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Sleeping position and the pillow – how to choose?

10 January 2022
Sleeping position, sleeping positions, side sleeping, back sleeping, stomach sleeping
Sleeping position is one of the fundamental issues in everyone's life. This is because our body's behavior depends on our sleeping position, especially our spine, for about 8 hours a day, or 1/3 of each day. Since a human being lives an average of 25,915 days, it can be calculated that a person sleeps for about 207,320 hours during their lifetime. The quality of sleep during this entire time depends on a healthy sleeping position and proper sleep hygiene.

We usually don't spend the whole night in one sleeping position. We change positions completely at night unconsciously. We also unconsciously make other movements that may affect our sleeping position and the final effect we will get after waking up. Some people prefer to initially fall asleep in one position, such as lying on their back, but they may wake up on their side or stomach. This may be due to the action of muscles and the nervous system, which automatically react to stimuli received during sleep.

The impact of sleeping position on biopsychosocial health and functioning is huge. Just as we do not allow ourselves to drive dangerous cars or consume chemically processed food, we should also not ignore the quality and functionality of products that are responsible for comfortable sleep. Therefore, it is important to have the right highly elastic foam mattress and an appropriate orthopedic pillow that will allow us to maintain natural spinal curves during sleep.
Best sleeping position, supine position, back sleeping, sleeping positions

Which side to sleep on is healthier?

Research shows that between about 93% to around 96% of the human population sleep in a side or back position. Sleeping on the side is the most popular sleeping position used by the largest percentage of people in the world. This is due to natural instincts, as it most closely resembles the fetal position, which is associated with safety and warmth.

This sleeping position requires placing a pillow between the knees, which will directly prevent adduction of the legs, thus reducing the risk of hip pain by maintaining anatomical alignment. The Skin classic pillow is ideal for this purpose and additionally contributes to skin nutrition and regeneration.

In the side sleeping position, the hands should be kept together and slightly bent at the elbows, which will help prevent many unpleasant conditions while also bringing greater relaxation. However, it should be avoided to place them under the head or pillow, which may result in even shoulder damage and incorrect head positioning, and consequently neck pain or other ailments.

Sleeping on the side may not always be healthy and comfortable. There are many differences between sleeping on the right side versus the left side. When choosing your favorite sleeping position, you should primarily follow health criteria. As a rule, the healthiest sleeping position for most people is sleeping on the left side.

Sleeping on the left side relieves the heart, allowing the cardiovascular system to function properly throughout the night. It also prevents pressure on the stomach, spleen, pancreas, and intestines. This translates into the fact that this sleeping position is recommended for reflux as well as many other ailments. It also helps those suffering from diabetes and in alleviating symptoms of insomnia. It facilitates the movement of food content into the intestines and speeds up digestive processes. Therefore, it is also a sleeping position recommended for people struggling with obesity or other metabolic disorders.

Sleeping on the right side causes too much pressure on the stomach and pancreas, which increases discomfort associated with reflux. This sleeping position also causes additional pressure on the intestines and spleen due to a significant increase in abdominal pressure. As a result, it makes it difficult for these organs to function properly, slowing down digestive processes. Above all, sleeping on the right side causes the heart to pump blood against gravity, making its work more difficult. Therefore, this sleeping position is not recommended.

Sleeping on the left side is the healthiest sleeping position.

Regardless of which side to sleep on, each requires proper head support and spinal support in an anatomical position. Therefore, it is essential to take care of an orthopedic pillow that allows for fully unrestricted and comfortable side sleeping while at the same time keeping the head in a straight line with the spine throughout the night.

When choosing a pillow that will serve best for side sleeping, pay special attention to make sure it does not press on the face, which could cause various discomforts, such as causing headaches upon waking up. Its dynamic nature and ventilation are also very important, which are provided by open-cell high-resilience foams type HR.

Orthopedic pillows available on the market for side sleeping that meet these conditions are:
Sleeping on the side as a sleep position is best for people above 2 years old and can basically be maintained throughout their duration. It does not matter about weight and height, as it is suitable for everyone. However, when sleeping on the side, the recommended mattress firmness is ideally from 6.0 to 7.0.
Sleeping supine, what position to sleep in, pillowless sleep, orthopedic pillow

Is sleeping on your back healthy?

Sleeping on your back, also known as back sleeping, is also very popular and ranks second in terms of its positive impact on health. Many people believe that this sleeping position is the best for maintaining a healthy spine, provided that it is done on a good mattress that provides the user with proper body support and spinal alignment.

This sleeping position, also known as supine sleeping, is quite specific. On the one hand, it eliminates the risk associated with internal organ compression and significantly reduces heartburn, allowing for a neutral, physiological spinal position. On the other hand, this sleeping position blocks sinuses, which leads to snoring while increasing the risk of sleep apnea. Of course, this assumes the use of a healthy mattress.

In addition, sleeping on your back causes increased stress on the lumbar spine, neck, and head. This is due to the effect on pressure points that this sleeping position exerts. Moreover, in the European market, it is very difficult to find a pillow that adequately supports the neck when sleeping on your back. Almost all orthopedic pillows available on the market have a wave or soap shape. They are not designed for back sleeping, but rather adapted exclusively for side sleeping. They are therefore improperly contoured and decidedly too high to maintain the anatomical alignment of the neck.

