The best sleeping position for a good night sleep

A question that comes up a lot in practice is “what is the best position to sleep in?” Because a lot of patients come in complaining of pain when they wake up.

Your sleeping position directly affects your health, for instance, it can affect your breathing, the alignment of your spine and blood flow.

There are ways to get a better night sleep by using the right pillow with different sleeping positions, which can therefore improve health and wellbeing both mentally and physically. If you can keep your spine aligned in the neutral position as much as possible throughout the night, the more you are likely to avoid pain.

This blog will talk about the different sleeping positions and the best pillow thickness for each.

A Women sleeping in the bed

Sleeping on your back

Sleeping on your back has the most benefits because your head, neck and back are held by gravity into a neutral position and even alignment.

The ideal pillow set up if you sleep on your back would be to use a pillow that is not too thick or too thin, so that it supports the head and neck into a neutral position.

Using a pillow behind the knees can also help to reduce pressure on the spine, by supporting the curve in your back.

However, sleeping on the back isn’t the best position for everyone.

People who snore or who have sleep apnea (also spelt sleep apnoea) may find that sleeping on the back exacerbates the problem.

Another condition that may be worsened by back sleeping is if you have GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease. The stomach acid is not kept in the stomach via gravity, it can leak out and damage the oesophagus.

So for people with these conditions, it is recommended to try and adopt a different sleeping position.

A women sleeping with eye mask

Sleeping on your side

Sleeping on the side is the most common position adopted by humans and animals generally. It can be the best position for those with GERD and for reducing snoring and sleep apnoea symptoms.

Sleeping on the right side, in particular, allows for more space in the chest cavity and can put less pressure on the heart, so can help those with a heart condition.

Sleeping on the side is also preferable during pregnancy, in particular, the left side because it allows for optimal blood flow by reducing pressure on the large vein that runs next to the spine (called the inferior vena cava) and carries blood to the heart and baby.

Generally, people who sleep on their side will need a higher pillow to support their head and neck and stop it from collapsing into or compressing the shoulder girdle, which can lead to strains in the neck or back and cause headaches.

Putting a pillow between the knees can also help to keep the spine in a neutral position by preventing rotation and reducing the stretch of the pelvic muscles.

Sleeping in front of laptop

Sleeping on your front

Sleeping on the stomach is the least recommended position because it is difficult to maintain a neutral position. So it can cause more strain in the neck and shoulder girdle, leading to more risk of discomfort and pain in these areas.

It has been shown in studies, however, to be a good position for reducing snoring or sleep apnea.

If you are a front sleeper, it is recommended to train to sleep in another position. However, if you find it difficult to do this or you find that you start the night in another position, but still wake up on your front, then placing a pillow under your abdomen may help to reduce neck or back pain. Also, using no pillow under your head or a thin pillow will reduce the risk of your spine getting bent at an angle.


Your sleep position matters, if you have trouble sleeping your health can suffer and it can have a detrimental impact on all areas of your life.

If you don’t feel rested when you wake up, try practicing good sleep habits. You can access our free booklet with sleep hygiene tips at; incorporating these tips can really help to boost your sleep and overall health.

Would you like more information or book an appointment with one of our practitioners, please contact us on