Fact Checked

How Different Sleeping Positions Affect Your Health

Sleeping Positions Affect Your Health

Sleeping Positions Affect Health - (Image Credit: Shutterstock); Author picture - (Image Credit: Author)

Different Ups And Downs For Different Sleepers

Sleeping is something everybody needs, but not everybody sleeps the same.

Some prefer to be on their sides, some prefer to be on their bellies, some prefer to sleep on their backs, and some writhe around all night like a fish out of water, but in slow-motion.

Here’s WebMD’s advice on varying sleeping positions, and their health impacts. We’ll explore them here.

1 Facing Down

This is a position that can be quite comfortable, but it can also take some time to get in this position as you’re drifting off, which leads to tossing and turning.

Also, Web MD notes you can hurt your neck and back owing to pressures of gravity.

Their advice is to put a very soft pillow under your forehead to keep your airways clear and relieve strain on your neck.

If you’ve got back issues, you might want to try changing how you sleep to more efficiently serve your unique physical needs.

Facing Down

2 Facing Up

Those with heartburn tend to sleep better on their backs, facing up. If your heartburn is severe enough, you may have to lean against a pile of pillows at a slight angle.

Having Alka-Seltzer or other antacid solutions [1] available can be helpful in assuaging such difficulties. Sleeping on your back does tend to be healthy, but you may snore.

Most adults are going to snore at some point. This is something that others find irritating, and it can actually be unhealthy for you owing to issues related to sleep apnea.

If you find yourself waking up breathless in the night or getting smacked by your spouse with a pillow at three in the morning, you might try front-facing positions or side-sleeping positions.

Facing Up

3 Side Sleep

This is one of the most healthy positions to sleep in, but you can stress your hips if you’re not careful.

Going “full fetal” is pretty good for your spine alignment, but what’s even better is stretching your legs out a little bit.

The thing is, your hips can be compromised owing to the weight of your legs, so put some bedding or a pillow between your knees.

Sometimes if you’re a side sleeper, but you’re having trouble getting proper sleep, you might want to seek out a mattress for side sleepers[2].

Such mattresses are designed to help individuals who sleep in the side or fetal position both fall asleep quicker, and have a more restful night’s sleep overall.

Before you buy a new mattress, you definitely want to observe what sort of sleep most commonly defines you.

Side Sleep

Be aware of the position you’re in when you wake up in the morning. Generally, that’s going to be the one which most describes you.

You’ve noticed it yourself, likely: the most restful sleep you get at night hits toward the end of the night.

4 The “Marty McFly” Angle: “Starfish” Sleepers

Who remembers Back To The Future? Remember when Marty McFly, as played by Michael J. Fox, wakes up? It happens in a handful of scenes.

He plays a teenager in the film and sleeps with his arms all cattywampus. One arm is facing one way, one leg is facing the other, and his mouth is hanging open in slumber till he’s awakened.

This is the “starfish” position as outlined by Web MD. It’s a modified form of the back sleeper. Most who sleep in a “starfish” shape are going to be on their back.

Though there are likely a few people who sleep with their heads down and their limbs akimbo like that. At any rate, the same health conditions as back sleeping tend to affect starfish sleepers.

Starfish Sleepers

Basically, sleep apnea is possible, as are snoring issues. Back issues are reduced, and if you’ve got heartburn, the starfish position is often to be recommended.

However, especially if you’ve got a partner, this can be rather inconvenient. The difficulty is getting comfortable without throwing arms and legs all over the place.

It can be done, but it may take time.

Being As Healthy As You Can While You Sleep

Starfish sleepers tend to benefit from the same sort of mattress as back sleepers, and this position is conducive to those who have heartburn.

However, sleep apnea may make an appearance owing to increased snoring.

Traditional back sleepers have basically the same trouble as starfish sleepers, minus conflicts from sleeping partners.

Side sleepers are some of the healthiest, but it’s wise to get the right mattress and put bedding or a pillow between your legs.

Front-facing sleepers tend to have the most health risks regarding breathing difficulties and back problems.

At the end of the day, regardless of your preference, you want to sleep in a way that gives you the most rest for the following day’s needs.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only. The content on our website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or therapy. You should NEVER disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking treatment due to something you have read on our website and we will not be held responsible for any adverse health condition or injury that occurs as a result of doing so.

Rebecca Alston


I am Rebecca Alston and I am a 30 something mother, full time wife, and a foodie! I enjoy writing, decorating,...

View More


Get the latest in healthy living, nutrition & fitness, mental wellbeing, beauty & skincare, and more, straight to your inbox!



Your Privacy is important to us

Disclaimer: The content published on our website is to inform and educate the reader only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice from your doctor or other health care provider. If you have a specific health question or concern you must consult with a qualified medical professional and in the case of an emergency, immediately contact your local emergency services. The publishers of this website and the content take no responsibility for any detrimental health issues or injuries that result from following advice found in articles, reports/overviews, or other content on our website. All opinions expressed on this website are the opinions of the owners of this website. Many products and services featured on this native advertising site are selected by our editors which means we may get paid commissions on many products purchased through links to retailer sites via native advertising, this is disclosed throughout all relevant pages of the site. All trademarks, registered trademarks, and service marks mentioned on this site are the property of their respective owners. © 2022. All Rights Reserved.


All Health Web Magazine content is thoroughly reviewed and/or fact-checked by a team of health industry experts to ensure accuracy.

In keeping with our strict quality guidelines, we only cite academic research institutions, established health journals, or peer-reviewed studies in our content. You will be able to find links to these sources by clicking the numbers in parentheses (1, 2, etc.) that appear throughout our content.

At no time do we advise any of our readers to use any of our content as a substitute for a one-on-one consultation with a doctor or healthcare professional.

We invite you to contact us regarding any inaccuracies, information that is out of date or any otherwise questionable content that you find on our sites via our feedback form.