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)