It may seem comfortable to you, but is sleeping on your stomach bad for you? Perhaps, and here is why sleeping on your stomach is a bad idea. The vast majority of people give no thought to the position they sleep in. Perhaps they should! If you sleep for the average of 7-8 hours each day (or night!) that is the length of time that your body weight is distributed over the area of your body in contact with your mattress.
If you are expecting a baby, then it goes without saying that you should not sleep in this position. You would be putting excessive pressure on your growing child. However, what are the issues if this does not apply to you? Here are three reasons why you may decide that sleeping on your stomach is a bad idea.
1. Lack of Support for Your Spine and Neck
When you sleep on your stomach your spine has not much support. It can, therefore, sag downwards, not only putting excessive pressure on your vertebrae in the opposite direction to what it is used to but also applying specific pressure to the vertebrae in your neck.
This excessive pressure on your spine can affect your entire body. Your spinal cord is the major communications center of your body. It is from here that all the signals that make your body work correctly are distributed. Upset this and you are liable to suffer pain in your back, neck and even your legs. This tends to wake you up during your sleep cycle and keeps you/ feeling tired and washed out during the day (or night if you work during the night).
2. Twisting to the Neck and Spine
When sleeping on your stomach, you are forced to turn your head one way or the other to breathe. This twists your neck. This in turns changes the angle of your spinal column between your head and the upper part of your spine. This may not only lead to neck and back pain but also severe damage to the spine in general. This will not happen immediately, but it is almost sure to over time.
Not everybody can suddenly change their sleeping position. People who have been sleeping on their stomach most of their lives may feel that there is no need for them to change. Why should they change? They have had no problems when sleeping on their sides! It’s a good question, and there are not many answers to it that you can prove to them!
However, you can provide them with some advice: advice on how to mitigate the effect that sleeping on their stomach can have on them. Here is the advice that you can offer. It is provided with good scientific backing and a background of helping to save many people from serious damage to their health.
3. Selecting the Correct Mattress
- Select a mattress that has been designed specifically with stomach sleepers in mind. Such mattresses tend to be firmer than normal. They allow you to sleep well on your stomach without excessive strain on your spine.
- Make sure you use a thin pillow. This reduces the angle of your neck in relation to the rest of your spine. In fact, many front sleepers use no pillow at all.
- Purchase a mattress designed for stomach sleepers. Again, it will generally be firmer than normal and will prevent your spine from sinking out of alignment.
- Keep in mind the issues involved with sleeping on your stomach. By placing a pillow or another form of padding under your pelvis, you will force your back to remain in a natural position. This will reduce the pressure on your spine that sleeping on your stomach would normally create.
- If you are pregnant, then avoid sleeping on your stomach. Not only might this apply direct pressure to the growing baby, but the increased weight a pregnant woman has in her abdomen will pull her spine down even more out of alignment that if she were not expecting a child. This can lead to permanent issues with the spine.
- Pregnant women should sleep on their left side, not on their stomach or on their back. Check out this study by Stacey and Mitchell on Sleep Position and the Risk of Late Stillbirth. You can find the background and entire article here on BMC Pregnancy Childbirth.
Why Sleeping On Your Stomach Is a Bad Idea: Conclusion
You may compromise the health of your baby if you continually sleep on your stomach. You will also likely compromise your own health by doing so. There are many reasons why you should not, and just as many reasons why you should not. However, it can be said that the effects on your health are generally long term.
By getting off your stomach, you may avoid several health issues, particularly those related to the effect of sleeping on your stomach. While this may be directly related to your choice of mattress, side sleeping has always been recommended as the best sleeping position along with back sleeping.
This is why sleeping on your stomach is such a bad idea! You lose the strength between the vertebrae and the disks of your spine. Your vertebrae can flex to an extent, but this can be negated if your sleeping position tries to force it out of its natural alignment. Never fight against nature and the way it protects your body. To do so would be to bring a number of physiological conditions upon you.
The above facts explain why sleeping on your stomach is a bad idea. If you feel an overwhelming need to do so, then keep in mind that you may be compromising your general health. That said, it is generally accepted now that there have been so many studies made on sleep that these guys know what they are talking about!