Let’s face it - if you sleep on your stomach, you’re violating the rules of healthy sleep posture. Admittedly, that’s a stretch - there are no rules against sleeping on your stomach (unless you have certain medical conditions) and it’s not a crime.
However, when compared to sleeping on your back or side, stomach sleeping is considered the least favourable for a truly healthful and refreshing sleep.
But that doesn’t mean that if you’re a stomach sleeper, that you can’t continue to be one. It just becomes more important that you find one of the best pillows for stomach sleeping. Fortunately, we’re here to help you do just that.
The Issue with Stomach Sleeping
Whether you feel it or not, sleeping on your stomach is physically taxing. It puts strain on your neck and back, which ultimately leads to poor sleep quality and bodily discomfort throughout the day. When you sleep on your stomach, the natural curvature of your spine actually reverses.
A reversal of this natural curvature puts additional stress on your nerves, vertebra, and other joints of your body. Your skeleton will then try to compensate for this by shifting natural positions into unnatural ones - your neck is a good example of this as it is more likely to twist.
All of this misalignment causes fatigue, aches, pains, and more serious problems such as herniated discs. And the effects are insidious - you won’t notice them after one day or even several weeks. But keeping it up for months and years will no doubt catch up with you.
Stomach sleeping often accompanies other habits that tempt us to lie on our tummies. Take, for example, the use of laptops, tablets or even our smartphones. Many of us lie down on our stomach to use them. In fact, one study found that 15% of college students used their laptops while laying flat on their stomach. And this doesn’t change much in older age groups.
The Bottom Line
We can’t tell you not to sleep on your stomach at all, especially if you have a medical reason for doing so.
Just keep in mind that stomach sleeping is the most physically taxing position your body can endure, and you’re more likely to experience discomfort as a stomach sleeper. That’s where your choice of pillow matters. The right pillow won’t completely protect you from the potential effects of stomach sleeping, but it can reduce its impact.
The Best Pillows for Stomach Sleepers
The best type of pillow a stomach sleeper can use is a thin one. A thinner pillow prevents the neck from tilting in awkward positions, which is quite likely to happen when someone sleeps on their stomach. The straighter the neck, the more neutral spinal alignment will be. If the pillow is too thick, your neck will arch upward resulting in neck and shoulder strain.
It’s also a good idea to sleep with a pillow underneath your abdomen or pelvis to maintain your natural spinal curves. Doing so reduces the strain on your lower back muscles, preventing aches and pains throughout the day. Keep in mind that stomach sleeping is still not the healthiest position, but using your pillows strategically can reduce the pressure on your body.
The Best Material for Stomach Sleepers
- Down – Down pillows can be great for stomach sleepers. The reason for that is the malleable fill allows you to shape the pillow as needed. Loft can also be adjusted in some Down pillows by adding or removing fill. This material is typically soft enough for stomach sleepers and its cradling effect is able to support the head and neck.
- Down-Alternative - The nice thing about many Down-Alternatives is that they offer a balanced mix of support and softness. This is ideal for stomach sleepers because they need more support for their spinal alignment, but not so much so as to cause discomfort.
- Feather – This pillow fill compresses easily and conforms to the shape of the head with ease. As these pillows are soft and lightweight, they can be a great choice for stomach sleepers. However, unlike Down or Down-Alternative pillows, they don’t retain their shape very well so require regular pillow fluffing.
Choosing the Right Pillow for Stomach Sleep
If you sleep on your stomach, it’s important to remember that you will need more spinal support than your back and side-sleeping counterparts. Your hips and spine are more likely to sink into the mattress, which throws off your spinal curves and can lead to back problems in the future.The right pillow for your neck and stomach can reverse the worst of these effects. So, make sure to take care of your back by minding your front.