Is it Bad to Sleep on Your Stomach? Tips to Sleep Safely

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Your sleeping position can have an impact on your long-term health. And if you have found yourself reading this article, then you want to know the reality of sleeping on your stomach — as it turns out, this habit can cause a lot of pressure on your spine without the correct support. 

Although it’s not one of the most popular sleep positions there are still benefits from sleeping in this position, so we’ll give you the pros and cons.

Bottom Line: Is Sleeping on your Stomach Bad for You? 

Short answer: yes. According to research, there are many potential cons to sleeping on your stomach, including neck strain and pain, decreased blood flow in the body, and poor spine alignment.

Additionally, there are ways this sleeping position could improve sleep (such as improving sleep quality for those with sleep apnea). If you can’t switch positions, there are ways to stomach sleep more safely, like using a thin, soft pillow.

Cons to Sleeping on your Stomach

Neck and Spine

Sleeping on your stomach may put pressure on your neck and back. Most of your weight is in the middle, so you end up with your spine in an unnatural position. This may also reduce blood flow to other parts of your body.

See: Sleep and Back Pain

In order to breathe while you’re sleeping on your stomach, you’ll have to sleep with your head turned, which moves your neck to the side. That can result in neck pain and typically puts strain on your spine. Additionally, since the spine’s nerves are the conduit to the rest of the body, you can end up with pain throughout your whole body. You may use a face down pillow or place only your forehead on your pillow rather than your entire head. Sleeping this way might open up your air passages and keep your head elevated enough so that you won’t need to turn it. 

Pain and Sleep

When you’re sleeping, you might not wake up from pain, but that doesn’t mean it won’t affect your sleep. You may toss and turn leading to less quality sleep. This can contribute to sleep deprivation, which can have significant effects on your health. Insufficient sleep could lead to potentially increasing your susceptibility to obesity, diabetes, depression, heart disease, and even cancer, according to research.

This pain can carry over into the day too. You may feel numbness in your extremities. 


Pregnant people may sleep safely on their stomachs. But the pregnancy adds weight to the middle of the body, making it more likely that their spine will be out of alignment. The best sleep position is sleeping on your side. It promotes better blood circulation for you and your baby. You may also see less swelling and varicose veins in your legs as a result. A pillow under your belly and in-between your legs can help enhance your comfort in this position. 

If you’re determined to sleep on your stomach, a donut-shaped pillow between your belly and mattress may help you sleep comfortably.

See: Best Mattresses for Pregnancy

Pros to Sleeping on your Stomach

There may be some benefits from sleeping on your stomach, especially if you have sleep apnea. It’s not definitive, but early research suggests that stomach sleeping could help improve your symptoms, leading to better sleep.

According to research, you are less likely to snore if you are on your stomach. (That can tie into sleep apnea since snoring is a frequent symptom of this sleep disorder.)

How to Sleep on Your Stomach Properly

If you’re one of the few people who sleep on their stomachs, then you’ll understand how difficult it can be to get comfortable. While there may be some benefits that come with stomach sleeping, we typically recommend that you try out other positions and sleep postures if you have pain or wake frequently in the night. 

Sleeping on your right or left side might cause shoulder and hip pain, and becoming a back sleeper may lead to lower back pain. However, these alternate positions may ultimately lead to a better sleep experience. 

If you’re having trouble deviating from your stomach sleeping style, we believe that there are ways to enhance your experience so that you get a good night’s sleep. First, you’ll want to make sure you’re sleeping on one of the best mattresses for stomach sleepers. Then, you’ll want to follow our helpful guide.

Use the Right Pillow

When you sleep on your stomach, you need to consider how this impacts your spine and neck and the natural curve of your body. Sleeping on your stomach can cause your spine to be misaligned, which may lead to back pain in the morning.

In addition to this, you may have to sleep with your head turned to the left or right, resulting in neck pain. If you’re using a pillow, your neck may be elevated above the rest of your body, further causing problems. That’s why it’s actually recommended that stomach sleepers avoid using pillows altogether so that you can keep your body level and straight.

If you’re unwilling to ditch the pillow, we advise you to at least look into thin, soft, or flat pillows that will be easier on your neck. Our best pillows for stomach sleepers guide has several great options.

