Home / Blog June 05, 2024

6 min read

Mastering The Back Sleeping Position

Back sleeping, also known as the supine position, involves lying flat on your back with your head, neck, and spine aligned in a neutral state. This position is often recommended for its numerous health benefits but also comes with some disadvantages

back sleeping position


Lying flat on your back helps with proper alignment of your head, neck, and spine.

On the flip side, the supine position can worsen sleep apnea symptoms like snoring.

Back sleeping has been associated with higher levels of openness to new experiences.

Did you know?
Sleeping on your back can help maintain your skin’s health by preventing facial wrinkles that occur from pillow pressure!

The back sleeping position is a common and often recommended posture for sleep, especially for those seeking to improve spinal alignment and reduce pressure points. However, like any other sleeping position, it has its pros and cons. Before we delve into this, let’s first consider what this position really entails.

What is Back Sleeping?

Supine positions involve lying flat on your back with your head, neck, and spine aligned in a neutral position. Here’s a detailed breakdown of this position:

Head and Neck: Your head rests on a pillow that supports the natural curve of your neck without tilting it too far forward or backward.

Arms: Your arms can be positioned in various ways—either at the sides, on the stomach, or even above the head, depending on the variation that’s most comfortable for you.

Legs: Your legs are usually extended straight, but other sleepers might bend their knees slightly or place a bolster pillow under them for added comfort.

Spine Alignment: The spine is kept in a neutral, natural position without any twists or significant bends.

So, are there any advantages to snoozing while on your back? Let’s talk about this next!

Benefits of Back Sleeping

Here’s why some sleepers prefer supine positions:

1. Spinal Alignment

Sleeping on your back maintains the natural curve of the spine, reducing strain on the spine and surrounding muscles. This ensures that you do not experience discomforts like lower back pain.

2. Reduces Pressure Points

Back sleeping distributes body weight evenly across a broad surface, minimizing pressure points and reducing the likelihood of developing sores or discomfort in the limbs, for instance. This position also alleviates pressure on the shoulders, hips, and other joints compared to side or stomach sleeping positions.

3. Prevents Wrinkles and Skin Aging

By sleeping on your back, you’ll keep your face free from contact with pillows, reducing the risk of developing sleep lines and wrinkles. This is because supine positions reduce the chances of skin irritation and breakouts caused by friction and pressure.

4. Reduces Acid Reflux

Elevating the head slightly with a pillow can help prevent stomach acid from traveling up the esophagus, when you’re sleeping on your back. Gravity helps keep stomach acid in place, promoting better digestion and reducing heartburn or acid reflux at night.

5. Alleviates Sinus Congestion

Back sleeping with your head elevated can help improve sinus drainage, reducing nasal congestion and ensuring you can sleep soundly in spite of a stuffy nose. This position also keeps pressure off the sinuses, potentially relieving sinus headaches and discomfort.

6. Reduces Risk of Tension Headaches

Because back sleeping maintains a neutral position for the neck, this can reduce tension and prevent headaches caused by muscle strain. This can be particularly helpful if you tend to wake up with headaches.

7. Improves Breathing

Back sleeping can help keep your breathing space less strained like when sleeping on the side in the fetal position, for instance. Because of this, when sleeping on your back, you’re better able to practice diaphragmatic breathing, which has been associated with a reduction in feelings of anxiety upon waking.

Next, let’s look at the potential downsides of sleeping on your back.

couple back sleeping

Disadvantages of Back Sleeping

While most back sleeping positions have many benefits, they also have potential cons and may not be suitable for everyone. Here are some downsides of sleeping on your back:

1. Snoring

When in supine positions, your tongue and soft tissues in the throat may collapse back, obstructing the airway and increasing the likelihood of snoring. Also, airflow becomes turbulent as it passes through a narrowed airway, contributing to snoring sounds.

2. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

For people with sleep apnea, snoozing while on the back can exacerbate the condition by increasing the chances of airway collapse. This can lead to frequent awakenings, reduced oxygen levels in the blood, and overall poor sleep quality.

3. Lower Back Pain

Without proper support, sleeping on your back can cause or worsen lower back pain. The natural curve of the lumbar spine can be exaggerated, leading to strain and discomfort.

4. Discomfort for Pregnant Women

In later stages of pregnancy, lying flat on the back can compress major blood vessels like the vena cava, reducing blood flow to the heart and the fetus. The added weight of the uterus can cause increased back pain when lying on the back.

5. Risk of Aspiration

For sleepers with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), there’s a risk of aspirating stomach contents into the lungs, especially if you don’t elevate your head sufficiently.

6. Facial Swelling

In some cases, lying flat on the back can cause fluid to accumulate in the face, leading to puffiness and swelling when you wake up from your slumber.

7. Psychological Discomfort

Some people may feel psychologically uncomfortable or vulnerable when lying on their back, leading to restlessness and difficulty falling asleep.

In the next section, we consider who supine positions could be most suitable for.

Who is Back Sleeping Best For?

Supine positions are best for certain groups of people who can benefit from their specific advantages. Here are the key groups who may find back sleeping particularly beneficial:

People with Spinal or Neck Pain: The back sleeping position helps maintain a neutral spine alignment, which can reduce pain and discomfort in the back and neck. This position minimizes pressure on the spine and supports the natural curve of the back.

