Should you sleep on your back, stomach or side?

Should you sleep on your back, stomach or side?

We’ve all been there – you wake up with a pounding headache and throbbing back and you feel as though your only hope of putting some pep in your step is via a caffeine drip.

It could be that the way you’re sleeping is to blame.

“Patients with back and neck pain benefit from sleeping on their back,” explains Dr. Amit Gupta, a sleep medicine specialist with Aurora Medical Center in Oshkosh, Wis. “And patients with snoring and sleep apnea benefit from sleeping on their sides.”

Not only are there medical benefits to certain sleeping positions, but the way you sleep could be accelerating how old you look.

“If you’re concerned about face wrinkles, you should sleep on your back,” says Dr. Gupta, “as a particular side position or stomach-sleeping may promote wrinkling on that side of the face.”

It’s not too late to work on your sleeping posture. Check out the picture below see what might be best for you.

Having trouble sleeping? Take a free online quiz to learn if you might have sleep apnea.

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  1. I always find that sleeping on my back causes more acid reflux. I end up sleeping on my side because of it. Usually on my left if I happen to be having reflux problem that night.

  2. I’ll try to sleep on my side, but it won’t be easy!

  3. I will now try to sleep on my back every night! I didn’t know there was so much info about the way you sleep. when ever I sleep on my stomach my back always hurts and now I understand why. Every once in a while I sleep on my back I usually put a pillow under my legs to release the pressure on my lower back after a long night at work. Thanks for the info!

  4. I always go to sleep on my back, but always wake up on my stomach cause I must roll around a lot or something :/ any suggestions for me to stay on my back ?

  5. Todd Baker, MD May 22, 2020 at 11:05 am · Reply

    Thank you Dr. Gupta for your expert opinion on the impact of sleep patterns on facial wrinkles. While it is believed that repetitive pressures and motions may play a role in the formation of facial rhytids (wrinkles), we cannot overlook the most common causes of premature facial aging. As a Plastic Surgeon with a focus of facial aesthetics and skin cancer prevention, I strongly recommend all of my patients to avoid to apply SPF30 or greater mineral based sunscreen daily as part of a healthy skin regimen. Skin health begins with sun prevention and can be augmented by consulting with an aesthetic and skin health professional about simple products and minimally invasive procedures to avoid premature facial aging. As with many other health conditions, avoiding nicotine products will also help maintain a youthful appearance. For more information talk to an American Board of Plastic Surgery certified expert at Advocate Aurora Health.

  6. Sleeping on my back causes greater potential for “sleep paralysis” and it’s terrifying! Do sleep medicine specialists study this??

  7. Sleeping on my back causes my already severe reflux to be bad. I’ve always been told from my GI doc to NOT sleep on my back. Can’t say I agree with that comment about how sleeping on your back “can ward off acid reflux”. Best position for me with reflux is on left side. Even if I try to sleep on my right side, it causes non-stop caughing from reflux.

  8. I can’t lie on my back; it puts my back in an arch. Likewise if I lie on my stomach. If I lie on my left side, I feel a lump under my ribs the size of a tennis ball. The only position I can get comfortable in is on my right side.

About the Author

Brianna Wunsch
Brianna Wunsch

Brianna Wunsch, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator for Advocate Aurora Health with a BA in public affairs from University of Wisconsin - Green Bay. In her free time, Brianna enjoys living an active lifestyle through biking, hiking and working out at the gym, but even more than that, she especially loves spending quality time with her two cats (Arthur and Loki), son and husband.