Best Sleeping Positions For Different Ailments

By Marisa Ramiccio. May 7th 2016

Everyone has a certain position that they prefer to sleep in. Some people are side-sleepers while others prefer to sleep on their back or stomach. But some sleep positions can be better for you than others, depending on what kind of ailment you may have. If you’re suffering from back pain, acid reflux or another health problem, read on to find out what sleeping position is best for you.

Sleeping Positions That Reduce Back Pain

Many, many people suffer from some sort of back pain, which can make even the simplest tasks, such as sitting or sleeping, difficult. Sleeping in the wrong position can exacerbate back pain or cause back pain in those who don’t typically have it. If you suffer from any of the following types of back pain, try sleeping in these positions:

  • Herniated disk: If you have a herniated disk, particularly a paracentral herniated disk, try sleeping on your stomach as it will alleviate the disks of pressure. A side position may be more comfortable if you have a foraminal herniated disk.
  • Degenerative disk disease: According to, a stomach position may also be comfortable for people who suffer from degenerative disk disease. Placing a flat pillow beneath the pelvis can further relieve pressure, making this position more comfortable.
  • Osteoarthritis: Since this condition affects the joints, the most comfortable position is the fetal position, which takes the pressure off of the joints in the spine. Sleeping with your legs elevated can also help relieve the pressure.
  • Spinal stenosis: This condition involves the compression of the spinal cord or spinal nerve. To alleviate the pain this compression causes, curl up in the fetal position. For extra comfort, sleep with your head and knees elevated.

Positions For Other Ailments

Back pain isn’t the only condition that can be soothed with the right sleeping position. Here are a few others:

  • Bursitis: People who have bursitis of the hips or other kinds of hip pain should feel the most comfort by sleeping on their side with a pillow wedged between their knees. This will take the pressure off of the pelvis.
  • Acid reflux: Sleeping on your side or even on your stomach can prevent acid reflux, which can be exacerbated by sleeping on your back.
  • Digestion: Sleeping on your stomach with your arms raised can help your digestive system.
  • Snoring: Sleeping on your stomach is the best position for snorers, but a side position should also alleviate snoring and other breathing problems.
  • Pregnancy: If you’re pregnant, sleep on your side or in a fetal position. Sleep on your left side to maximize blood flow.

Problems With Sleeping Positions

While certain sleeping positions can be beneficial for certain ailments, they aren’t good for others. Here are the problems with each position that you should be aware of:

  • Sleeping on your back. This position tends to push your neck and head forward and can restrict your airways, making this a bad position for snorers.
  • Sleeping on your stomach. This position puts undue pressure on your lungs and stomach and can potentially flatten the natural curve in your lower back. It also puts stress on the neck, which is turned to the side for hours at a time.
  • Sleeping on your side. Sleeping on your side with your hand or arm under your head is not an ideal position as the weight of your head can make your arm and hand go numb. This position also raises your shoulder up in an unnatural position, which causes pain in the shoulders and neck.


In order to combat these problems, here are a few tips that should reduce the negative effects of the sleep position that’s best for you:

  • The ideal way to sleep is without a pillow, but if you must use a pillow, make sure it’s compatible with the position you sleep in. For example, if you sleep on your side, find a firm, flat pillow that won’t elongate one side of your neck. If you need to sleep on your back, use a fluffy pillow that won’t push your head and neck forward. If you need to sleep on your stomach, try sleeping on a thin pillow, or don’t use a pillow at all.
  • To avoid putting pressure on your organs, sleep on your right side instead of your left side.
  • When you sleep on your back, elevate your knees and head. Roll up a small towel or T-shirt and place it under your head and place a pillow underneath your knees to give them extra height. This position should be very comfortable for people with lower back problems.
  • If you need to sleep on your side, place a pillow between your legs to prevent any pain in your hips or lower back.
  • If you sleep on your stomach, try sleeping on a body pillow to make this position more comfortable.

While certain ailments, such as back pain or hip pain, can make it hard for you to get a good night’s rest, there are specific positions that can reduce the symptoms of the problem you’re dealing with. Each position can pose other health concerns if not used in the correct way, but if you follow the aforementioned tips, you should have no problem drifting off to sleep.


More in category

Related Content