Home / Blog May 27, 2024

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The Freefall Sleeping Position: Soaring Through Slumberland

Curious about why some sleepers find comfort in sleeping on their stomachs, reminiscent of the posture of a skydiver in freefall? Read on to find out how to make the most of this position!

Freefall Sleeping Position


The freefall position helps reduce snoring and other sleep apnea symptoms.

However, it can lead to drawbacks like neck stiffness and back pain.

Generally, sleep specialists do not recommend any variation of stomach sleeping. 

Did you know?
The term “freefall position” is inspired by the posture of skydivers as they plummet through the air, arms outstretched and facing downward.

Ever wondered why some people prefer sleeping on their stomachs, with their arms stretched wide? This is known as the “freefall position”. From alleviating snoring to assisting with sleep paralysis, the benefits of this rare sleep position are many – and we cover them all in this blog.

Let’s dive in!

What is the Freefall Position?

The freefall position is a sleeping posture where you lie on your stomach with your arms extended forward and your head turned to one side. This position is sometimes also referred to as the “freefaller position”, “skydiver pose”, “prone position” or simply “stomach sleeping.” 

There can be variations of this sleep posture based on your personal comfort preferences, including:

1. Arms Under Pillow: Instead of extending the arms above the head, some sleepers may find it more comfortable to tuck their arms under the pillow or alongside their body while sleeping on the stomach. This can help reduce strain on the upper back and shoulders.

2. Head Turned Straight: While the traditional freefall position involves turning the face to one side, some sleepers may prefer to keep their head facing straight down or slightly to the side without fully turning it. This helps maintain a more neutral neck position and reduce strain on the cervical spine.

3. Legs Extended or Bent: In the freefall position, sleepers may choose to keep their legs fully extended or slightly bent at the knees for added comfort. Experimenting with leg positioning can help relieve pressure on the lower back and hips and improve overall sleep quality.

All these variations of the freefaller position carry several advantages, which we discuss in the following section.

Benefits of the Freefall Position

Benefits of the Freefall Position

Here are the advantages of sleeping like a skydiver:

Less Airway Obstruction

Sleeping in the freefall position may help alleviate snoring and reduce the severity of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in some people. By lying face down, the tongue and soft palate are less likely to collapse backward, which can obstruct the airway and cause snoring or pauses in breathing during sleep.

Alleviates Sleep Paralysis Episodes

Some sleepers report a reduction in episodes of sleep paralysis when in the freefall position. Sleep paralysis occurs when you’re temporarily aware of the fact that you’re laying still when asleep, which usually causes fear in a lot of people.

Promotes Comfort During Early Pregnancy

Pregnant women may find relief from back pain by sleeping in the freefall position, particularly in the earlier stages of pregnancy. Additionally, this position may help alleviate symptoms like shortness of breath, which is a common complaint among pregnant women, by keeping the head elevated and the airway open.

While the freefall position offers these potential benefits, it may not be suitable for everyone, particularly those with certain medical conditions. So next, let’s look at the downsides of sleeping in this skydiver pose!

Downsides of the Freefall Position

Here’s why you should consider steering clear of the freefall position:

Increased Risk of Neck and Back Pain

Sleeping in the freefall position can strain the neck and spine, leading to discomfort and potential long-term issues. The unnatural curvature of the spine in this position, combined with the need to turn the head to one side for breathing, can contribute to neck stiffness, muscle tension, and spinal misalignment

Aggravates Some Respiratory Conditions

While some sleepers may find relief from respiratory conditions in the freefall position, it can exacerbate symptoms for others. The pressure applied to the chest and abdomen in this position may restrict breathing, particularly for individuals with asthma, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), or other respiratory disorders. Additionally, the face-down position may worsen nasal congestion and contribute to difficulty breathing through the nose.

Facial Wrinkles and Skin Irritation

Sleeping with the face pressed against a pillow in the freefall position can lead to the development of facial wrinkles and skin irritation over time. The constant pressure on the delicate skin of the face can cause creases and lines to form, especially around the eyes, cheeks, and mouth. Also, friction between the pillowcase and the skin can contribute to dryness, redness, and irritation, exacerbating existing dermatological issues.

Potential Complications During Pregnancy

Pregnant women may encounter challenges sleeping in the freefall position, particularly as their pregnancy progresses. Lying on the stomach can place undue pressure on the abdomen and uterus, potentially causing discomfort and restricting blood flow to the fetus.

So, in light of both the benefits and downsides of the freefaller position, could this be the sleeping position of your dreams? Let’s find out in the next section!

Who is the Freefall Position Best For?

