A lot of people are curious about whether or not they should be sleeping on their stomach. Most will say that it is the only way that they can sleep and others have been doing it since they were kids and it just feels “normal”.
It’s important for stomach-sleepers to know that this position applies mechanical stress to the entire spine. Muscles and ligaments are stretched more on one side than the other, which physically pulls the vertebrae of the spine out of proper alignment. Among other things, this can cause chronic low back pain, neck pain and headaches, and accumulate into irreversible arthritic changes over time.
So I’d like to describe some ways for you to train yourself how to quit sleeping on your stomach. It’ll take time – don’t expect overnight success. But patients have informed me they’ve made the change in as little as two weeks. For others, it can take up to six months.
Here are four ways to stop sleeping on your stomach…
Suggestion #1: Use a Therapeutic or cervical pillow. This is the easiest way, in my opinion, because it’s the “training wheels” of pillows. It’s uniquely designed to help you maintain back/side sleeping. The intelligent shape of it makes stomach-sleeping nearly impossible. There’s no question that it will wake you up if your body moves into the wrong position during the night.
Suggestion #2: “Will” yourself to stay on your back or side all night. This method is appealing because it doesn’t cost anything. It can be effective if you share your bed with someone who is a light sleeper. Ask them to nudge/poke if they notice you’ve unconsciously shifted onto your stomach during the night. Using a knee wedge or regular pillow under your knees will help as well o allow your pelvis and lower back to be in a better posiition.
Suggestion #3: Use a Full Body Pillow. Considered a “side sleep stabilizer” this long cylindrical body pillow is designed to help stomach sleepers transition to side-sleeping. If you need the feeling of warmth, pressure, or support to fall asleep, this helps, as well as if you roll over at night the pillow will stay with you.
Suggestion #4: In addition to implementing these methods, I recommend receiving an evaluation from a reputable chiropractor who will take x-rays of your neck and review the overall health of your spine. Improving spinal alignment can make the transition process from stomach-to-side/back more comfortable for you.
Dr. Brandon Siegmund was born and raised outside of Fort Worth. After he obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Texas at Austin in 2006, Dr. Siegmund performed clinical research at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Click Here To Read Full Bio