Are you sleeping comfortably?

Written by Sanika Lagoo

Home/Low Back, Middle back, Neck, Others/Are you sleeping comfortably?

Sleep Comfortably for a Healthy You

We spend almost one-quarter to one-half of our lifespan resting and sleeping as sleep helps the human body to recover and restore. Hence making sure that we sleep in a comfortable position is an important factor to understand in detail. Proper comfortable sleep will make sure that your immunity is not compromised, and hence reduce the risk of developing symptoms of any blood pressure issues, cardiac problems, or depression along with making sure that you do not develop the sleep disorder insomnia. (1)

Importance of Sleep Posture for Healing

As our body is positively healing when we sleep, it is important to explore the importance of which position and posture we sleep in. Many people develop aches and pains after waking up in the morning, and one of the causative factors can be having an improper posture for a prolonged period of time when they fall asleep. Instead, if we give the body a relaxed and comfortable posture to sleep, it can assist your body in healing and increasing functionality.

Finding the Best Sleep Positions

One of the best postures to sleep is when we make sure that our spine is aligned correctly from the neck to the hip. It is also noted that sleeping on the back is much more comfortable and beneficial than sleeping on the tummy, as when we lie on our stomach for long periods of time it exerts a lot of pressure and stress on the spine through the night. Sleeping on the back can help with a stuffy nose or nasal congestion, as well as help with neck pain. However, sleeping on the back is not recommended for individuals who are obese as it causes stress which is transmitted to the lower back, along with the ones who snore and the ones who suffer from sleep apnea as it can cause an airway collapse.

Along with this, more than 60% of people prefer to sleep on their side as well. It is interesting to note that usually, men spend more time sleeping comfortably on their sides when compared to women, whereas children seem to be spending equal time sleeping on their backs as well as sides. This points towards the idea that we gradually develop our preference for sleeping posture when we are growing up. It is beneficial to sleep sideways if a woman is pregnant, or if any individual has acid refluxes, and helps individuals who snore or have sleep apnea. It is usually advised to sleep on the left, as sleeping on the right may cause acid reflux or increase the chances of heartburn. Another beneficial position that provides relief from low back pain and reduced snoring is the Fetal position, where the person can sleep towards one side with their legs curled up towards the body. Sleeping on the stomach does not have many benefits other than reduced snoring and helps with sleep apnea, however, it is important to remember that this position causes high amounts of stress on the neck and lower back along with strain on the muscles and joints. In this position, the spine does not get any support and hence can increase pain in the upper or lower back after waking up in the morning. The spinal tissues and muscles are under a lot of pressure in this position and sleeping on the stomach for the long term may cause structural changes to the spine. For any person who is recovering from any injury or pain in the spine is advised to not sleep in this position and try sleeping on their back or side-lying position. Anyone who has cardiac issues, they are always advised to talk to their consultant about which position would be beneficial and advisable for them. It is important to remember that any of the sleeping positions can be adjusted and made much more comfortable with the use of pillows, and it can help reduce pain and recovery as well. A memory pillow can be used under the neck, under the low back to cover the gap between the mattress and the back, or between your knees along with using a roll of towel to increase the support. Sleeping on your stomach or in the prone position is not recommended as (2)(3)

