Why You Should Stop Sleeping on Your Stomach

You know those tests that tell you which character type you are by the position you prefer to sleep in? I wish they also explained that not all of them are good for you. Sleeping on your stomach, tummy, belly, abdomen, gut, the front of your back etc. is comfortable for sure, but it’s also bad for your health, and sometimes – even dangerous. And here’s why: 1. Doctors say that when sleeping on your tummy, the arteries near your backbone get constricted because your head is turned to the side. As a result, blood flow to the brain gets limited. Well I don’t need that. For people who have bad cholesterol, and whose arteries are potentially blocked with plaque, this position can be dangerous. The brain can be left without oxygen altogether, and that’s no joke. It wouldn’t be this serious for everyone, but doctors are strict: they’d rather be safe than sorry. 2. Another bad thing about sleeping on your belly is that your chest gets compressed, which makes breathing less efficient. You wouldn’t get enough oxygen throughout your body, and would feel tired and groggy in the morning. It’s hard to recharge the batteries after a night like that. Also, soft tissue in the chest area suffers from extra pressure, and with time can develop congestion, mastitis, or cysts. 3. The stomach also suffers in this position. The organs that lay around our stomach will stop doing their job properly over time, and it’s not a very good trade off to sacrifice your health for the sake of your comfort. Also, if you go to sleep in this position on a full stomach, you could develop acid reflux, which is uncomfortable at best, and can lead to gastritis or an ulcer. 4. So, what about the face? When you wake up after sleeping a whole night on your tummy and look in the mirror… you know what I’m talking about. All the creases on the bedsheet are imprinted on your cheeks and forehead. When your face is pressed to the pillow for a whole night, blood circulation under the skin gets worse, which leads to puffiness. You might assume it’s due to water retention, but the reason is much simpler – your body position. Stretching and pressure on the skin lowers its elasticity. This issue doesn’t only exist temporarily in the morning. With time, wrinkles left from sleeping turn into permanent ones, especially on the cheeks and around the nose. You can also develop signs of aging on the neck and chest area, and they’re very hard to get rid of. If you’re trying to avoid these lines, it’s best to sleep in a different position. 5. Having your neck fixed in the same unnatural position for a long time should be addressed here too. In the area around the neck and shoulders, movement is restricted, and blood vessels and nerve-endings are constricted, which can lead to irreparable damage. Not to mention, you’ll most likely wake up with a stiff and sore neck no matter what. Having the correct support is important; so no matter what position you’re lying in, pick a pillow that keeps your neck in a natural position. 6. In this position you can cause the joints of knees, elbows and feet to twist in awkward ways, causing strain and soreness. 7. If that’s still not enough, the back bone will also suffer when you sleep on your belly. It’s an unnatural position for your spine, putting too much pressure on the middle of your back and causing it to be stiff and achy in the morning. In the long term, the muscles around the back bone can even become shorter. 8. If a person has problems with their heart, sleeping on their stomach adds extra stress on it, causing an excessive heart rate and a rise of arterial pressure. On the other hand, there are some cases when sleeping on your stomach can be good for your health. In newborns, this position releases cramps. A lot of babies love to sleep on their belly, and the reason for it is that they feel more secure. Also, babies should never sleep on their stomach with a pillow. But, most pediatricians advise that if they’re younger than 1 year old, they should sleep on their back or side. People who have kidney diseases might also feel better sleeping on their abdomen. When we lie on our stomach, there’s no pressure on the kidneys, allowing them to flush out and work easily. Sometimes it can be good to lie on your tummy if your back or shoulders are tired after sitting in front of a computer with bad posture. But it’s enough to lie down for a while and have a rest. Maybe after that, you can switch to a different position for the rest of the night to avoid some of the issues I mentioned earlier. Ok, so we’ve established that most of the time, sleeping on your stomach isn’t the best for us. But how on earth is it possible to kick this habit, if you’re not used to falling asleep any other way? The most efficient way is to sew a hair roller, or several plastic balls in front of your pajamas. They can be soft, but hard enough to make you feel uncomfortable when you lie on your belly. You’ll have to turn over on your back or side. If you don’t feel like sewing anything to your pajamas, you can just make 2 holes in 4-5 small plastic balls, thread a rope or soft belt into them, and string them on your waist. It may take some time for you to get used to this, but it’ll be worth it! Usually it takes 21 days for a new habit to form, and when you do find a new comfortable sleeping pose, you’ll wonder how you could sleep on your stomach for so long. As a last ditch effort and final resort, sleep on your back, and duct tape a small cactus on your belly. If you roll over on your tummy during the night, you’ll be sure to know about it. Actually I just made that one up. Now, what about choosing the position that suites your body best? Sleeping on your back with your feet on a pillow is best if you have problems with your back bone. It’s also the best beauty sleep: fewer wrinkles appear and your face won’t be as puffy. But it doesn’t work well for people who snore: snoring gets worse when you’re on your back, and you can feel short of breath. Sleeping on your left side lessens the symptoms of reflux; you’ll feel less nausea, and less discomfort. Some doctors also believe that it helps to shed weight at night too. And yet, it might not suit people who have trouble sleeping in general: scientists have noticed that you’ll have more bad dreams when you fall asleep on the left side. The embryo pose, with your knees pulled to your chest and your head pulled to your knees, is good for breathing and spine flexibility, but at the same time is bad for your neck. It would be bent for too long. Sleeping on the right side is good for blood pressure and lowers the risk of Alzheimer, but is strictly forbidden for pregnant women in the 3d trimester, because it can lead to problems with the development of the fetus. You can figure out what would be the best sleeping positon for you by understanding what your body needs the most. But in the case of particular health problems, consult your doctor, who can advise you on the best way for you to sleep. In fact, for most people, it’s good to change body positions during the night and sleep both on your back and on different sides.