Sleep Positions

People come in all different shapes and sizes, so it’s natural that everyone prefers different sleep positions. Surprisingly, there’s no right or wrong sleep position.1 The best position is the one that allows you to have the most comfortable, deep sleep.

There’s no need to change your sleep position if it’s working for you. But if you wake up in pain or have trouble sleeping, you can take steps to explore other options.

On Your Stomach

For some people, sleeping on their stomach can cause some back and neck discomfort. If this is a comfortable position for you, though, there are a few tips you can follow to reduce aches and pains.

  • Place a pillow under your pelvis and lower abdomen to alleviate some of the pressure on your back.

  • Depending on how this position feels, you may or may not choose to use a pillow under your head.

  • Adding a firm pillow under your shins might put your knees and ankles in a loose, mid-range position.

If you like sleeping on your stomach but want to explore other positions, you could try sleeping on your side while holding a body pillow. The body pillow will give you the feeling of pressure against your stomach while allowing you to sleep in a different position.

On Your Back

It’s possible that sleeping on your back is the best position to relieve your pain. When you sleep on your back, your weight is evenly distributed and it’s spread across the widest area of your body. You could try placing a pillow underneath your knees to help further reduce pressure on your spine and keep your knees in a loose, mid-range position.

On Your Side

If lying flat on your back feels uncomfortable, try shifting over to your side.

  • Allow your shoulder and the side of your body to make contact with the mattress.

  • Try placing a pillow between your knees.

  • If there’s a gap between your waist and the mattress, consider adding a small pillow there for added support.

It’s also a good idea to periodically switch which side you sleep on to relieve pressure from certain parts of your body.

If you’ve been sleeping in the same position for a long time, switching to a new sleep position can take some time to get used to. Don’t be afraid to explore a few different sleep positions until you find what works for you.


  1. O’Sullivan, P. B., Caneiro, J. P., O’Keeffe, M., Smith, A., Dankaerts, W., Fersum, K., & O’Sullivan, K. (2018). Cognitive Functional Therapy: An Integrated Behavioral Approach for the Targeted Management of Disabling Low Back Pain. Physical Therapy, 98(5), 408-423. doi:10.1093/ptj/pzy022