The Impact of Mattress Quality on Sleep

The quality and type of mattress we use can make a difference as well. A lot of research has been carried out to look at mattresses that help reduce pain and help the person get more relaxed sleep. Most of the studies carried out focused on looking at the spinal stability with good mobility of the mattress. It is recommended that the mattress be thick and firm enough to provide good support to the body and ensure that it does not sink into the bed when someone sits or lays on it. Along with this, it is important to ensure that the mattress has a soft and comfortable filling and material to ensure that it does not put high stress on the neck, spine, hip or legs. It is also necessary to ensure that the mattress length is slightly more than the individual’s height to make sure that the feet do not hang out of the bed for a prolonged time when the person is asleep. Many research studies have also advised always testing the mattress in the shop before buying it as this will give a rough idea if the mattress is comfortable to sleep in for a long duration in the position the person is comfortable in. They have also added an indication that usually, individuals tend to choose the wrong mattress in the shop as the advertisement tends to give false information and after using the mattress the person experiences discomfort, disturbed sleep or pain. The recommendation for the perfect mattress is seen to differ amongst people as every individual has a different sleeping position which they prefer. It is advised that if someone is choosing or customizing their mattress, they should inspect the pressure it may exert on the body along with how much stability the mattress is giving to the spine. The usual types of mattresses that are available in stores are Traditional spring mattresses, Standard pocket springs, Open coil, Memory foam, Latex, Gel, Natural fillings and Combination fillings. The traditional and pocket are made out of coils and they are usually recommended for individuals who prefer to sleep on their back or on their stomachs. (4) (5) (6).

Developing Good Sleep Hygiene for Quality Rest

However, it is also important to look at what we do before we go to sleep. Following good sleep hygiene helps us attain a good sleeping pattern. Many studies have shown that factors such as what time we go to sleep, the environment of the bedroom, our mentality and thoughts along our food intake have an influence on the quality of sleep. It is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that developing good sleep hygiene or good sleeping habits helps in increasing the quality of sleep among individuals. The first tip they recommend is maintaining consistency in the time we go to sleep and wake up, and this should include the weekends as well. Along with this, if the temperature of the room is comforting it enhances the sleeping pattern. They do recommend slightly cooler than room temperature provides the body with an optimum environment to sleep in as it helps in maintaining a good circadian rhythm along with not disturbing the sleep due to sweating. Approximately 15-18 degrees Celsius can be classified as a good temperature to sleep in, where the person uses a blanket with them if they need it. However one must always confirm with their consultant if it is safe for them to sleep in a slightly cooler environment. Another tip is to make sure that the room is dark and quiet. It helps in giving a quality sleep pattern as the body understands it has to rest if there are no distractions that can be caused due to patterns of lights in the room or the lights radiating through your phone. Along with this, physical exercises such as walking or exercising in the gym at your comfort level help out as well because after an exercise the body needs rest to heal and recover therefore making it easier for the body to fall asleep. Lastly, they strongly recommend avoiding large meals, caffeine or alcohol before sleeping as this can put the body into focusing on digestion of the food or cause hormonal and/or circulatory changes caused due to caffeine or alcohol and hence make it more difficult for the individual to fall asleep. Another tip that helps out is to wean away from all electronic devices such as laptops, TVs or mobile phones one hour before bedtime as it helps the body to enter a more relaxed state prior to sleep (7)(8).


  1. Mark Wu (2019). The Science of Sleep: Understanding What Happens When You Sleep. Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library. Available at:
  2. Singh, Dr.A. and Suni, E. (2021). What Are the Best Positions for Sleeping? [online] Sleep Foundation. Available at:
  3. (2022). A Guide to Healthy Sleep Positions. [online] Available at:
  4. Hogan, S.O., Krystal, A.D., Edinger, J.D., Bieler, G.S. and Mladsi, S.W. (2011). Choosing a Mattress: Using Actigraphy and Diary Reports to Identify a Mattress That Provides Best Sleep. SSRN Electronic Journal. doi:
  5. Hogan, S.O., Edinger, J.D., Bieler, G.S. and Krystal, A.D. (2011a). Choosing the Best Mattress An Experiment in Testing Whether Individuals Choose a Bed That Leads to Improved Sleep.
  6. Defloor, T. (2000). The effect of position and mattress on interface pressure. Applied Nursing Research, 13(1), pp.2–11. doi:
  7. CDC (2019). CDC – Sleep Hygiene Tips – Sleep and Sleep Disorders. [online] Available at:
  8. Troy, D. (2020). Healthy Sleep Habits. [online] Sleep Education. Available at: