Is It Bad to Sleep on Your Stomach? We Asked a Doctor



If you're here reading this, I'm assuming we have at least one thing in common: a penchant for sleeping belly-down, face buried in the pillows. Try as I might, I just can't fall asleep if I'm not flopped on my stomach with my limbs akimbo. But there's so much internet lore about sleeping on your stomach being the worst position literally ever (it hurts your back; your neck will be forever sore!) that I began to worry I was sabotaging my health with my sleep position. 

Again, since you're reading this, I'm assuming that you've come to a similar realization and would also like to know once and for all: Is it bad to sleep on your stomach? I consulted the experts to help me separate fact from fiction. Here's what they said. 

is it bad to sleep on your stomach? 

"Contrary to popular belief, it's not 'bad' to sleep on your stomach," wellness expert Erin Berman of Nectar Sleep explains. "However, it might not be the best sleep position for you." (More on that in a moment.)

She says that for some people, it's actually the most natural sleep position. (*Raises hand.*) However, the caveat is that it can put a lot of pressure on your shoulders, back, and neck, she explains. "Also, if you are prone to indigestion or are pregnant, sleeping on your stomach is not recommended. It's best to know your own body."

So is there a sleep position that's best? 

"There is no 'best position,'" Sujay Kansagra, MD, Mattress Firm’s sleep health expert, says. "We all have different needs and pains while we sleep, so it is best to find whatever position makes you the most comfortable."

Also, the position you doze off in isn't the one you'll stay in all night long. "It's almost universal that people will turn throughout the night and change their position. In fact, during our light stages of sleep, we become restless and shift positions. Believe it or not, we are actually protecting ourselves, ensuring that circulation is not interrupted to any particular body part for the entire sleep period," Kansagra explains. The more you know…

How do you figure out the right sleep position for you?

While everyone is different, there are some general rules of thumb for trying to hack your sleep position. "Sleeping on your right side can increase heartburn, although sleeping on your side with a pillow between your legs can improve back pain," says Berman. "Sleeping on your back can be great for someone who gets neck pain twisted on their side, but be bad for someone who snores and has sleep apnea." 

"Back sleepers should have a mattress and pillows that are supportive enough for their sleeping position. A firmer mattress can help keep your back aligned and memory foam pillows that conform to the shape of your neck and head can also provide necessary support," Kansagra adds. 

Below, a few of our favorite snooze-ready products:

A handcrafted stone diffuser that looks beautiful on your nightstand. Pair with the brand's lavender essential oil to help you wind down and relax. 

The latest addition to Casper's sleep repertoire is this set of breathable cotton sheets that feels like a dream (sorry, had to say it) to cuddle up in. 

You know you're an adult when you start getting excited about pillows. But seriously, this one is great. It's made from a blend of memory foam and down, and comes with inserts that make it fully adjustable. 

You'll want to spend all day cuddled up in this cozy waffle weave blanket. Bonus: It looks especially chic draped haphazardly across your bed. 

The cozy collection from this new loungewear line—founded by vets from the likes of Alo Yoga and Rent the Runway—will speak to you on both a spiritual and aesthetic level. 

Because if you're going to sleep facedown on your pillow, you should do it on a silk pillowcase that won't leave imprints on your skin. 

A calming potion that contains a blend of sour cherry, turmeric, probiotics, and passionflower to help you have a more restful sleep.