Soldier

This position is favored by about 8% of the population. You sleep with your arms down and close to your body. Some research suggests you may be more likely to be quiet and keep to yourself. You also may expect a lot from yourself and from others.

Back Position: Starfish

Only about 5% of people sleep this way. You lie on your back with your arms up near your head. According to some studies, you are very good listener and don’t like to be the centre of attention.

Side Position: Fetal

More than 40% of people sleep in this curled-up side-sleeping position which is the most comfortable. That is when your knees bent slightly toward your chest. It’s the most common position for women — they’re twice as likely as men to sleep like this. Some research suggests you may be more likely to be warm, friendly, and sensitive, but you also may have a protective shell around you.

Scientists have determined that sleeping in this position helps flush out toxins from the brain, which is why people who sleep in this position have a lower risk of neurological conditions like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease.  However, because you are sleeping on part of your face, you are more susceptible to facial wrinkles. Arthritis sufferers may also experience more joint pain because joints are hinged rather than straight.

Side Position: Log

This is when you sleep on your side with both arms down. About 15% of people “sleep like a log.” Some research says you may tend to be social, easy-going, and trusting.

Side Position: Yearner

About 13% of people sleep in this side position with their arms out in front of their bodies. If you sleep like this, some studies say you may be open-minded, but suspicious, and stubborn about sticking to a decision once you’ve made it.

Side Position: Spooning

With your body close to your partner, you may wake up more often, but cuddling can be good for you. It makes your body release a chemical called oxytocin that can help lower your stress, bond you to your partner, and help you get to sleep faster.

Good news for those who love to sleep on your side; this position does not come with a lot of health issues. In fact, it can be a great position to avoid neck and back pain. If you share your bed with someone, it can affect your health for the good, as well as for worse. Those who slept with a snorer could have a harder time staying in a deep, restorative sleep. On the other side, those who shared a bed with someone and enjoyed cuddle time before snoozing were more likely to be happier and have a stronger relationship.

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