How to Train Yourself to Sleep on Your Back

How to Train Yourself to Sleep on Your Back

Written by Dreamcloud Editorial Team

Last Updated on Jul 25, 2022

In this article:

    Old habits die hard –Or so people thought. But, because people spend one-third of their life sleeping or attempting to do so, a comfortable and supportive sleeping position becomes the top priority. And no doubt, each person has their preferences in this regard.

    Regardless, sleeping positions can have a significant impact on sleep and health. And unfortunately, the most comfortable sleeping position might cause specific health problems and body aches. 

    For example, if a person is sleeping on their stomach, switching to the supine position (i.e., sleeping on back) might be in their favor as it can benefit in relieving sinus buildup, avoiding wrinkles, and aches, reducing acid reflux, and many others.

    Although changing nocturnal habits may seem daunting, it is possible to do so with little training. Train yourself on how to sleep on your back using simple methods.

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    Place a Pillow Underneath Your Knees

    People in the habit of sleeping in positions other than supine may find it uncomfortable to learn to sleep on back. Therefore, placing a pillow or two underneath the knees may offer an adequate amount of comfort and support. 

    1. First, lay flat on the back.
    2. Place a pillow under the head.
    3. Next, place one or two pillows beneath the knees to neutralize the spine.

    Apart from comfort, it helps align the pelvis and spine while maintaining the normal curvature of the body. Moreover, bent knees lift the pressure from the back and hips; therefore, it is considered the best low back pain sleeping position.

    Place a Pillow Under Your Lower Back

    While sleeping, getting support in all the right areas for comfort is important. However, when sleeping on the back, it is plausible to have a little gap between the mattress and the lower back, which can be uncomfortable. So, a rolled-up towel is a simple solution to eliminate this discomfort.

    1. Lay flat on the back.
    2. Place a rolled-up towel (or a blanket/small pillow) under the lower back to fill the gap.
    3. Extend the legs and relax into the mattress.

    Placing a rolled-up towel, blanket, or a small pillow underneath the lower back supports the spine's natural curvature and reduces pressure off the back. In addition, it provides good lumbar support.

    Surround Yourself With Pillows

    It is worth noting that a person doesn't usually stay in the same sleeping position throughout the night. And an active sleeper may roll around from the side, stomach, and back throughout the REM sleep. So, how to sleep on your back properly? 

    Beside the pillow under the head, place two thick pillows on either side (beside the body's midsection) to keep it from rolling around. And if still uncomfortable, then a pillow underneath the knees or lower back wouldn't hurt anyone. Although it proffers comfort, having too many pillows may not be a viable option for those who share the bed, as it can take up a significant amount of bed space.

    Choose a Supportive Mattress

    If you want to learn how to sleep on your back, remember that proper spine alignment is one of the most important things. And attempting to sleep on a mattress that misaligns the body posture may cause a person to wake up with aches and pains in the morning.

    A soft mattress may cause the back to sink, misaligning the spine, and a hard or excessively firm mattress might build pressure points resulting in aches and pains. Therefore, choosing a medium firm mattress to support the spine and soft enough to provide the necessary comfort must be the priority. 

    Stretch Before Bed

    Suppose a person is struggling to fall asleep. In that case, stretching some muscles might help since stretching not only makes a person flexible but also relieves tension and discomfort experienced throughout the day. 

    Besides, according to a study, exercise training and stretching could improve insomnia symptoms. And the results suggested that stretching in the evening improves sleep quality. In addition, stretching reduces body pain, improves circulation and mood, and offers other benefits.

    The Starfish Position

    Sleeping on the back does not entail for the arms to be on the sides and legs straight forward forever. Besides, keeping the arms and legs in one position might make the muscles stiff and sound counter-intuitive. Spreading out the body into the starfish position may help relax the muscles.

    A starfish's sleeping position is when the sleeper sleeps with their arms and legs outstretched, so their body resembles a starfish. Although it typically sleeps on the back, the starfish sleeping position relieves back pain, relaxes muscles, and provides proper spine alignment.

