Sleeping on your back is generally considered the healthiest way to sleep. Despite this, it is estimated that only 14% of Americans sleep on their back.
That leaves the rest of us snoozing away on our sides or stomach. If you have decided you want to enjoy the benefits of back sleeping then you are going to have to train yourself to do it.
This article not only explores ways that you can train yourself to sleep on your back but also the positives and negatives of doing so.
What’s in this guide:
- How to train yourself to sleep on your back
- Benefits of back sleeping
- Disadvantages of back sleeping
If you want to learn to sleep on your back then you have come to the right place. Let’s take a look a closer look at how I learned to sleep on my back.
How to train yourself to sleep on your back
The first thing to remember is that training yourself to sleep on your back won’t be easy. So don’t be disappointed if you fail to sleep on your back through the first night let alone the first week.
I know because I challenged myself to sleep on my back. And yes, before you ask, it was the opportunity to keep my breasts perky and my face wrinkle free that sold me on back sleeping. I am a vain thing.
Now before I started this whole thing I was a side sleeper. Attempting to sleep in any other position would just see me lie awake at night, restless. It turns out that habits are hard to break.
But that’s all a sleeping position is. A habit. And while it may be hard work, habits can be broken.
I am now happy to report that I am a habitual back sleeper. In fact, I now can’t sleep any other way.
Here’s how I trained myself to sleep on my back and how you can too!
1. Look closer at how you currently sleep
You obviously are not a back sleeper, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this guide. So that narrows it down to two other options; you are either a stomach sleeper or a side sleeper.
There is a reason that you sleep in this position. It’s because you find it comfortable.
So now you must take a closer look at why you find this position more comfortable than back sleeping.
My reasons for preferring side sleeping included:
- I enjoy the weight of the pillow squashed against one side of my face, even if my wrinkles don’t
- I did not enjoy the pressure applied to my hips when sleeping on my back
2. Attempt to apply these comforts to back sleeping
If you can recreate the same feeling of comfort as your preferred position while sleeping on your back then you will much likely stay in this position through the night.
Now you might need to get a little creative here. And you might not get in right the first time. I certainly didn’t.
The first comfort I decided to focus on was the feeling of pressure against my face.
I started with this one because I thought it would be the most simple to fix. I simply lay a small throw pillow over my face. I fell asleep easily, the familiar feeling of weight against my face was all it took for me to drop off into the land of snooze.
I did not stay there. Through the night the pillow would slide off my face. And with it gone I naturally returned to my side sleeping position.
So I tried a replacing my current pillow with a bigger one, but as I would shift my head the pillow would slide over my face, hampering my breathing.
Third times a charm. Having identified that the problem was with the pillows moving around I chose a solution that would stay put. A sleep mask. I simply placed the sleep mask over my eyes while the band held it in place, the mask applied a soft and familiar pressure, the same sensation I received from side sleeping.With one comfort out of the way I now had to sort out the discomfort in my hips. Reading up on the problem it appeared the solution was simple, a pillow under the knees would help reduce the pressure placed on the lower back.
An easy fix. I also found that the pillow under the knees locked me in place, preventing me from rolling around at night.
Persistence is the key
Overall, training myself to sleep on my back took around three weeks. That does not include the trial and error of figuring out how to apply the comforts of side sleeping to back sleeping.
If you don’t succeed the first night, keep trying. By constantly evaluating what is and isn’t working like I did you will eventually be able to train yourself to sleep on your back.
After all, they wouldn’t call it training if you could do it in one night.
Extra Training Tips For Back Sleeping Success
Below are some pieces of advice that lead to our readers successfully training themselves to sleep on their backs:
Molly from Utah says:
Place a pillow under each arm while sleeping on your back. The pillows will lock your body into position preventing you from rolling over in your sleep.
Jennifer from Florida says:
Wedge pillows are where it’s at. They are uncomfortable to lay on in any other position than on your back, so there is no motivation to roll over.