Below, are a few scenarios where the skydiver sleeping pose could be beneficial:

Certain Physical Therapy Patients

For sleepers recovering from certain types of injuries or surgeries, physical therapists might recommend the freefall position as part of their rehabilitation program. Lying face down can help stretch and strengthen the muscles of the back and improve range of motion. Under the guidance of a physical therapist, patients can gradually incorporate the skydiver pose into their therapeutic exercises to aid in recovery.

Occupational Therapy for Sensory Integration

In occupational therapy sessions aimed at sensory integration, the freefall position could be used as a sensory input technique for people with sensory processing disorders or autism spectrum disorders. The deep pressure and proprioceptive input provided by lying face down on a therapy mat or specialized equipment may help regulate sensory processing and promote relaxation.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety

Psychologists might also incorporate the freefall position as a relaxation technique for sleepers with anxiety. Teaching clients to adopt the skydiver pose during guided relaxation exercises or progressive muscle relaxation sessions can help reduce physiological arousal, promote diaphragmatic breathing, and induce a sense of calm. This unconventional use of the freefall position can empower people to manage symptoms of anxiety and stress in various contexts, such as before bedtime or during moments of heightened tension.

Meditation and Mindfulness Practices

The freefall position could offer a unique posture for cultivating present-moment awareness and bodily sensations. While traditionally, meditation is practiced in a seated or reclined position, exploring the freefall position during mindfulness exercises can foster a deeper connection with the breath and bodily sensations. By lying face down and focusing on the sensation of the abdomen rising and falling with each breath, practitioners can cultivate a grounded, embodied presence conducive to mindfulness meditation.

So, does it mean that these are the only groups of people who should try the freefaller position? Not really. You can give this position a chance, but… before you do, there are several factors you need to consider. Let’s talk about this next!

Should I Try the Freefall Position?

Should I Try the Freefall Position?

1. Comfort: If you naturally gravitate toward sleeping on your stomach and find it comfortable, then trying the freefaller position might be worth exploring. However, if you typically experience discomfort or pain when lying on your stomach, it may not be the best choice for you.e some considerations to help you decide:

2. Evaluate Existing Medical Conditions: If you have certain medical conditions such as back pain, neck pain, or respiratory issues, consider how the freefall position might affect these conditions. For instance, if you have chronic back pain, lying on your stomach may exacerbate discomfort. Similarly, if you have respiratory conditions like asthma or sleep apnea, sleeping in the freefaller position could worsen your symptoms.

3. Experiment Mindfully: If you’re curious about trying the skydiver sleeping position, start by experimenting mindfully. Begin by spending a short period in this position during your usual bedtime routine and pay attention to how your body responds. Notice any discomfort or pressure points and adjust your position or support (such as using a body pillow under your hips) as needed.

Remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to sleep positions, and what works for one person may not work for another. If the freefall position doesn’t feel comfortable or doesn’t improve your sleep quality, consider exploring alternative sleep positions, such as sleeping on your back or side.

In the next section, we share tips on how to sleep well in this pose if you naturally gravitate towards stomach sleeping!

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How to Sleep Well in the Freefall Position

Here are some tips to help you make the skydiver sleeping pose as comfortable as possible:

Pillow Placement

Place a small pillow under your abdomen to provide additional support and prevent excessive arching of the lower back while sleeping in the freefaller position. Our Cuddling, for example, is a satisfyingly-squashy bolster pillow that is ergonomically designed to support your joints. You can place it under your hips to keep your back relaxed.

Breathing Techniques

Practice diaphragmatic breathing techniques while in the freefall position. Since the face is down, focus on breathing deeply into your abdomen rather than your chest. This can promote relaxation and help alleviate any feelings of breathlessness or discomfort associated with sleeping face down.

Facial Support

If you find it uncomfortable to turn your head to one side while sleeping in the freefall position, consider using a specialized face pillow or a rolled-up towel to support your forehead. This can help keep your neck in a more comfortable position and prevent strain.

Gradual Adaptation

If you’re new to sleeping in the freefaller position, gradually introduce it into your bedtime routine. Start by spending short periods in this position before gradually increasing the duration as your body becomes accustomed to it. This can help minimize any discomfort or stiffness associated with sleeping in a new position.

Additionally, it helps to maintain good sleep hygiene by considering the following tips:

1. Choose Supportive Bedding: Opt for a supportive mattress and sensory pillows that help maintain proper spinal alignment. While lying face down in the freefall position, ensure your neck is not strained by using a pillow that isn’t too high or too firm.