Another option is to sleep facedown and place only your forehead on your pillow rather than your entire head. By sleeping in this way, you can potentially open up your breathing passages and keep your head elevated enough so that you won’t need to turn it. This position may seem odd and uncomfortable at first, but it can be a possible cure for adamant stomach sleepers who are tired of neck and back pain.

Put a Pillow Under Your Hips

While you may not want to use a pillow for your head while sleeping on your stomach, you can still benefit from putting one underneath your hips and pelvis. If you’re a stomach sleeper, you’ll notice that your hips and pelvis tend to sink into the mattress (especially if it’s made of memory foam or if it’s on the softer side of the firmness scale). 

With your hips so low, you may be throwing off your spinal alignment and putting a lot of strain on your back. Placing a pillow under your hips can keep these parts of your body elevated, helping to keep your spine straight as you sleep.


You don’t need to be lying in bed in order to improve your stomach sleeping experience. You can take steps each morning upon waking up, such as stretching, which may help alleviate with any discomfort or pain. 

One effective type of stretch to do in the morning is to sit with your shins on the floor and your toes pointed backwards, also known as the “child’s pose.” Next, you’ll want to push your pelvis downward and reach forward. This will allow you to stretch out both sides of your back after a good bout of stomach sleeping.

Another stretch to consider if you’re a stomach sleeper is a simple technique known as neck rolling. When you wake up, sit up and roll your neck in a circle. This helps loosen any knots that may have formed overnight and can make your neck, spine, shoulders, and other ligaments feel less stiff throughout the day. You can even perform this maneuver once or twice throughout the day if you continue to feel any stiffness or soreness.

How to Switch Sleeping Positions

It can be difficult to change your preferred sleeping position, but with enough practice, it can be done. If you’re a stomach sleeper, a good way to start your transition is to try sleeping on a sofa or a loveseat. Since these spots are often too narrow to allow you to sleep on your stomach, you’ll be forced to sleep on your left or right side in the fetal position. After a few sessions like this, you may start to acclimate to the new sleeping positions.

Another tip for helping you shift away from stomach sleeping is to invest in a body pillow. By hugging the pillow while side sleeping, you can replicate the sensation of sleeping on your stomach, except you won’t need to worry about the painful side effects.

While these are all great suggestions for helping you switch your sleeping position, you need to remember that it may take time. You might find yourself accidentally flipping onto your stomach as you sleep, but with enough practice, you can prevent this from happening and start to improve your sleep experience. See our article on how to train yourself to sleep on your back for more information.

FAQs about Sleeping on Stomach

What is the Healthiest Sleeping Position?

Most research suggests that you should sleep on your side or your back. There are a few potential health effects when you sleep on your stomach, such as possible pain in your neck or spine. It is easier to align and support your neck and spine in the side and back sleeping positions.

Are there Benefits to Sleeping on Your Stomach?

There may be some benefits from sleeping on your stomach, especially if you have sleep apnea. It’s not definitive, but early research suggests that stomach sleeping could help improve your symptoms, leading to better sleep.

Is Sleeping on Your Stomach Uncommon?

A study in 2017, with over 600 participants, found that only over seven percent of these participants sleep on their stomach. It also concluded that the most common position is on the side.


If you’re a stomach sleeper who’s tired of waking up with neck and lower back pain, just know that you’re not alone. Fortunately, there are ways to remedy these annoying aches and pains, such as the tips we mentioned above. If you find that putting a pillow under your hips, stretching, or sleeping without a pillow under your neck don’t work, then you’ll need to start changing your sleeping posture to get a more restful sleep.

By transitioning into a side sleeper, you may reduce your aches and pains on your neck and back. You might also mitigate other annoying sleep issues like heartburn or acid reflux. If you’re unhappy sleeping in a side position, you can try back sleeping as well to see if it helps. It’s important that you take measures to find the best sleep position for yourself, and when you do, be sure to take a look at our best mattresses for back sleepers and best mattresses for side sleepers guides.

Nobody should experience a rough night’s sleep, and we hope these guidelines can help you on your journey to improving your sleep experience and finding the best sleeping position.

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