SLEEP: WHAT ARE THE BEST
Reviewed by Charles Patrick Davis,
MD, PhD on October 18, 2017
Dr. Yousef Elshrek
• Do You Sleep on Your Stomach?
• Approximately 7% of people sleep on their stomach.
• It may help ease snoring, but sleeping in this position may
aggravate other medical conditions.
• Your neck and spine are not in a neutral position when you
sleep on your stomach.
• This may cause neck and back pain.
• Stomach sleeping can put pressure on nerves and cause
numbness, tingling, and nerve pain.
• It’s best to choose another sleep
position if you are stomach sleeper.
• If you can’t break the habit, prop
your forehead up on a pillow so
your head and spine remain in a
neutral position and you have room
• THE FREEFALL POSITION
• About 7% of people sleep on their stomachs with
their heads turned to the side.
• People who sleep this way have their arms wrapped
around a pillow or tucked under a pillow.
• One sleep researcher
who sleep this way
may be more likely to
• They may also be
more likely to not take
• DO YOU SLEEP ON
• Some people who sleep on
their backs may experience
low back pain from this
• It can also make existing
back pain worse.
• So this is not the best sleep
position for lower back
• If you suffer from snoring
or sleep apnea, sleeping on
your back may aggravate
•There are upsides to sleeping on
•Your head, neck, and spine are
in a neutral position so you’re
less likely to experience neck
• Sleeping on your back with your
head slightly elevated is also the
best sleep position for heartburn.
• THE SOLDIER POSITION
• In this position, the sleepers lie on their backs and their
arms are down and close to the body.
• Approximately 8% of people sleep like this.
• Research has shown that people who sleep in this
position may have quiet and reserved personalities.
• They may also have high
standards both for
themselves and others.
• This is not one of the best
sleep positions for snoring
and may prevent you from
getting a restful night’s
• Talk to your doctor if
snoring keeps you from
getting enough rest.
• THE STARFISH POSITION
• People who sleep in a starfish position sleep on their
backs with their arms up over their head.
• Approximately 5% of people sleep this way.
• Research shows people who sleep in this position do
not like being the center of attention.
• They are also likely to be
good listeners and helpful.
• As all those who sleep on
their backs, people who
sleep in the starfish
position may be prone to
snoring and sleep
• DO YOU SLEEP ON YOUR SIDE?
• The most popular sleep position by far is side sleeping.
• Approximately 41% of people sleep this way, curled up on their
sides with their knees bent.
• This is also called the fetal position.
• More women than men sleep in this position.
• This position is good for pregnant
women because it facilitates
circulation to both mom and the
• The position may be good for those
• If you have arthritis, sleeping in this
position may make you sore.
• Curling up may also prevent you from breathing deeply because
your diaphragm is restricted
• THE FETAL POSITION
• Side sleepers who sleep with their legs bent and curled
toward their torsos are sleeping in the so called fetal
• Women are twice as likely to sleep in the fetal position
• Researchers have found that people who sleep in the
fetal position have warm and friendly personalities.
• They may be more likely to be
sensitive on the inside and
have a tough, protective
• If sleeping this way hurts your
hips, placing a pillow between
your knees may help relieve
• THE LOG POSITION
• People who sleep in the log position sleep on their
sides with their arms down next to their bodies.
• This sleep position may be good for you if you
• If you have arthritis, you may wake up in pain.
Approximately 15% of people sleep like a log.
• Researchers have found that people who sleep this
way easygoing and social.
• They are more likely
to be trusting,
perhaps even gullible
• THE YEARNER POSITION
• People who sleep in the yearner position sleep on their
sides with their arms outstretched in front of the body.
• The position may be good for you if you snore, but bad
if you suffer from arthritis.
• Approximately 13% of people sleep in this position.
• In a study, a researcher found that people who sleep in
the yearner position are stubborn.
• They are open-
minded, but also
suspicious and cynical.
• They tend to stick to a
decision once they’ve
made up their minds
• THE SPOONING POSITION
• Spooning is a side sleeping position for couples
where the person in the back holds the one in the
front close to their body.
• Couples may wake up more frequently sleeping
this way, but cuddling stimulates the release of
• This is a hormone that
decreases stress, and may
help you get to sleep more
• Cuddling for as little as 10
minutes is enough to trigger
the release of oxytocin.
• DO YOU SNORE?
• If you snore, it’s best to sleep on your side to minimize the
risk of snoring.
• Sleeping on your back may aggravate snoring.
• If you want to sleep on your back and you snore, stack a few
pillows underneath your head to reduce the risk of snoring.
• If snoring wakes you up or if you wake up gasping or feel tired
during the day, it’s time to see your doctor.
• Severe or loud snoring may be
a sign of sleep apnea, a
condition that causes you to
stop and start breathing while
• Sleep apnea is associated with
high blood pressure, heart
disease, and stroke
• DOES YOUR BACK HURT?
• If you have back pain, sleeping on your stomach
or back may aggravate your pain.
• Switch to side sleeping to minimize your risk of
• For further relief, put a pillow between your
knees to keep your hips in alignment.
• If you must sleep on
your back, placing a
pillow under your
knees will take some
strain off of your back
• ARE YOU PREGNANT?
• If you are pregnant, sleeping on your stomach or
back will be uncomfortable or impossible.
• You will be most comfortable sleeping on your
• Favor your left side to maximize circulation for
both you and your baby.
• Placing a body pillow or pillow under your belly
can help relieve back pain.
• Place another pillow between your legs and
bend your knees to be even more comfortable.
• IS YOUR MATTERS COMFORTABLE?
• Mattresses are made of a variety of materials.
• Some are softer or more firm.
• The type of material that a mattress is made out of
affect your body temperature.
• When it comes to the firmness of a mattress, you
want one that is firm enough to be supportive where
you need it, but also soft enough to conform to the
shape of your body.
• People who suffer from back pain may be most
comfortable on a mattress that is softer and more
• When shopping for a mattress, buy one from a store
that will let you test it for several weeks and
exchange it if it doesn’t work for you.