Stomach sleepers, check out the warning in this TikTok video that’s gone viral: sleeping on your stomach with one leg bent is not good for you.
The video, produced by pillow manufacturer Levitex (who call themselves “sleep posture experts”), wants to inform the masses of stomach sleepers on what not to do.
In the video, the user explains that the position forces the leg muscles to extend to maintain the position—something your body won’t thank you for in the morning.
@levitex@ stomach sleepers♬ original sound – levitex
We asked a few sleep pros to weigh in: Is the information in this viral video legit?
Preston Brown, a physical therapist based in Wisconsin, said sleeping on your stomach is one of the quickest ways to self-inflict neck or back pain (not to mention stiffness).
“When you sleep on your stomach, the spine is twisted in all sorts of ways. If you sleep like this all night, it’s no surprise you wake up feeling stiff and sore,” Brown told Sleepopolis.
He sees lots of patients in his practice that deal with neck and back pain due to poor positioning during sleep.
“Sleeping on your stomach, puts your neck in an over-arched position, causing your neck or back muscles to tighten up and work even harder throughout a full night’s sleep,” he added.
Sleeping on your stomach may increase stress on your back. It can also strain your shoulders and the neck, he said.
“Waking up with a tight back, shoulders, or neck can wreck your day and lead to poor mood or even low energy levels,” Brown added.
“Unfortunately, sleeping on your stomach is (biomechanically) the worst position to spend eight hours asleep in,” Grant Radermacher, DC, a chiropractor from Wisconsin, told Sleepopolis.
“Having your cervical spine stuck in rotation for eight hours puts a ton of stress on the joints, muscles, and ligaments in your neck,” he said.
Sleeping on your stomach causes hyperextension of the lumbar spine and tilts your pelvis anteriorly, which jams spinal facet joints together and can contribute to low back pain. Many who sleep on their stomachs tend to sleep with their arms above their head, which puts their shoulders into an extended position; that can damage the ring of cartilage that keeps the ball of the shoulder tight in the socket known as the labrum.
Even though it can reduce snoring and sleep apnea, stomach sleeping is so detrimental to the spine, Radermacher said.
“Pretty much every sleep specialist recommends that patients try to transition to sleeping on their side or back,” Radermacher said.
Improving Sleep Posture
Want to try and correct your sleep posture? First, start off in the correct position.
“Try to fall asleep on your back or side. If you wake up in the middle of the night on your stomach, get in the habit of flipping over,” Radermacher said.
Using pillows can support you and maintain good spinal alignment. This can ease the stress on your hips, lower back, and surrounding muscles, Brown explained.
Place a rolled towel (as thick or thin as you need it) along the base of your pillowcase for neck support. Want better back support when lying on your side? Put a pillow between your knees to maintain good spinal alignment and try to prevent your top leg from falling over the bottom leg, which can lead to increased stress your hips, low back and the surrounding muscles.
If you like the comfort of having your whole body in contact with the mattress, try a body pillow with the lower half of the body pillow nestled between your knees for support. This can help keep you from flipping onto your stomach, Radermacher pointed out.
“Stomach sleeping is by far the most troublesome sleeping position for patients in my office,” Radermacher noted. He said breaking the habit of sleeping in that position can be a “real challenge.”
“But I tell my patients to keep with it—with time and practice, your body will learn to relax in a better, more spine-friendly position,” Radermacher added.