There are few pillows that allow for proper support in this position. The clear quality leader in such products remains orthopedic pillows for back sleeping produced by the Polish company ONSEN®, which include: Fully ergonomic pillows from ONSEN® are suitable for both sleeping on the back and on the side. Therefore, they are appropriate for all of the healthiest sleeping positions. Their anatomical profiles allow for sleeping on the back in their central parts, while supporting the side parts when sleeping on the side.

Sleeping on the back as a sleeping position is recommended only for people over 20 years old. However, this sleeping position is not recommended for younger people because their skeletal system is still developing and sleeping in this position could significantly disrupt that development. The result of sleeping on the back for younger people may be the reduction of cervical lordosis, as well as acquired scoliosis or other spinal problems.
Correct sleeping position, position for high blood pressure, healthiest sleeping position

Why shouldn't you sleep on your stomach?

Fortunately, sleeping on your stomach is the least popular sleeping position, with only about 7% of the human population using it. At the same time, this is a sleeping position that is generally not recommended due to its potential negative effects on health.

This sleeping position is harmful to the cervical spine due to the non-physiological retraction of the head, as well as to the respiratory system due to compression of the diaphragm. It leads to increased tension in the neck muscles and joints. Continuous maintenance of the head in a bent position can lead to stiffness and neck pain, as well as more serious disorders of the cervical spine.

It can also significantly worsen difficulties associated with medical conditions such as sleep apnea, asthma, or sinusitis. Sleeping on your stomach may also cause new problems for healthy individuals. Even healthy people may experience breathing difficulties when sleeping on their stomachs. This leads to a lack of oxygen and reinforces an abnormal breathing pattern.

If you decide to sleep on your stomach, there are certain recommendations that you should follow. It is important not to use additional pillows, as they can significantly worsen the situation. A pillow under the head can increase tension in the neck and spine, causing severe pain and discomfort. In this position, the spine is not in a natural alignment, which can lead to postural disorders and severe pain in the cervical and lumbar spine.

It should be noted that sleeping on your stomach is simply not beneficial for anyone. Its impact may be lower only for young, slim, and physically active individuals who have strong and flexible muscles by definition. Older people, those who are obese, suffer from spinal conditions and back pain, or other ailments should definitely avoid this sleeping position.

In this sleeping position, it is also important to take care of sleep hygiene, which includes daily evening rituals and an appropriate quality of mattress and pillow. Regularly performing good stretching exercises for the spine can help maintain its flexibility and reduce the risk of painful complaints. Additionally, attention should be paid to an appropriate pillow, which will provide physiological support for the head without causing excessive bending of the neck.
How to sleep properly, best sleeping position, side sleeping, back sleeping

How does sleep position affect sleep comfort?

The position in which you sleep has a significant effect on sleep comfort and the quality of rest. Therefore, choosing the right sleeping position is crucial for health and overall well-being. There are several positions that people prefer during sleep, such as sleeping on your back, side, or stomach. However, the healthiest is sleeping on the left side, which has a positive effect on the spine and the rest of the body.

ONSEN® in a long-term design thinking process involving a team of specialists, has created orthopedic pillows, whose design has been adapted to the problems and needs of humans. Their task is to support natural curvatures of the spine both when sleeping on the side, as well as during sleep on the back. Therefore, they meet the highest standards, regardless of the adopted sleeping position.

It should be remembered that the sleeping position is also a criterion for choosing a mattress. Meanwhile, a long process of prototyping and testing, as well as an analysis of various scientific research, has allowed us to create Osaka Air mattress, which is suitable for virtually all people sleeping on the side and on the back, as well as most people sleeping on their stomachs. With a firmness of 6.5, it has a universal mattress firmness.

We also encourage you to explore other articles on the best sleep and health blog, as well as the Encyclopedia of Healthy Sleep prepared by the ONSEN® team of specialists. For those who care about spine health, we recommend a set of spine exercises prepared by our physiotherapist.
Sleeping position, skincare, night cream, carotenoids, orthopedic pillow

FAQ: Sleeping position

What are the sleeping positions?

The most common sleeping positions are side sleeping, back sleeping, and stomach sleeping. Besides these, there are other sleeping positions, such as the roadkill position. However, they are not widely practiced. Approximately 93% of people sleep in a side or back position.

In which position should one sleep?

The healthiest sleeping position is on the left side. Sleeping on the left side allows for optimal functioning of the circulatory and digestive systems, resulting in better health and rest. It provides the body with the best opportunity for regeneration.

In which position should one not sleep?

Sleeping on the stomach is definitely not recommended. Sleeping on the right side is also not advisable. Sleeping on the right side puts excessive pressure on the stomach and pancreas, and it can cause circulation-related difficulties. Sleeping on the stomach additionally leads to excessive rotation of the cervical spine and unnatural alignment of other spinal segments. Both of these sleeping positions are not recommended.

Why should one not sleep on the right side?

Sleeping on the right side is not recommended because this sleeping position forces the heart to pump blood against gravity, weakening the circulatory system. Additionally, it increases the pressure within the abdominal cavity, resulting in organ compression and slowing down the digestive processes. Moreover, sleeping on the right side can cause reflux and even lead to insomnia.

Why should one sleep on the left side?

Sleeping on the left side is recommended because this sleeping position relieves the burden on the heart, strengthening the circulatory system. It also maintains physiological pressure within the abdominal cavity and allows organs to function freely. Sleeping on the left side improves digestion and enhances the body's regenerative abilities.

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