What Side Should You Sleep On?
5 min read
The position in which your body feels most comfortable during sleep can tell you valuable information about your health. For example, a history of back or breathing issues can influence your preferred sleep position, and sleeping on a certain side may prevent, prolong, or help with those same issues.
Not everyone is the same, and while 60% of adults are side-sleepers, making it the most common sleep position, only some find this sleeping position easy to adopt.
You can reap certain benefits from side sleeping, but your positioning must be just right. Here is a detailed breakdown of side sleeping, how to do it correctly, and which side is right for you.
Which Side Is Best To Sleep On?
While everyone has a preferred side to sleep on, you may want to switch it up depending on specific health issues and circumstances.
Which Side To Sleep on When Pregnant
Anyone pregnant knows the struggle bedtime brings (especially if you were a stomach sleeper pre-pregnancy). While there are ways to make yourself more comfortable, like splurging on new bedding or investing in high-quality pillows and pillowcases, your sleeping position makes a major difference.
It's suggested pregnant women always sleep on their side as opposed to their back, but sleeping on the left side is optimal and may improve blood flow and overall comfort.
Which Side To Sleep on When Experiencing Heartburn
Heartburn is a common side effect during pregnancy and is very common in general as well. Most people have experienced heartburn or the more serious GERD at some point in their life, and 40% of Americans experience acid reflux on a regular basis.
Suppose you find yourself experiencing discomfort in your chest after a big meal, eating something very acidic, or drinking more alcohol than normal. In that case, you’re likely experiencing heartburn, acid reflux, or GERD. During one of these episodes, lay on your left side to remove pressure from your esophagus.
What Are the Health Benefits of Side Sleeping?
There are countless benefits to side sleeping. While certain conditions and circumstances call for different sleep positions, side sleeping may be more helpful for you than sleeping on your stomach or back in certain circumstances.
Below are the biggest perks of sleeping on your side.
It May Relieve Back Pain
Back and shoulder pain can be caused by numerous variables. While sometimes it’s a mattress issue, chronic pain, an injury, or getting older, dealing with back pain is far from a good time.
If you experience daily discomfort in your back but are an avid back or stomach sleeper, side sleeping may provide a better night's sleep. Stomach sleepers often experience low back pain due to the constant pressure this non-neutral position causes. Sleeping positions that can prevent this pressure are the fetal position or side sleeping.
It May Help With Snoring, Sleep Apnea, and Other Sleep Disorders
Constant snoring is a common side effect of sleep apnea. While it's not always a clear indicator that you have sleep apnea (or obstructive sleep apnea), it's not a bad idea to talk with your doctor.
Back sleepers often snore due to the tongue's position during back sleeping. Sleeping on your side can help open your airways while preventing unnecessary sleep obstruction.
It May Keep You Comfortable During Pregnancy
A good night's sleep often seems like a rare commodity when you’re pregnant, but your sleep is vital during this period.
Sleeping on your side during pregnancy can help maintain comfortable blood flow for you and the fetus, resulting in a more comfortable and restful night of sleep.
When To Consider Side Sleeping
We all know the old saying, “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” If you’re sleeping well and have no existing health issues or conditions, there’s no need to force yourself to sleep on your side every night.
However, if you’re experiencing discomforts like the ones listed below, it may be time to evaluate your sleep posture to improve the quality of your sleep.
Here are a few of the issues that sleeping on your side may help soothe:
- GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
- Acid reflux
- Lower back pain
- Aches and pains upon waking up
- Neck pain
In contrast, if you’ve tried side sleeping and it's simply not working for you and you are experiencing hip pain or shoulder pain, don’t be scared to switch to your back. If you aren’t experiencing difficulty breaking or signs of sleep apnea, back sleeping can be a healthy option.
How To Sleep on Your Side
To optimize your sleep quality, follow these tips and tricks to side sleeping.
Picking the Best Mattress
Finding the perfect mattress is no easy feat. It completely depends on a person's preferences. Some people find a soft mattress sends them into their deepest sleep, whereas others prefer a firm mattress to rest their heads upon.
If your current mattress leaves you feeling well-rested, refreshed, and free of aches and pains, there is no reason to switch it out. However, if you can’t seem to get comfortable at night regardless of your sleep position, your bedding or sleep posture may not be the issue. The culprit may be your mattress.
The optimal firmness in a mattress to reduce back pain or other aches is a medium firm option. A mattress that’s too soft lacks support, which can impede your spinal alignment.
In contrast, a mattress that’s too firm can add unnecessary pressure to your joints. Investing in a memory foam mattress may provide better sleep.
Get a Specialized Pillow
Investing in the best pillow for your sleep position may be a good idea if you officially switch to side sleeping. Side sleeping pillows offer extra support for your head and neck, supporting overall alignment in your body.
Feather or down pillows may not offer enough support — we suggest a latex pillow (or any firm pillow) to ensure optimal comfort.
Find a Symmetrical Sleep Position
The science of side sleeping isn’t as simple as you may think. While sleeping on your side can be beneficial, getting your body in the correct position is how you will reap the benefits:
- Lie your head on your specialized pillow.
- Align your chin and neck in your shoulders center and your shoulder in line with your hips.
- You don’t want your chin tilted down or twisted to the side, so keep your head straight, looking forward.
- Keep your arms and hands slightly in front of your body and aligned with each other.
- Place a pillow between your knees to relieve joint and hip pressure.
Your Bedding Matters Too
While your sleep position, overall sleep habits, and mattress play vital roles in your sleep quality, so can your bedding, which is why picking the best bedding is just as crucial.
High-quality, soft, and luxurious bedding can result in a night's rest as you’ve ever experienced. We believe that 500-thread count sateen weave sheets are the best way to do bedtime, especially when they’re made with all-natural silver like ours!
The Best Position for a Good Night’s Sleep
You might be able to benefit from switching up your usual sleeping position. If you deal with heartburn or are pregnant, sleeping on your left side is for you. If you’re plagued by constant snoring or sleep apnea, we suggest giving your right side a try.
Sleep is key to your overall health, so optimizing every aspect of your sleep environment — including your sheets — is vital to maintaining a healthy sleep schedule.
Science Update: Sleeping position during early and mid pregnancy does not affect risk of complications, NIH-funded study suggests | NICHD - Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development