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What is the best sleeping position?

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Written By Alex Petrović

Certified Sleep Consultant

what is the best sleeping position

29 April 2024 6 min read

Did you know that sleeping in certain positions can harm your health? We know that specific sitting positions can cause back and neck pain, but the same thing can happen with unhealthy sleeping positions. So, same as we have to watch our posture during sitting, standing or walking, we have to take good care of our posture during sleeping, as well. So, what is the best sleeping position according to experts?

Medical experts agree that sleeping on the stomach should be avoided. Sleeping on your stomach is one of the unhealthiest sleeping positions that you can choose. But, what about sleeping with neck pains or back pains? Is it always good to sleep on your side? Or, what sleeping positions are good for snorers?

In this article, we are going to walk you through the perfect sleeping positions for different body parts or health issues. Here you can find out what is the best sleeping position for neck pain, for a cough, for infants or even for preventing wrinkles. So, let’s begin!

Neck – back and side best sleeping position

Sleeping on your back or on the side are the best sleeping positions for those who have problems with neck pain. Use a thinner pillow, preferably feather pillow, if you are a back sleeper. But, if you like to sleep on your side, use a bit thicker pillow, preferably a foam one. The trick is to elevate your head just right so that it can be at the perfect level with the rest of your body. That’s why you should aim for the firm, ticker pillows that are not too hard or too high.

a girl sleeping in a cmfortable sleeping position

Shoulders – side position with shoulders slightly rotated

One of the best sleeping positions for shoulder pain is sleeping on the side. Try sleeping on your side with your shoulders gently rotated and legs slightly bent. This way you will prevent putting any extra pressure directly on shoulders. You can add a thin pillow or a towel as an additional support for your neck. This position promotes healthy posture allocation and it’s good for neck, back and shoulders.

Upper back – side position with an extra support

To ease the upper back pain, take care of the general alignment of your body. You can place your body in a healthy position that is good for your upper back by using extra pillows. Place a pillow between your knees so that you can get your neck, spine and centre of your pelvis in a perfect line. In general, for upper back, the best sleeping positions are various side sleeping positions. You can sleep on your side with your legs almost straight, gently bent or bent.

a woman sleeping on side with bent arms

Lower back – on the back with the pillow under knees

One of the best sleeping positions for the lower back is sleeping on your back, but with the additional pillow support. Place a pillow under your knees so that you can promote your body alignment. You can also sleep on your side if you like it better. Just be sure to place a pillow between your knees. This will also help your spine and posture.

Internal organs – left or right side

When it comes to the relation between sleeping positions and internal organs, there are two things you should have in mind. First, sleeping on your side puts less pressure on your organs. Second, each side has its pros and cons.

Sleeping on your left eases acid reflux. Also, elevating your head with extra pillows helps with acid reflux.

Sleeping on the right side is better for liver and other internal organs.

So, the best sleeping positions for internal organs are on the side, left or right. But, since each side has some disadvantages, try to switch sides from time to time.

Snoring and sleep apnea – on the stomach or on the side

There is one simple rule if you want to avoid snoring: just avoid sleeping on your back. The best sleeping positions for snoring and/or sleep apnea are sleeping on the stomach or on the side. Since the sleeping on the stomach isn’t particularly good for spine, neck and internal organs, if you snore try sleeping on your side. Some studies have shown that sleeping on the side can help with bruxism and reduce the number of its episodes per night.

a woman sleeping on her stomach

Allergies or flu – on the back with a higher pillow

The best sleeping positions when dealing with the seasonal allergies or the flu are different variations of sleeping on the back. You can sleep on your back with your head elevated a bit, you can sleep on your back with an extra pillow under your knees for better body alignment, or, you can sleep in almost upright position (Some people find it easier to fall asleep if they elevate their heads with two or even three pillows when having the flu.). When having problems with allergies or the flu, the trick is to have an additional support for your head so that the gravity can help your clogged airways.

A cough – on the side

When dealing with an annoying cough, sleeping on the side is the best option. You can try sleeping on your back with your head elevated (just like when sleeping with allergies), but this is not always the best choice.

a woman sleeping on a side for having a cough

Infants – on their back

Infants should always sleep on their back for safety reasons. Avoid any other position because they can be extremely dangerous for babies.

Pregnancy – on the side with additional support

The best sleeping positions for sleeping during pregnancy are all combinations of side positions. Pregnant women can sleep on the side with legs slightly bent, on the side with a pillow between knees for better spine alignment and in the fetal position. Positions other then side ones can be uncomfortable and unhealthy.  

an image of a pregnant woman sleeping on side

Beauty – on the back

Sleeping on the back is the best for preventing wrinkles. To keep your skin young and firm avoid sleeping on the stomach or on the side. Also, sleeping on the back is good for maintaining the firmness of breasts.

a woman sleeping with an eye mask on her back


So, we saw all of the variations of different sleeping positions and what are they good for. Let’s make a little summary of the things we just learned:

 Neck, back, spine, shouldersSnoring and sleep apneaRespiratory systemAcid reflux and internal organsInfantsPregnancyBeauty

In general, sleeping on the stomach is the worst choice. It’s good only for those who have problems with snoring. But, sleeping on the side also reduces snoring, sleep apnea and bruxism.

The best sleeping positions are on the back and on the side. Choose to sleep on the back if you want to prevent wrinkling of the skin.

Also, if you have problems with acid reflux, choose to sleep on the side rather than on your back.

To conclude this summary, remember that quality of pillows and mattresses also plays a big role in healthy sleeping!

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About the author

Alex Petrović
Sleep Consultant
A CPD certified Sleep Consultant with more than 2000 hours of research into all the different ways we can get a great night's sleep. As a former insomniac, I know how difficult life can be without a nightly recovery and I love that I get to share everything I've learned with you all. So hopefully we can all sleep soundly!
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