Washington Post: Here are the pros and cons of different sleep positions, and how to pick the best one for you.
For generally healthy people, sleeping on your back, or in the supine position, may help with spine alignment, the experts said. It can also help prevent or ease back and neck pain, because it provides more support. It’s important, though, to make sure you have a quality mattress and an appropriate pillow, said Timothy Morgenthaler, co-director of the Center for Sleep Medicine at the Mayo Clinic. Many people who sleep on their backs may develop neck pain because they’re using a pillow that’s too thick, he said.
Rachel Salas, a sleep neurologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep and Wellness, also recommended using a second pillow or a rolled towel under the knees to prop them up, which can relieve some pressure on the lower back.
But the supine position is not for everyone, such as people who have obstructive sleep apnea or snore. “Sleeping on your back can obviously make snoring and apnea worse, just because of the way gravity works against you when you’re on your back,” Salas said. But the supine position is not for everyone, such as people who have obstructive sleep apnea or snore.
Snoring, which is often associated with sleep apnea, usually happens when a person’s airway is obstructed, said Rafael Pelayo, a clinical professor in the sleep medicine division at Stanford University’s School of Medicine. “The biggest thing about snoring is the tongue, and so the tongue will slide back when you sleep on your back.”