The Best Sleeping Position for Different Sleep Problems

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It’s no secret that a lot of Americans are sleep deprived. In fact, more than a third of American adults are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC). Poor sleep is attributed to many negative health outcomes, including changes in mood and the ability to retain information, as well as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Did you know that the way you’re sleeping can affect your health, too? If you have back pain, snore or are pregnant we’ve compiled a list of tips to help you sleep more comfortably at night.

Recognizing a poor sleep position and making a change won’t happen overnight. You may need to play around with positions to see which is the most comfortable for you. Happy snoozing!

Jump To

Back Problems | Snoring | Pregnancy | Acid Reflux | Neck Pain | Hemorrhoids | Hip Pain | Arthritis

[Editor’s Note: The information provided should not be considered a substitute for professional advice. Please consult a sleep doctor or other medical expert if you have questions related to your own health.]

The Best Sleeping Position for Sleep Problems

Best Sleeping Position for Back Problems

Experts from the Mayo Clinic say that it’s possible to sleep in all positions with a back problem – you just need a strategically placed pillow. Here’s what they recommend:

  • Back: Placing a pillow under your knees will help to maintain the normal curve of your lower back. You might try a small, rolled towel under the small of your back for additional support.
  • Side: Place a small or full-length pillow in between your legs and draw your legs up slightly towards your chest.
  • Stomach: Place the pillow under your pelvis or lower abdomen. If you are comfortable with a pillow under your head you can try one there (otherwise removing a neck or head pillow altogether may feel the best).

RELATED: Best Mattresses for Back Pain

Best Sleeping Position for Snoring

According to the National Sleep Foundation, snoring occurs while you sleep when your throat muscles relax and your tongue falls backward into your throat, narrowing the passageway.  “As you breathe, the walls of the throat begin to vibrate – generally when you breathe in, but also, to a lesser extent, when you breathe out. These vibrations lead to the characteristic sound of snoring.”

To help reduce snoring, experts encourage people to focus on positions that allow your airways to stay open. More likely than not, this will be a side position or even the stomach.

RELATED: Best Mattresses for Snoring

Best Sleeping Position While Pregnant

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When you’re pregnant, your best position is “SOS” – sleeping on your side, according to the American Pregnancy Association. One side may be preferable to the other, according to experts. “Sleeping on your left side will increase the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the placenta and your baby,” the association said.

The American Pregnancy Association also recommends keeping your legs and knees bent and putting a pillow between your legs. A full-length pillow is also recommended.

Best Sleeping Position for Acid Reflux

“Sleeping facing the ceiling also ideal for warding off acid reflux. Just be sure to use a pillow that elevates and supports your head enough—you want your stomach to be below your esophagus to prevent food or acid from coming up your digestive tract,” says the team at the National Sleep Foundation.

Best Sleeping Position for Neck Pain

According to Harvard Health, sleeping on your back or side are the best options for those experiencing neck pain. Stomach sleeping is particularly tough on the spine due to the arched back and turned head throughout the night, which can result in neck pain. Because of this, back and side sleeping are recommended to minimize potential neck issues. For more tips on how to sleep with neck pain, check out our guide.

Best Sleeping Position for Hemorrhoids

To reduce anal discomfort caused by hemorrhoids, sleeping on your stomach may be the best option, according to the Midwest Hemorrhoid Treatment Center. Hemorrhoids (often called “piles”) are inflamed veins and tissue in the anus and lower rectum that can cause significant discomfort, especially by the end of the day. If you are concerned about balancing the pain caused by hemorrhoids with potential back pain as a result of stomach sleeping, sleeping on your side is another good option that can reduce anal irritation.

Best Sleeping Position for Hip Pain

Because the hip is a sensitive pressure point, you want to avoid placing too much weight on it. If you experience hip pain on just one side of your body, sleeping on your other side could be a good option (so if your left hip hurts, you would want to sleep on your right side). Back sleeping is also beneficial because it provides better weight distribution, keeping either hip from bearing too much strain. Placing a pillow under your knees or lower back can also reduce the pressure on your hips while back sleeping. Similarly, side sleepers can place a pillow under or between their knees to achieve similar pressure relief.

Best Sleeping Position for Arthritis

Because arthritis pain can vary greatly from person to person, there is no single sleep position that is best for people with arthritis. That being said, depending on the type of pain you experience, you may find some positions to be more comfortable. For example, someone with knee pain may find that side or back sleeping with a pillow under their knees could provide some relief. Additionally, those experiencing back pain from arthritis may find it helpful to sleep on their sides with a pillow between their knees.

Overall, the best way to reduce arthritis pain while sleeping is to maintain spinal alignment. You can use pillows (as mentioned above for both knee and back pain) to fill in gaps that may misalign the spine.

RELATED: Best Mattresses for Arthritis

[Editor’s Note: The information provided should not be considered a substitute for professional advice. Please consult a sleep doctor or other medical expert if you have questions related to your own health.]

Featured image: ZoneCreative/Shutterstock

Katie Golde

Katie Golde

Katie previously managed the day to day operations of the Mattress Clarity news site and reviews sleep products in addition to writing and editing sleep news. She hails from Austin, where she lives with her growing family. She is a Certified Sleep Science Coach and has a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University and has a background in health and science content. Her work can be found in print and online publications like Discover Magazine, USA Today and The Huffington Post.