Those with Acid Reflux or GERD: Elevating the head slightly can help prevent stomach acid from traveling up the esophagus, reducing the risk of acid reflux. Gravity helps keep stomach acid in place, promoting better digestion and reducing heartburn.

Sleepers Suffering from Sinus Congestion: Sleeping on the back with the head elevated can help improve sinus drainage and reduce nasal congestion. Keeps pressure off the sinuses, potentially relieving sinus headaches and discomfort.

People Prone to Tension Headaches: The back sleeping position maintains a neutral position for the neck, reducing tension and preventing headaches caused by muscle strain.

Those Recovering from Surgery: Check with your doctor before trying back sleeping post-surgery. This is because supine positions are often recommended for post-surgery recovery, as they minimize movement and pressure on the affected areas, aiding in healing.

In the next section, let’s consider tips and tricks on how to make back sleeping as comfy and cozy as possible!

Sleep Tips For Comfortable Back Sleeping

Here are some tips to help you sleep well in the back sleeping position and support your back effectively:

1. Choose the Right Pillow: Use a bolster pillow like our Cuddling which supports the natural curve of your neck to maintain proper spinal alignment. The Cuddling isn’t too thick or too thin, ensuring you keep your head in a neutral position without tilting it too far forward or backward.

2. Position Your Arms Comfortably: Let your arms rest naturally at your sides or place them in a comfortable position that doesn’t cause strain or discomfort. If it feels comfortable, you can also try placing your arms above your head, but ensure it doesn’t cause any shoulder tension.

3. Practice Relaxation Techniques: Engage in deep breathing exercises or progressive muscle relaxation techniques to help your body relax fully before bedtime. Practice mindfulness meditation to calm your mind and prepare it for restful sleep.

4. Maintain a Comfortable Sleep Environment: Keep your bedroom cool and comfortable for optimal sleep. Minimize noise disruptions by using earplugs or white noise machines if necessary. Ensure your bedroom is dark by using blackout curtains or a sleep mask to create an ideal sleep environment.

5. Establish a Consistent Sleep Routine: Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day to regulate your body’s internal clock. Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and electronics before bedtime, as they can interfere with your ability to fall asleep.

If you experience discomfort or pain while sleeping on your back, don’t hesitate to adjust your position or add additional support to alleviate it. And if you have chronic back pain or sleep disturbances, consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice and treatment options.

Next, let’s look at the specific tell-tale signs indicating that it’s time to switch to another sleeping posture.


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When to Choose a Different Sleeping Position

Here are some scenarios in which you might consider abandoning back sleeping for a more comfortable sleeping posture:

1. Snoring and Sleep Apnea: Lying on your side, particularly the left side, can help reduce snoring and alleviate symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea by keeping the airway open.

2. Acid Reflux and Heartburn: Sleeping on your side can help prevent stomach acid from flowing back up into the esophagus, reducing symptoms of acid reflux.

3. Pregnancy: Pregnant women are also often advised to sleep on their left side to improve blood circulation to the fetus and alleviate pressure on major blood vessels.

Alternatively, a semi-reclined position with pillows supporting the back can also be comfortable.

4. Recurring Back Pain: Sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees can help maintain spinal alignment and reduce pressure on the lower back, relieving back pain. Curling up on your side in a fetal position can also alleviate back pain for some sleepers.

5. Shoulder Discomfort: If one shoulder is in pain, try sleeping on the opposite side to relieve pressure on the affected shoulder.

6. Nasal Congestion: Sleeping on your side with your head slightly elevated can promote better drainage of nasal passages and alleviate nasal congestion.

7. Restless Leg Syndrome: For some sleepers with restless leg syndrome, sleeping on their side or stomach may help alleviate symptoms by reducing discomfort and promoting relaxation.

Most people naturally shift between different sleeping positions throughout the night based on comfort and preference. So it is totally normal if you tend to start your snooze sesh on your back and then slowly transition into other sleeping positions during the night.

But, if you find that back sleeping positions are the most comfortable for you, some people theorize that this could have something to do with your personality. Let’s talk about this next.

What does Back Sleeping Say About My Personality?

What does Back Sleeping Say About My Personality?

While there isn’t a direct correlation between sleeping positions and personality traits, some theories suggest potential associations between them. For instance, back in the 1970s, the researcher Dunkell suggested that back sleepers typically display traits of self-confidence and dominance. One possible explanation for this is that sleeping in a vulnerable position, such as on the back, requires a certain level of confidence in one’s safety and surroundings.

It’s crucial to remember that while sleeping positions may offer insights into sleep habits and comfort preferences, they are unlikely to provide an accurate understanding of someone’s personality. So, approach such interpretations with caution and consider them as just one of many factors that could be contributing to an individual’s personality profile.


Back sleeping, also known as the supine position, offers numerous benefits, especially for spinal alignment and overall comfort. But, this sleeping posture may not be suitable for everyone, particularly those with snoring or sleep apnea. By incorporating proper support aids like bolster pillows and maintaining a comfortable sleep environment, you can improve your sleep quality in this position. Always listen to your body and consult with healthcare professionals if you experience persistent discomfort or sleep issues when lying on your back.