Is Sleeping On My Stomach Really That Bad?

By Dr. Bryen Brown

July 19, 2018

Is sleeping on my stomach really bad for me?

YES!! The position you sleep in can cause a lot of pain along with other conditions in your spine that will get worse over time. Sleeping on the stomach is the worse position for your body. I know it may be comfortable or it may be the only position you can fall asleep in, but its also making you worse. I’ve heard all of these responses before. Today we will discuss three reasons why sleeping on your stomach can ruin the spine, the body, and the rest of your day.

You posture a has everything to do with your health. The spine being out of alignment due to bad posture not only creates pain but worst, disease.

The main three positions we sleep in.

When it comes to sleeping posture, we’re all lying either on our stomach (also called lying prone), on either side, or on our back (supine). Some of us are in different combinations of the three, whatever’s comfortable for them. But, what’s supposed to be a period of rest and relaxation can turn into a life of pain and suffering.

Sleeping is an essential part of life. Without sleep you go mad, eventually hurt someone or yourself, and the outcomes aren’t going to work in your favor. We all have to sleep for rest of mind and body. The next question is how much should we sleep. If you Google “how long should I sleep” the average answer is 7 to 9 hours. We only get 24 hours a day so that’s basically a third of the day which adds up to a third of our life. That’s a lot of time spent in one position and if not used properly can have a negative effect on spinal health and general health.

What’s the best and worst sleeping postures?

Sleeping on the back is best. It supports the natural curves the spine allows for the least amount of disruption to the anatomical structure. This is also the least slept in position based on my own clinical statistics. Most people just feel uncomfortable sleeping on their back. In other cases, sleeping on the back is comfortable, but when you do, eventually, that soft bump wakes you and you hear that voice saying you’re snoring too loud. Then you have to roll over.

Most people are side sleepers, the second best position to sleep in. The use of adequate pillow height and a cushion between the legs can allow you to sleep in a better posture on either side.

“Sleeping on my stomach feels the best”

There are a few thing I want you to understand before we discuss the negative consequences of sleeping on the stomach. Let’s analyze the way the body and spine are positioned when sleeping on the stomach. First, the head is constantly looking either right or left and 99.9 percent of people don’t have a hole in the mattress allowing you to look down to breathe through.

(Notice I didn’t use 100 percent. I’m sure there’s someone out there who has cut a hole in middle of their mattress.)

#1. Stomach sleeping can lead to chronic headaches.

When repeated daily, the spinal segments in the neck are forced into prolonged rotation periods where they get restricted. These restrictions create a stress to the discs and ligaments causing damage. Since it’s in the neck it directly affect and starts one of the most common types of headaches felt, tension type headaches. I’m not saying someone can all of a sudden, you stop sleeping on your stomach and the headaches will go away. It’s way more complicated than that. But the sooner you take the correct steps to fixing your spinal posture and sleeping in a better position, the more favorable the outcome.

#2. Stomach sleeping can cause nerve irritation and sciatica.

The position of the legs are also a factor with those who sleep on the stomach. Some people keep both legs straight, while most hike one leg up. This is creates a situation where the pelvis rotates which also rotates the lower spine. This leads to the same situation mentioned above with the neck where the joints get restricted or stuck in a bad position. This doesn’t loosen up on its own and that spinal rotation starts to irritate the nerves and sciatica symptoms are shooting down the legs. When the pelvis is in that rotated position, the muscles are being stretched on one side and short on the other. Muscle memory can become a factor in this case as well due to the prolonged periods in that abnormal position.

#3. Stomach sleeping can cause arthritis.

When lying on the stomach the thighs extend up. This causes hypertension of the lumbar spine. When the lumbar spine is hyper extended it adds a tremendous amount of pressure to the individual vertebral joints and discs of the spine. When any abnormal pressure is placed on the spine repetitively and for prolonged periods of time it will start to prepare itself and strengthen itself this abnormal load. The body starts to build bone spurs, harden the discs, and remold the shape of the vertebrae in efforts to correct the abnormal stress being applied due to you sleeping on your stomach. These degenerative changes are all elements of osteoarthritis.

Sleeping is very important to your health. Getting the correct pillow keeps you in good posture. There are also pillows for side sleepers. Check your mattress for dents and replace it if you feel any. Putting a pillow or blanket between the legs when sleeping on the side helps to level the pelvis. A pillow or blanket under the knees when sleeping on the back helps keep the back loose, which some beds are adjustable to that setting.

Chiropractic care can help with a number of conditions. Here at CORE we focus on helping people correct the bad postural habits that can cause pain and contribute to the wear and tear of the body. To schedule an appointment, please call (713) 622-3300.

Stomach sleeping tips and best way to sleep

Dr. Bryen Brown

About the author

Dr. Bryen Brown is married to Dawn and has one son. He grew up in Bogalusa, LA and received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from Grambling State University in 2008. He then attended and graduated from Texas Chiropractic College in 2012. Click Here To Read Full Bio

Recent Posts

June 19, 2024

La Dr. Castillo nos explica cómo el tomar

June 12, 2024

Do you get headaches? No amount of headaches

June 5, 2024

Is it a good idea to workout before