8 Reasons Why You Should Stop Sleeping on Your Stomach

It is an age-old debate about what position is best to sleep in, and people always seem to be intrigued to find out how the way you sleep differs from them. One position a lot of people choose to sleep in is on their stomachs. Whilst many might find this the most comfortable, there are some major health risks that sleeping on your stomach can bring. In this article, we will talk about 8 reasons why you should stop sleeping on your stomach.

Image: BruceBlaus

1. Lack of Oxygen Flow to the Brain

When you lie on your stomach, it is most likely that you will also have your head turned to the side. Unless, of course, you magically know how to breathe through a pillow! The angle your neck is at here can lead to the constriction of the arteries near your backbone. This can, in turn, cause the blood flow to the brain to be limited. If blood flow to the brain is restricted too much, then this can increase your risk of getting a stroke.

This is something especially concerning for people who suffer from high cholesterol levels, and who have plaque building up and blocking their arteries. For these people, sleeping on their stomachs can lead to the brain being completely deprived of oxygen.

2. Compresses Your Chest

Another reason why you shouldn’t sleep on your stomach is that it can constrict your chest and compromise your airway passages, leading to breathing becoming difficult and less efficient. If you are not able to breathe properly, then oxygen transport will be affected, and won’t be able to get around your body. This can lead to you waking up feeling very tired, groggy, and moody, which no one wants! It makes the famous saying “waking up on the wrong side of the bed” seem very real.

This reduced oxygen transport, and sometimes blood flow, can also cause you to wake up with tingling in your neck, joints, and muscles, which is not very nice to experience. This compression also leads to the soft tissue in your chest being put under a lot of pressure. This can then lead to more serious issues such as congestion, cysts, and mastitis.

3. Bad for Your Stomach

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise to find out that lying on your stomach isn’t going to be great for the health of your stomach. This sleeping position can lead to the organs surrounding your stomach not function the way they should be. Furthermore, if you go to bed after eating a large meal and have a full stomach, and then proceed to sleep on your stomach, this can increase your chances of getting acid reflux. Acid reflux is rather unpleasant and can often make you experience heartburn more often. It can also lead to more severe issues including gastritis and ulcers. You don’t want that, do you?! 

4. Reduces Blood Circulation in the Face

When you lie on your stomach, your face is likely going to be heavily pressed into your pillow. I’m sure you’ve all been there, waking up in the morning with creases on your face from where you’ve been deep asleep. However, this shows that you have been putting a lot of pressure on your face, and this is something that can restrict blood flow and circulation. This can cause a lot of puffiness in the face, which I’m sure many of you would rather avoid. Excessive stretching and pressure on the skin, such as that exerted on your face when sleeping on your stomach, reduces the elasticity in your skin. 

Therefore, if you consistently sleep on your stomach every single night, then you are more likely to notice that wrinkles caused by sleeping turn into permanent ones. This happens especially on your cheeks and near your nose. Sleeping on your stomach can also cause similar, pre-mature signs of aging on your neck and chest and is something very hard to reverse. The best thing you can do is change your sleeping position. 

5. Increases Neck Pain

When you sleep on your stomach you will likely have your head flexed at quite an unnatural angle for a prolonged period. This can constrict movements in the area around the neck and shoulders, whilst also leading to the constriction of blood vessels and nerve endings. This is very serious and can lead to you experiencing a lot of pain, discomfort, and even irreparable damage. One thing is for sure, you will wake up with a very stiff neck! An issue that can occur from consistently sleeping with your neck at such an uncomfortable angle, is that it could eventually lead to you getting a herniated disk. This is when one of the gelatinous disks between your vertebrae bursts.

The gel inside then starts to bulge out from the disk, which can press on and irritate nerves, leading to you feeling pain and numbness in many different parts of your body. This neck pain means that you are highly likely to wake up in the morning not feeling very rested. It is therefore important that you get good-quality neck support, no matter what position you sleep in. You want to find a pillow that will help to keep your neck comfortable and in a natural position. 

6. Damages Joints

Often, people who sleep on their stomachs will put their legs and arms at strange angles, twisting the joints of their knees, elbows, and feet. This can lead to a lot of strain and make your joints feel very sore. You will likely wake up with very stiff legs or arms, and if you sleep on your stomach long-term then this could even become more of a permanent issue and increase your chances of developing joint issues, such as arthritis. 

7. Causes Back Pain

When you are sleeping on your stomach, you are usually at an angle that is not natural to your spine. Most of your weight is being put in the middle of your body, and this means it is difficult for your spine to stay in a comfortable, neutral position when you are asleep. This puts a lot of pressure on the center of your backbone and is why you might wake up in the morning feeling very stiff, sore, and achy. 

This can then also make you wake up still feeling tired and unrested, which won’t be a great start to your day. Sleeping on your stomach every single night, long-term can even lead to the shortening of the muscles surrounding your backbone. When this happens, it can sometimes cause compression of vertebrae discs and press on nerves. When your back isn’t being supported properly, this can lead to issues in the support of other structures in the body too, meaning the pain may not be isolated to just your back. 

8. Puts Stress on Your Heart

This is an issue particularly relevant to those who have heart troubles. Sleeping on your stomach puts excess pressure on your heart and leads to your heart rate becoming extremely high. This, in turn, causes a rise in your arterial blood pressure, which is not good for the health of your heart and can lead to other, very severe issues. 

So, there you have 8 reasons why you should stop sleeping on your stomach. It puts excessive pressure on multiple areas of your body and is a position that is going to increase the likelihood of you waking up feeling stiff, uncomfortable, and not very well-rested.

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