Can Stomach Sleeping Cause Neck Pain or Headaches?

Can Stomach Sleeping Cause Neck Pain or Headaches?

Hey, Dr. Ryan Hetland here. Welcome to today’s 3-minute seminar. I wanted to talk to you about sleeping on
your stomach and why that’s such a bad thing for your neck and your spine. You probably heard of that or maybe you haven’t,
but there are people who fall asleep and they are in one position the whole night–on their
back, on their side or, worse, on their stomach. The stomach is by far the worst position to
be sleeping in and I’ll show you why because you got to think about the spine, your goal
is to keep the spine in a neutral position, whether it’s neutral on this front to back
position or neutral on this position where you’re helping this curvature in the spine
to be arched like this. There should be a natural curvature like that
that you fill this space in and this is what a good pillow does. It fills in this space between your head and
the shoulder, how much space is there should the pillow should support, so your head’s
not going down or not getting pushed up. So the pillow does that and on the back, you
might not need as much pillow support, but more right in where the neck is. I’m going to show you what happens when you
lay on your stomach. Just think about what you do with your face. I guess I know one person that actually sleeps with
their face straight in the pillow–not recommended. Most people–I’ll show you here–when they
lay on their stomach, your head is turned all the way cranked over like this because
your head is on the other side so you can breathe while you sleep. Sleeping like that, with your head cranked
is just straining on the neck. And so, oftentimes, when someone has neck
problems and they’re wondering why they have chronic neck problems, a question would be
how do you sleep? What position do you sleep in? If you sleep on the stomach, it’s probably
contributing, if not, causing your neck problems or headache problems or jaw problems because
think about what happens to the jaw when you sleep on your stomach and your jaw is pushed
over, or students who are bored and, you know, sitting like this on their desk, you know
the jaw is coming over. So that’s pretty much the key reason you would
not want to sleep on the stomach is what happens to your neck when you’re turning, cranking
for hours and hours and hours. The best way to sleep is on your back in a
neutral position with a good support of pillow on the bed or on your side. But the key way to sleep on your side is not
directly on the shoulder. It’s to be slightly angled. I’ll show you that here. So I would go on your back and instead of
going straight onto the side like this where your shoulder is all bunched up, you’re going
to be off to the kind of at an angle, 45 degree angle on the flat part of your shoulder so
that way it’s more comfortable and your spine now is more in that neutral position like
I was talking to you about. The spine is more in that neutral position,
you’re on the flat part of your shoulder, not crunching up the shoulder, because that
can be a problem as well for you. So, hopefully, that’s helpful. If you have questions about sleep and positions
and what’s best, send me a message or comment below. Share this with your friends. I hope that was helpful. Have a great day.

4 comments on “Can Stomach Sleeping Cause Neck Pain or Headaches?

  1. dewmomma Post author

    How do you train yourself to sleep on your back? I try to start out that way, but I always roll over to my side/stomach. My body just seems to want to sleep that way

  2. aka amazing Post author

    thank you so much . it turns out this was really the reason for my bad headaches i noticed thet whenever i'm on my stomach my hedache gets stronger. and i just tried laying on my back and the headache is almost gone! thanks alot for this video

  3. Rustic_ MetalArt Post author

    I've been a stomach sleeper all my life, I now suffer from really bad neck pain that I even confused to blood pressure issues. 30 years of stomach sleeping, it's hard to get used to

  4. Your Wellness Nerd Post author

    Hello to everyone. I'm a Physiotherapist whose passionate about trying to understand the root cause of many musculoskeletal aches and pains. I've taken the time to put together an article on what I've come to understand about stomach sleeping and why I don't think we should keep using it to excuse our neck pain. If you're interested here's the link:


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