Everyone has a preferred sleeping position that helps them fall asleep, and for some people, the only way to get comfy is to sleep on the stomach. However, most sleeping positions have some drawbacks when it comes to supporting the body, and stomach sleepers are at the most risk of back problems. Even if you fall asleep easily, your body still needs proper support, elevation, and alignment throughout the night. One way to help give your body that support is by sleeping with the right pillow.
Common Pains For Stomach Sleepers
So, how does being a stomach sleeper affect your actual sleep and health? Let’s get into some of the most common side effects of the stomach sleeper position.
1. Back Pain
If you sleep on your stomach, your spine can become misaligned or overly strained. This happens because gravity pulls on the weight in the chest and belly, which adds pressure and creates an arch shape in the spine. Back pain can also come from not having enough pelvic support, which misaligned the spine as well.
With how central your spine is in the body, both literally and figuratively, having your back out of place or overly stressed has a domino effect and can create other pains in the body. Plus, the spine is also connected to the nerves of the body, which can also be affected by back pain. The spine instead needs to be supported to where it can stay aligned in the neutral position.
2. Shoulder Pain
Stomach sleepers are also more prone to shoulder pain. When the middle of your body sinks lower into the mattress, it leaves your shoulders holding more weight and tension, often leading to shoulder pains. Sometimes, to compensate, stomach sleepers put their arms up and under their pillow, but this can also cause stiffness and achiness.
3. Neck Pain
The neck takes on a lot of pressure like the shoulders do, perhaps more. When you sleep on your stomach, you force your head on its side, which often creates tension, strain, and pressure on the neck. Straining the neck like this can also mess with your spine alignment and even pressure points. If stomach sleepers deal with pain when they move their head side-to-side when they wake up, that’s a sign that the neck doesn’t have enough support and alignment.
4. Pregnant Pain
Most women with a baby bump won’t be able to sleep on their stomach anyway; but, even in early pregnancy before you’re really showing, the added weight can still add to your discomfort and spine misalignment. Pregnancy can be uncomfortable as it is, so sleeping on your stomach can add more unnecessary stress to your back without supportive bedding.
What You Should Consider When Buying A Pillow?
Yes, there are downsides to sleeping on the stomach, but you don’t have to give up your most comfortable way to sleep just yet. Stomach sleepers make up the smallest group compared to side or back sleepers, but sleeping on your stomach can help with some things, like snoring. Instead of retraining your body to sleep a different way, look at these pillow factors that prevent strain and misalignment.
- Loft: The loft of a pillow refers to its height. A taller pillow will bend the head back far more than necessary for a stomach sleeper, so stomach sleepers should go for a low loft pillow. Pillows can have a low, medium, or high loft, but a low loft is usually 3 inches or lower. Sometimes a medium loft works, too, but it depends on the size of the head and how comfortable it is for each individual. The most important thing is minimizing the angle of the head so that the neck isn’t strained.
- Shape: Depending on how well the pillow’s material is made, a pillow can quickly lose its shape and structure. This isn’t ideal for stomach sleepers, so don’t go for the cheapest option you can find: you’ll usually pay for it with a deflated pillow. Latex will usually retain its shape, and memory foam should bounce back to its original shape despite contouring to the body during the night.
- Breathability: Because stomach sleepers have their face in the pillow most of the night, breathable material allows you to still sleep on your stomach and prevent snoring without feeling suffocated.
- Firmness: How firm a pillow is can affect both your comfort and your support. Depending on your body weight and what feels most agreeable to you, the firmness levels vary from soft, medium, and firm. Stomach sleepers usually go for a soft or medium firmness. The key is finding a material that contours to your head and keeps your neck aligned with the spine more without sacrificing support.
- Pressure Relief: Look for a material that helps relieve pressure from the neck and shoulders. Pillows that do this cradle and absorb the head’s weight. Memory foam and latex both do this particularly well.
What Pillow Should Stomach Sleepers Use?
Memory Foam Pillow
Memory foam pillows are pretty popular, especially among stomach sleepers. Not only are they plushy and soft, but they still have supportive firmness, too. This pillow is best at contouring to the head from body heat and pressure, which does a great job of cradling the head. Memory foam also allows for decent sinkage, meaning your head and neck will have an easier time aligning the spine.
Latex pillows are also well-liked by stomach sleepers for their breathability and medium-level contouring. Latex is also especially good at relieving pressure. This pillow is a firmer option, so if you prefer some firmness while still getting a supportive shape for your head, latex is a solid option. These do retain more heat, so see if there are cooling components in the latex pillow you’re considering.
Down is the under-feathers of geese or ducks and is the go-to pillow for softness and adjustability. Softer than typical feather pillows, down is ideal for stomach sleepers who need a malleable pillow throughout the night as they move sleeping positions. You can usually add or remove down material if you need to adjust the loft of the pillow, too. Enjoy a decent head cradle for support and more tailored options with down pillows, but be prepared to fluff them often, too.
Down-alternative is similar to a down filling, but in this case, the filling is a synthetic material that mimics traditional down filling. This scenario is a little more specific, but stomach sleepers often need more pelvic support, so they sometimes place a pillow under the hips to realign the spine. A down-alternative pillow is a cheaper option than a down pillow, which may be all you need to spend on a stomach sleep pillow.
It’s Time For Supported Sleep
If you’re a stomach sleeper for life, that’s okay! To protect your body and get better sleep, invest in sleep products that supports you. Serta products come with variety, comfort, and most importantly, quality structure.