It’s estimated that only 8-10% of adults sleep on their backs, and although there are some pros and cons to sleep on your back it’s widely regarding as the best sleeping position.
Some of the pros to sleeping on your back includes:
Good spinal alignment – If you’re experiencing back pain as a result of the position you currently sleep in you might find switching to your back resolves the issue.
Back sleeping allows for our bodies to maintain the most natural alignment. You’re not forcing any unnatural curves by arching or twisting on your side.
Prevents wrinkles – You can actually reduce the signs of aging and keep wrinkles at bay a little longer by sleeping on your back.
When you sleep on your front or side you’re pressing your face into your pillow. This puts pressure on the skin on your face, and can also cause acne.
Can reduce acid reflux – Acid reflux affects around 60% of the population in some form throughout their lives, and it’s often more prevalent at night.
While there is some debate on this subject as it doesn’t always help everyone, elevating your head with a pillow and sleeping on your back helps some suffers a lot.
Sleeping on Your Back Isn’t for Everyone
There are also some cons to back sleeping meaning it isn’t the perfect position for everyone. A couple of the main drawbacks are:
Sleep apnea – Sleep apnea is a condition where the sufferer actually stops breathing in their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times throughout the night.
If you suffer from sleep apnea it’s not recommended that you sleep on your back as it can worsen the problem, you should follow medical advice to manage the condition.
Snoring – Snoring is the cause of many conflicts between couples and although the person snoring often isn’t aware of it, it’s a huge problem in relationships.
Sleeping on your back can worsen your snoring so it’s the last thing you want to do.
How to Learn to Sleep on Your Back
With the above pro’s and con’s taken into account, whether you want to learn how to sleep on your back or you’ve been recommended to do so by a healthcare professional, you can do it in a few steps.
Step 1 – Surround Yourself with Pillows
By surrounding your body with pillows you find a comfortable position to sleep in on your back while getting all the support you need.
Make sure the pillow you’re resting your head on isn’t too thick. Try and keep your spine and neck alignment as natural as possible.
Most people find a pillow under each arm helps a lot. Some people really can’t sleep with their arm raised, find out what works best for you. If you move a lot in your sleep though they will help keep you in place.
The pillow under your knees is pretty important. You will likely find you move onto your side in the night the first few times you try this, try and keep the pillow between your knees if you do.
Step 2 – Listen to Your Body
You should always take note of any aches and pains you’re feeling after a night’s sleep. Ignoring these signs can lead to more serious issues in the long-term.
As you start sleeping on your back listen to the signs your body is giving you. If you have pains in any areas relieve some pressure with a pillow or look at the state of your mattress.
Step 3 – Be Persistent
It’s actually a lot more difficult than it sounds training yourself to start sleeping on your back. Think about it, you’ve been sleeping in the most natural and comfortable position for you for a number of years.
All things are achieved through persistence and patience, however.
If you’re really struggling try going to bed when you’re really tired so you fall asleep quicker. Or, do something to take your mind off what you’re doing. Maybe read a book, or what worked for me was listening to meditation podcasts.
If you get frustrated with the process, keep in mind why you’re doing this. If you need to retrain yourself to sleep on your back for health reasons then you need to conquer it.
Realistically it should only take a few weeks at most. You should start waking up on your back or in a position near to how you drifted off after a week or so.
Although it will feel different at first and you might have a twinge or pain in places you’ve not felt before, this is part of the conditioning and completely normal.
I wish you luck and hope you enjoy your new sleeping position and all the health benefits and restful night’s sleep that come with it.
I’m a MA, (CMT) Certified Massage Therapist, Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT), and Reiki Master — I’m a licensed massage therapist with over 10 years of experience in the industry.