Back Sleeper Guide: Dr. Tips & Benefits

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Last Updated
March 11, 2022
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Sleep is humankind’s recovery magic bullet – a proper sleep can yield a laundry list of benefits and perks for daily life. This is especially true if you’re like 37% of people who sleep on their back.

Read on to learn more about sleeping on your back, its benefits, and how to train yourself for a supine snooze.

Benefits Of Sleeping On Your Back

Every sleeping style has its perks, but back sleeping may be the most beneficial by far. Curious to find out how your skyward-facing sleep style might be impacting your health? Here are a few reasons why back sleeping (or sleeping in the “supine position”) may be for you.

Helps With Spinal Alignment

Reclining in a neutral position is the closest you’ll get to perfect posture in bed, which means that your spine is stretched out and aligned throughout the night. But before you hit the hay straight-backed and stiff, slide a pillow or two under your knees to alleviate the pressure off your hips and help with spinal alignment.

Reduce Tension, Neck Pain, Headaches, And Shoulder Aches

Sleep is supposed to be restorative, but sometimes settling in a less-than-ideal position means you wake up feeling achy and unrested. Unlike sleeping on your side or stomach, supine snoozing can reduce the incidence of tension headaches and shoulder pain, which is especially common in side-sleepers. So, if you often wake up feeling sore, try sleeping on your back instead.

Reduces Pressure And Compression

Back pain and spine compression feel inevitable after a certain age, but did you know that the way you sleep can make things a little less painful? Beyond sleeping on a firmer mattress, sleep experts say that minding your alignment during sleep makes a huge difference.

As we mentioned earlier, sleeping in a supine position means your weight is evenly distributed across your body while sleeping. As a result, you put less pressure on your lower back and hips while resting (especially if you put a pillow under your knees). The same is true for spinal compression. Sleeping in a starfish position reduces pressure and compression buildup in any one area of your body – resulting in smooth sleep all night long. The starfish position is the practice of laying on your back with arms faced upwards.

Relieve Sinuses

Sleeping on your back with a flat pillow is actually one of the worst things you can do when you’re struggling with sinus pain, but there’s an easy way around this. When allergy season rolls around, consider swapping out your little pancake pillow for something fuller.

It doesn’t have to be big and fluffy, but you do want your pillow to be large enough to prop your head up. This steeper incline uses gravity to encourage your sinuses' natural draining, which means clearer airways as you sleep. This can be accomplished by using an adjustable bed frame.

Purple offers an adjustable bed frame that is designed to help improve your sleep quality and comfort.

lady on ascent adjustable base

Shop Adjustable Bed Frame

Prevent Facial Irritation

Sleeping on your side or stomach can be comfortable, but waking up to the feeling of a smushed face or a drool pool is never a great time. Sleeping like this can result in skin irritations that would've never happened if you slept on your back instead, not to mention wrinkles!.

Sleeping on your back means your face gets all the breathing room it needs to stay clean and clear from irritation and dirt buildup, so you don’t have to worry about stubborn red patches in the morning.

May Improve Breathing

When sleeping on your stomach or side, chances are you’re constricting your diaphragm in one way or another. But what does that mean? Because your diaphragm controls your breathing, compressing this sizable bit of muscle results in shallower breaths. This can impact your overall sleep quality and natural melatonin production, which means worse sleep overall.

One thing to always be slightly concerned about is if you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night feeling out-of-breath, you may suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, and should speak to a doctor immediately.

May Reduce Breakouts And Wrinkles

Here's a little-known fact about fine lines and breakouts: the way you sleep can significantly impact the appearance of premature wrinkles. Studies have shown that sleeping in a prone position (stomach sleepers) can increase the appearance of neck wrinkles and fine lines, sometimes even encouraging breakouts.

Sleeping in the supine position, on the other hand, doesn’t create these issues. On top of being the healthiest position for a snooze, your facial skin doesn’t come into contact with your pillow protector, which means you don’t have to deal with any of the friction and pressure-related problems of side and stomach sleeping.

How To Train Yourself To Sleep On Your Back

So, you’re sold on the positive impact of sleeping in the supine position, but you’re not quite sure how to transition from a fetal position or prone position. Fear not – all types of sleepers can make a few easy adjustments to support their natural alignment. Here’s how to adjust your snooze style and sleep in the supine position.

Find A Great Adjustable Bed

A good night’s sleep looks different for everyone, and some folks just need a more customizable experience for a sweet sleep. If you’ve tried everything without much to show for it, consider checking out our guide to adjustable beds for a personalized sleep experience – it might be just the thing for you.

Try Putting A Pillow Under Your Knees

Lying board-straight in bed isn’t actually all that great for sleepers with neck pain and body aches, as this puts a bit of pressure on your neck, lower back, and spine. If you’re new to sleeping in the supine position, support your knees with a nice, fluffy pillow. Your body will thank you later.

Let Loose And Be Patient

Like with any big change, give yourself a bit of time to adjust. Stay relaxed and be patient over the first few nights. Chances are, you’ll still be tossing and turning for a little while – this is normal.

Turning Your Back On Bad Sleep

There’s no one right way to sleep. However, relaxing on your back seems to be the right choice for everyone who isn’t pregnant, struggling with obstructive sleep apnea, or suffering from other airway issues. So if you’re struggling with staying asleep, switching over to a supine position might have you resting easier than ever.