Glenn from California says:
Be sure that your mattress doesn’t sag. I learned the hard way that is near impossible to sleep on your back on a saggy mattress. While I couldn’t outright afford a new mattress, a firm mattress topper did the trick for me.
Alice from Texas says:
If you are changing from stomach or side sleeping then it is likely that your pillow is not suitable for back sleeping. Too thin and your head will angle uncomfortably. Too thick and you will throw your head forward and have trouble breathing at night. Thin but not too thin worked best for me, with enough loft to cradle my neck.
Benefits from sleeping on your back
1. It’s the best sleeping position for your spine
Sleeping on your back is the ideal position for your spine. By sleeping on your back you are allowing your head, neck and spine in a neutral position, preventing sleep strain.1
Here is a quick fix for those of you that find sleeping on your back puts pressure on your hips: A small pillow under your knees will further reduce the stress placed on your lower back and help support the natural curve of your spine while sleeping on your back.
2. Sleeping on your back can prevent break-outs
If you have sensitive skin then you may find that the oils, dirt and even washing detergents from your pillow can cause a break out.2
If you are a stomach or side sleeper then you will spend up to eight hours of your night you’re your face smooshed into your pillowcase which can lead to acne.
Sleeping on your back prevents you face from coming into contact with your pillow. This means that these irritating substances on your pillows surface cannot come into contact with acne prone areas on your face. It also means you won’t have to clean your pillow case every other night.
3. Sleeping on your back can prevent wrinkles
Perhaps you have looked in the mirror recently and noticed fine creases around your eyes are more noticeable on one side of your face. These wrinkles likely appear on the side of your face you sleep on.
They are called sleep lines for a reason. If you sleep on you stomach or side then one side of your face will squash into your pillow, creasing your skin, which can cause these wrinkles to appear.3
While you can use a beauty pillow to reduce the pressure on your face or a satin pillow case so that your skin doesn’t catch, the easiest way to prevent wrinkles is to sleep on your back. By sleeping on your back no pressure will be applied to your face, preventing sleep lines from forming.
4. Sleeping on your back may prevent your boobs from sagging
While this point is aimed at women, if you are a male you might want to mention this to your significant other. After all, I am sure you enjoy your partners perky breasts as much as she does.
You may be surprised to learn that your sleeping position can cause your breasts to become less perky over time out.4
Sleeping on your stomach will squash your booby bits into your mattress while sleeping on your side can case the ligaments to stretch over time.
If you want to maintain perky breasts then sleeping on your back is the best position, regardless of whether you wear a bra to bed or not.
Disadvantages of sleeping on your back
Unfortunately back sleeping may not be a appropriate for you if you fall into one of the following categories:
1. If You Suffer From Obstructive Sleep Apnea
If you suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) then you will likely want to choose an alternative position to sleep in. Research indicates that the onset of sleep apnea is twice as high in back sleepers than those who sleep.5
2. If You Are Prone to Snoring
Even if you do not suffer from sleep apnea, laying on your back can cause you to snore. In this sleeping position your tongue and soft palate rest on the back wall of your throat, applying more pressure to your airway This can lead to a vibrating sound during sleep as air passes through the narrower opening known as snoring.6
However, many people sleep on their back just fine without snoring like an elephant in heat. If you are unsure whether or not you snore, ask your friends and family. Just be prepared for a brutally honest answer.
3. If You Are Pregnant
Just when you thought pregnancy couldn’t get any tougher, your baby-to-be prevents you from sleeping on your back. This is a particular problem in the second and third trimester of pregnancy, when the weight of the baby inside your body becomes noticeable.
Sleeping on your back with a baby inside of you is not only uncomfortable but may even harm your baby. When you lie on your back, the baby weight inside your uterus presses down on the vena cava, the main vein that carries blood back to the heart from your lower body causing blood flow to slow. This not only reduces the blood flow to your fetus but can leave you feeling dizzy, nauseated and short of breath.7
As you can see there are both pros and cons to sleeping on your back. You will have to decide for yourself whether or not back sleeping is appropriate for you.
Do you have any training techniques for back sleepers that you recommend? Let me know in the comments below!