    Avoid Eating Right Before Bedtime

    Eating before bedtime might not be the best idea, for it is accompanied by many health risks such as slow metabolism, disturbance in sleep, sleep quality impairment, obesity, and disturbing the natural circadian cycle of the body.

    And according to a study, nighttime eating, particularly before bedtime, negatively impacts health and body composition. It also studies the risks of cardiometabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes.

    Benefits of Sleeping on Your Back

    Although not everyone will find the supine position comfortable, people may experience the following benefits from sleeping on their back.

    Great for Spine Health

    Sleeping on the back distributes the weight across the widest body parts, which helps reduce pressure points and improve spine alignment. It also supports the body's natural curvature, keeping the spine healthy.

    Reduces Acid Reflux

    There's a chance that every person has experienced a false and burning sensation in their neck or chest. It happens because of the backflow of stomach acids, and sleeping on the back with at least 6-8 inches (15-20 centimeters) head elevation can reduce these acid refluxes.

    Avoids Wrinkles and Fine Lines

    When sleeping on the side or stomach, wrinkles often appear in parallel along the temples, around the eyes, the lateral cheek area, and the mouth, and sometimes along the forearms and hands. Sleeping on the back provides a beauty benefit, such as preventing these wrinkles and fine lines, also referred to as "sleep lines," helping keep the skin smooth.

    Less Puffy Eyes

    When laying down on a particular area or face, fluids can pool around in those areas, causing an impression of "swollen." And sleeping on the back reduces any chances of swollen facial features or puffiness around the eyes.

    Relieves Sinus Buildup

    Sleeping on the back with the upper body propped up by two or more pillows or a wedge pillow keeps the airways clear and helps gravity naturally drain the sinuses. This also reduces the chance of excessive blood flow that can develop sinus congestion.

    When Not to Sleep on Your Back

    Although sleeping on the back ascertains many health and beauty benefits; however, is it good to sleep on your back no matter what? Indeed, in some cases, supine positions may risk and increase complications for people with certain health conditions.

    Pregnancy

    It is advised against sleeping on the back during pregnancies, especially during third trimesters. Since sleeping on the back increases the chances of stillbirth and low birth weight. This happens due to the baby's inhibitions of oxygen and blood flow. Thus, sleeping on the side is generally recommended instead.

    Obstructive Sleep Apnea

    Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder caused by the blockage of the upper airways while sleeping. A study reports that a supine sleeping position is associated with more severe sleep apnea episodes where a person experiences trouble breathing. Therefore, it is highly recommended to switch positions from the back to the side in case of experiencing obstructive sleep apnea.

    Chronic Snoring

    Although snoring is not necessarily an underlying symptom of any disease or health condition, it is still annoying and frustrating (especially if the snorer is your partner). However, there are ways to decrease snoring by elevating the head with an extra pillow. And if it causes discomfort in the neck or back, just roll to the side; as research suggests, sleeping on the side decreases snoring compared to the back.

    Heartburn

    It is called heartburn when a person lays down and feels a burning sensation in their chest just behind the breastbone. And it is most likely to occur when sleeping on the back. In addition, heartburn is also associated with sugary items, fatty fast foods, and spicy foods.

    What Is the Best Sleeping Position

    It is worth remembering that the change won't happen overnight, and if the above tips and methods do not work, then it is fine to quit. Since comfort and support are the top priority when sleeping, they can also be achieved from other sleeping positions.


    A study reported that most people prefer sleeping on their side. Furthermore, side sleeping provides various benefits such as reducing snoring, reducing acid reflux and heartburn, and as insane as it sounds, sleeping on the side helps remove waste from the brain better than other sleeping positions.

    Final Thoughts

    Sleeping position and sleep quality are closely associated with each other. And the supine sleeping position is back and neck friendly since it keeps the pelvis and spine neutrally aligned, preventing back or body ache.

    And although it provides certain health and beauty benefits, some cases where sleeping on the back may not be reasonable. And a person can always train to sleep on the back by incorporating the methods mentioned above, but if it doesn't work for them, then there are other sleeping positions with equal benefits and more.

    This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.
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