The Best and Worst Sleeping Positions and Their Effects on Health!

Getting a good night’s sleep is one thing everyone craves! And it is vital, too, for your physical as well as psychological health.

The importance of a good night’s sleep has been supported by countless studies. Lack of sleep has been linked to many health problems, from obesity to heart disease, from dementia to diabetes and from hair loss to premature aging signs.


Still, many people do not get the required sleep. According to a 2014 report by the National Sleep Foundation, 45 percent of Americans reported suffering from a lack of sleep at least once in the past 7 days.

What are the factors for the missing good night sleep:

– Room environment
– The bed/mattress
– The stress level
– The Diet

These are some of the reason why we cannot have good night sleep. But among these reason body positions seems to be the key for the missing sleep.

How is that possible?

The positions you have while you sleep affect your health in general. Sleeping posture can be contributor for brain disorders like dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. But also sleeping position can be responsible for snoring, acid reflux, heartburn, sleep apnea and believe it or not even wrinkles.

1. Sleeping on your Back, Arms at Sides

Position: Lying down on your back with your arms resting at your sides. This position is also known as the ‘soldier pose’.

on your back arms at sides

Health Effects:

Pros – Sleeping on your back is usually considered the best position for your spinal health, as the back remains straight. It reduces pressure on the discs, thus preventing pain in the neck and back.

Also, sleeping on your back reduces acid reflux, helps maintain perky breasts and minimizes facial wrinkles.

Cons – Sleep apnea and snoring are common issues associated with back sleepers.

When you sleep on your back, gravity forces the base of the tongue to collapse into the airway. This obstructs breathing and causes snoring that can keep your partner up at night.


If sleeping on your back causes snoring and breathing problems, you can combine this position with a side sleep pose. The combination of the two positions will help you sleep soundly and wake up more refreshed.

Try to sleep on your back without a pillow to keep your neck in a neutral position. Make sure not to use too many pillows, as it can make breathing more difficult. It is best to use a large pillow under the back of your knees to support the natural curve in your lower back. You can also use a buckwheat pillow under your head to support your neck when you lie down.

2. On Your Back, Arms Up

Position: Lying down on your back with your arms resting beside your face and above your head. This is also called the ‘starfish’ position.

Health Effects

Pros – the spinal and the neck health require back sleeping. In this position your spine and neck are reduced from the pain because of the lowered pressure on the discs.

Also in this position the stomach is able to sit below the esophagus which prevents and reduces acid reflux.

You are also protected with obtaining facial wrinkles and skin breakouts.

Cons – this position can cause snoring a little bit or pain on the nerves in the shoulders because of the raised arms above the head.


Place your head, neck and spine to rest in neutral position by not using a pillow. With this position you will avoid extra pressure on those areas while you are sleeping.

3. On Your Side, Arms at Sides

Position: Sleeping on your side with both arms positioned downward in a straight line. This is also referred to as the ‘log’ posture.

on your sides arms a side

Health Effects:

Pros – This is an ideal sleeping position for the spine, as it receives complete support in its natural curve. The straight spine not only prevents back and neck pain but also reduces sleep apnea.

In addition, sleeping on your side also reduces snoring. This is the best sleeping position for pregnant women.

Cons – As the top leg does not get enough support in this sleeping position, chances are high that you may develop back or hip pain in the future. Also, side sleeping can lead to skin aging (facial wrinkles and sagging breasts) due to gravity. It can even cause neck pain.


As this position can cause neck pain, use a thick pillow to support your neck. For your pillow, always use a satin pillowcase to prevent facial wrinkles.

Also, place a pillow between your thighs to support your top leg.

4. On Your Side, Arms Out

Position: Sleeping on your side, with your legs slightly bent, arms outstretched and head slightly angled off center. This is also known as ‘the yearner’ position.

Health Effects:

Pros – With this position you can avoid back and neck pain. Not to forget that snoring is reduced on minimal level and you can ease heartburn and acid reflux.

Not only this, this sleeping posture even allows the body to clear waste from the brain more efficiently and reduce the risk of developing brain disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Plus, people who sleep in this posture are less likely to wake up in the middle of the night. This is mainly due to the comfort your body gets during sleep.

Cons – this position can cause pain in the shoulders because of the restricted blood flow. Nerve compression may place strain on internal organs like the stomach, liver and lungs, which can cause discomfort.


Satin pillowcases can reduce the appearance of wrinkles and a pillow between your legs can help you to support the legs.

5. On Either Side

Position – Sleeping on either your left or right side.

on either side

Health Effects:

Pros – Side sleeping is beneficial for those suffering from neck and back pain, acid reflux, snoring and sleep apnea. People are less likely to snore in this posture, as it keeps the airways open. This posture is recommended for people who have sleep apnea.

Side sleeping also elongates the spine, which helps reduce back pain.

Sleeping on the left side is beneficial for pregnant ladies, as it helps improve blood circulation to the fetus.

A 2012 study published in BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth suggests that sleeping on your left side during pregnancy can increase healthy blood flow and provide the optimum oxygen levels for you and your baby.

Cons – Sleeping on the right side may worsen heartburn troubles. On the other hand, sleeping on the left side may put a strain on your internal organs like the stomach, lungs and liver. If you suffer from any kind of stomach, lung or liver problem, switch to the right side.

Side sleeping can even contribute to premature aging, due to gravity leading to facial wrinkles and sagging breasts.


If you prefer sleeping in this position, put a pillow between your knees. Also, use a satin pillowcase to reduce the chance of wrinkles on your face.

Plus, avoid resting your head (or whole body) on a single arm. It is recommended to keep the arms resting by your sides.

6. Fetal Position

Position: Sleeping all curled up on either side, in a ball-like position with your knees drawn up to your chest and chin tilted down.

Health Effects:

Pros – Great position for pregnant ladies and also reduces the snoring on minimum.

Cons – Sciatic nerve pain can be cause in the future because of the pressure put on the neck and back.

Solution: Use a firm pillow to support your head. It is also recommended that people sleeping in this position alternate sides during the night.