2. Experiment with Sleep Aids: Consider using a weighted blanket while sleeping in the skydiver position. The gentle pressure from a weighted blanket like our chunky-knit Cotton Napper can provide a sense of security and calmness, promoting relaxation and deeper sleep. Make sure the weight of the blanket is appropriate for your body size and comfort level.

3. Mindful Breathing Exercises: Practice deep breathing exercises before bed to relax your body and mind. Focus on inhaling deeply through your nose and exhaling slowly through your mouth. This can help alleviate any tension in your body and prepare you for sleep in the freefall position.

4. Stretch Before Bed: Incorporate gentle stretching exercises into your bedtime routine to release any tension in your muscles. Pay particular attention to the muscles in your neck, shoulders, and lower back, as these areas may experience increased strain when sleeping in the freefall position.

5. Use Aromatherapy: Try using calming essential oils such as lavender or chamomile to create a relaxing sleep environment. You can diffuse the oils in your bedroom or apply them to your pulse points before bedtime to promote relaxation and improve sleep quality in the freefall position.

6. Maintain a Cool Environment: Keep your bedroom cool and well-ventilated to promote comfortable sleep in the freefall position. Consider using breathable bedding materials and adjusting the room temperature to ensure optimal sleep conditions.

7. Limit Screen Time: Minimize exposure to electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers before bedtime. The blue light emitted by these devices can interfere with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle and make it harder to fall asleep.

8. Establish a Bedtime Routine: Create a consistent bedtime routine that signals to your body that it's time to wind down and prepare for sleep. This could include activities such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, or practicing relaxation techniques to promote restful sleep in the freefall position.

By incorporating these tips into your bedtime routine, you can optimize your sleep experience in the freefall position and enjoy a restful night’s sleep.

In the next section, we look at red flags indicating that the freefaller position is just not good for you!

When To Choose A Different Sleeping Position

Here are some scenarios where selecting a different sleeping position other than the freefaller may be beneficial:

Neck or Back Pain

If you experience neck or back pain, particularly in the lower back, certain sleeping positions like the freefall position may exacerbate discomfort. In such cases, transitioning to a side or back sleeping position with proper pillow support can help alleviate strain on the spine and promote better alignment.


As pregnancy progresses, sleeping on the stomach becomes increasingly uncomfortable and impractical. Pregnant women are often advised to avoid the freefall position and instead opt for side sleeping, preferably on the left side, to promote optimal blood circulation to the uterus and fetus.

Respiratory Issues

People with respiratory conditions such as sleep apnea, asthma, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may find it challenging to breathe comfortably in the freefall position. Sleeping on the back or side can help prevent airway obstruction and improve breathing efficiency, especially when combined with proper elevation of the head and torso.

Joint Pain or Arthritis

If you suffer from joint pain or arthritis, certain sleeping positions like the freefall position may put undue pressure on sensitive joints, exacerbating pain and stiffness. Side sleeping with a pillow between the knees or back sleeping with proper cushioning can help alleviate joint discomfort and promote better sleep quality.

Sleep Disruptions

If you consistently experience sleep disruptions, such as snoring, sleep apnea, or frequent awakenings, in the freefall position, it may be beneficial to explore alternative sleeping positions.

Ultimately, personal comfort and preference play a significant role in selecting the most suitable sleeping position for yourself. If you find the skydiver sleeping pose uncomfortable or if it interferes with your ability to sleep soundly, transitioning to a different position that aligns better with your comfort preferences can lead to a more restful and rejuvenating sleep experience.

Next, let’s look at whether or not the freefaller position could be hinting at your personality traits.

What Does It Mean If You Sleep In The Freefall Position?

Among the interpretations provided through anecdotal evidence – not scientific research –, the most common personality traits for freefall sleepers are:

1. Adventurous and Bold: Many people associate the freefall position with willingness to take risks. This interpretation reflects the idea that people who prefer this sleep posture may thrive on excitement and seek out new experiences, much like the sensation of freefalling through the sky.

2. Assertive and Confident: Another commonly held theory is that sleeping in the freefall position suggests assertiveness, confidence, and a proactive approach to life. This interpretation views the posture of lying face down with arms extended as a stance of readiness and assertiveness, reflecting a personality that is self-assured and determined in facing challenges.

It’s essential to remember that personalities are complex and multifaceted, and sleep position preferences are just one small aspect of a person’s overall character.


The freefall position offers both benefits and drawbacks, depending on your personal preferences and health considerations. While it may alleviate snoring for some, it can also lead to neck and back strain and worsen certain medical conditions like COPD. Experimenting with variations of the freefall position and considering alternative sleep postures can help optimize your comfort and sleep quality.