Sleep, 9 Positions That Affect Health (And What They Mean)

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The position you assume during sleep is most likely linked to problems such as back pain, nocturnal awakenings and apneas. It may even reveal important aspects of the personality.

Here are 9 sleep positions identified by WebMd magazine:

In this article

  • Belly down
  • Belly up
  • On one side
  • If you snore
  • If you have back pain
  • If you are pregnant
  • The mattress

1) On your stomach

Do you always fall asleep on your stomach and have trouble falling asleep? This position promotes restlessness. In addition, sleeping on your stomach can also strain your neck and lower back.


If that's the way you like to sleep, it's best to use a very soft pillow (or not use one at all) to keep your neck comfortable.

2) Face down with your arms around the pillow

According to statistics about 7% of the population sleeps in this way, i.e. on their stomach with their arms around a pillow and their head turned to the side.

What does it mean

If this is your favorite position, chances are you're outgoing and outgoing, but you're probably not very open to criticism.

3) Belly up

This position can cause lower back pain in some people. And if you already have it, it can make things worse. Also, it can make you snore or have sleep apnea.


If you have any of these problems and are unable to feel comfortable in any other way, talk to your doctor.

4) Face up: the position of the soldier

According to recent research, 8% of the population sleeps in this way, that is with the arms down and very close to the body.

What does it mean

If you sleep like this, you are likely to be more inclined to shut up and keep everything to yourself. And you are also very demanding with yourself and with others.

5) Face up with your arms up

Only 5% of the world's population sleeps this way, i.e. on their backs with their arms up close to their heads.

What does it mean

According to some studies, if you fall asleep like this you may be a good listener and don't like being the center of attention.

READ ALSO: How many hours do you need to sleep from 0 to 100 years old?

6) On the side: fetal position

There are many ways to sleep on your side, but the most comfortable is with your knees bent slightly towards your chest in a fetal position.

More than 40% of people fall asleep this way. This is the most common position for women: they are twice as likely to sleep this way than men.

What does it mean

If you sleep like this, you are more likely to be friendly and sensitive, but you also have a "protective shell" around you.

7) On your side with your arms down

About 15% of people sleep on their side with their arms down.

What does it mean

They are sociable, easy-going and confident people.

8) On your side with your arms forward

About 13% of people sleep on the side with their arms stretched out in front of the body.

What does it mean

If you sleep like this, some studies suggest you may be open-minded, but be suspicious and stubborn at the same time.

9) On the side with the partner

If you sleep next to your partner you may wake up more often, but if you pamper yourself ... know that they are only good for you. They cause the body to release a chemical called "oxytocin" which helps reduce stress, bond you more with your partner, and fall asleep faster.

Read also: Nutrition and sleep: how to sleep well

If you snore

For less snoring at night, sleeping on the side is best. See your doctor if snoring also causes you to breathe heavily, if you feel tired the next day, or if your partner wakes you up.

If you snore, you may also have sleep apnea, which can lead to stroke, high blood pressure and heart disease in the long run.

Read also: sleep apnea in children

If you have back pain

Sleeping on your side is also best if you have back pain. To put more pressure on your hips and back, you can put a pillow between your legs. Or it can be placed under the knees to maintain the natural curve of the back.

If you are pregnant

It is usually more comfortable and healthier for your child if you sleep on your side. And the left side might be the best, because it would help deliver nutrients to the baby. If you have back pain, place a pillow under your belly to support the weight. Bending the knees and placing a pillow between the legs can also help.

Read also: how to sleep in pregnancy, the safest positions

And the mattress?

It should be firm enough to support your body position during sleep, but also soft enough to conform to your body shape. Some stores allow you to test a mattress for several weeks and change it if it doesn't fit.


  • WebMD Harvard Health Publications: "What type of mattress is best for people with low back pain?"
  • Mayo Clinic: "Sleep apnea," "Pregnancy week by week: How should I position myself for sleep during pregnancy?"
  • National Sleep Foundation: "How Cuddling Affects Your Sleep."
  • The Better Sleep Council: "Sleep Positions."

  • sleep
  • sleeping positions
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