How Sleeping Positions Affect Sleep Quality
Our review shares findings regarding how sleep positions can affect sleep quality. We discuss regular sleep positions and the core pros and cons of each position, and whom they are most suitable for. Lastly, we dive into FAQs to address need-to-know insights while helping shed light on the best mattress to suit your sleep position and improve sleep quality.
What Does Science Tell Us?
Unfortunately, no one solution or sleep position’s the “best” for everybody, as everybody’s demands and preferences vary. Factors such as age, back and shoulder pain, snoring, sleep apnea, and pregnancy can result in variances in our go-to sleeping positions.
So what does science tell us?
Science tells us that your sleeping position DOES affect your sleep quality.
For those suffering from back and shoulder pain, science has shown that’s it best to sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees or in a non-supine position. For people struggling with obstructive sleep apnea or snoring, side sleeping has decreased the frequency of events and aids sleepers with GERD.
Contrary to popular belief, lying flat on your back (where your back cannot maintain its natural curve) is not recommended and may result in increased orthopedic pressure. If you don’t see yourself changing from being a back sleeper, put a pillow beneath your knees to alleviate spinal pressure and reduce back pain.
Stomach sleepers are a challenging case, as many stomach sleepers suffer from snoring or sleep apnea. Additionally, if you are a stomach sleeper, chances are you’ve experienced neck and shoulder pain. To combat these symptoms, place a thin pillow under your lower belly.
For those of us who are side sleepers, we make up around 55% of the sleep population. Sleeping on your left side has been shown to improve digestion, reduce heartburn, and reduce snoring. To help keep your spine and lower legs aligned, consider putting a pillow between your lower legs.
The age and wear of your mattress can significantly affect how well you can make your mattress firmer. Bear in mind; most mattresses last between 8 to 10 years. Added wear-and-tear, quality of materials, and atmosphere can affect longevity by two years.
Type of Sleepers
To optimize your sleep quality as a back sleeper, place a pillow beneath your knees. The best-rated mattress for back sleepers would be The Nectar Lush Mattress ($1,099
$1,398), or for as little as $62/month.
- Relieves hip and knee pain
- Reduce back and joint pressure
- Protects against winkles
- Avoid if you have sleep apnea
- Improper support can hurt you
- Not ideal for people who snore
The majority of the population are side sleepers. Try sleeping on your left side on the Saatva Classic to optimize your sleep quality, the most popular luxury hybrid innerspring mattress. Perfect for side sleepers, you can finance the Saatva Classic for only $67 a month.
- Improves digestion
- Reduce acid reflux (heartburn)
- Significantly reduces snoring
- Can lead to jaw tightness
- Can contribute to wrinkles
- Neck pain from poor pillows
Heavyweight sleepers meet their match with the pressure relief and innerspring coil support of the DreamCloud Premier queen mattress ($1,199
$1,399). Finance at 0% APR for only $67 per month and get a lifetime warranty and a risk-free 365-night sleep trial.
- Lifetime warranty
- 365-night sleep trial
- Free shipping and returns
- Runs out of stock quickly
- Less than 3,000 5-star reviews
- The mattress is only 15” thick
Sleepers suffering from snoring or sleep apnea may benefit from stomach sleeping, although it causes unnecessary strain on the neck, back, shoulders, and joints. The Puffy Lux Queen ($1,495
$1,795) memory foam mattress is the best mattress for stomach sleepers, has lifetime warranties, and can be tried risk-free for 101 nights. Finance for only $84 per month.
- Helps relieve snoring
- May help those with sleep apnea
- May reduce lower back pain (pillow)
- Wake up feeling sore
- Back and joint strain
- Neck and back pain
Combination sleepers regularly switch sleeping positions (one side, back, stomach, or opposite side) in one night. We believe the best mattress for combination sleepers is the dreamy Dreamcloud Luxury Hybrid Queen ($899
$1,099), available for only $75 a month (lifetime warranty and 1-year sleep trial).
- Can adjust to snoring
- Can combat sleep apnea
- Can aid in digestion
- Combo sleepers require more room
- May be hard to keep the spine align
- May need a stronger fitted sheet set
The Bottom Line
For the best sleep, mattresses should support your regular sleeping positions. For side sleepers, that means gravitating towards a mattress that’s a hybrid, innerspring, or gel-infused memory foam mattress, not a firmer, all memory foam mattress for back sleepers. Leverage our sleep position guides to unlock the best mattress with exclusive online savings up to 30% OFF.
- Does my sleeping position affect my sleep quality?
- Yes, your sleeping position can greatly affect your sleep quality.
- Which sleeping position is best for back and should pain relief?
- The best sleeping position to reduce lower and upper back pain is on the back with a pillow under your knees or lower legs. The pillow will help the body maintain the natural curve of the spine while distributing pressure more broadly.
- Which sleep positions are best for snoring and sleep apnea?
- Sleeping in a non-supine position or in a side position can decrease the frequency of events.
- What is the most common sleeping position?
- Research reveals that side-sleeping is the most common sleeping position, representing about 55% of the population.
Written by: Mike Stownel
Staff Writer - Researcher
Mike is an experienced Researcher and Writer. Now his challenge is to test, compare, and review the best sleep products like mattresses, pillows and sheets