Is It Bad to Sleep on Your Stomach?

January 19, 2024 | Casper Editorial Team

If there were ever a schoolyard debate about quality sleep, it might have revolved around which sleeping position is superior—and among them, the three main sleep position contenders might include back, side, and stomach.

Of those three sleep position options, sleeping on your stomach isn’t often considered the best sleeping position option, preferred by only 17 percent of sleepers.1 But unpopular doesn’t necessarily mean bad, right? 

Well, in the case of stomach sleeping, there’s a chance it could. Sleeping on your belly can contribute to a number of health issues, including back problems, neck pain, and even skin issues. Fortunately, once you understand all the factors at play, you can learn to either circumvent the stomach sleeping position or find the proper support to slumber in harmony with your prone position.

Why Is It Bad to Sleep on Your Stomach?

Quite simply, sleeping on your stomach causes strain to a key pillar of your body—your spine. It can also cause issues with your neck, lead to skin conditions, and may affect you and your baby’s health if you’re pregnant. 

Before diving deeper into the potential downsides to sleeping on your stomach, we should note that snoozing on your stomach isn’t objectively wrong

Everyone has their own quality sleep preferences when it comes to how they like to drift off. But to answer the question, “Is sleeping on your stomach bad?” it can help to understand how this sleeping position can impact a sleeper’s body.

Let’s explore a few reasons why stomach sleepers might require extra support.

Spinal Strain

At night, drifting off to sleep can have us feeling weightless, but how our weight is distributed in sleep can actually impact our spine.

Most of your weight is located towards the center of your body. When you sleep on your back, the weight is evenly distributed thanks to the support of your back and spine. But when you sleep on your stomach, the skeletal structure of your front body isn’t able to distribute that weight as well. 

So when you sleep on your stomach, the natural softness of the torso’s front causes the weight to be pulled downwards deeper into the mattress. This can cause your back to arch, putting your spine out of its alignment and possibly risking some health issues.

A misaligned spine can open the door for other chronic pain and problems, such as:2

  • Muscle pains and stress on other parts of the body, from your joints to your shoulders
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Stiffness, especially in the lower back

Even if you still prefer to sleep on your stomach, knowing how to give your spine proper support can help you wake up feeling fresh and avoid chronic pain and longer-lasting problems. 

Neck Nuisances

If you’re a stomach sleeper, chances are you often rest your head sideways on the pillow to get air. 

Sleeping with your neck turned like this, however, can exacerbate spinal misalignment. This position can then cause other side effects, including:

  • Pain in your arms and shoulders due to suppressed blood flow2
  • Muscle tension in the neck, which can cause tension headaches
  • Increased risk of a herniated disk, which can irritate the nerves and even require medical attention4

Skin Issues

Gravity is at play again when it comes to your health and stomach sleeping. 

As we mentioned earlier, stomach sleepers usually rest with their head facing one way or the other on the body pillow. This draws the weight of your skin naturally downward. In the same way that frown lines are formed over time due to repeated facial movements, sleeping on your side can pull the skin of your face and lead to wrinkles and fine lines.2

Additionally, with your face pressed into a pillow, you risk trapping natural oil and sweat into your pores from the fabric, causing blemishes. 

Pregnancy and Stomach Sleeping

During the third trimester, when the baby bump is at its largest, stomach sleeping is basically impossible. But though the baby bump isn’t nearly as prominent during the first trimester, many health professionals still don’t recommend stomach sleeping. There are several reasons for this: 

  • Superfluous spinal strain – Thanks to your new little bundle of joy, your spine has a little more to support. However, when sleeping on your stomach, your baby’s added weight and pressure can put your spine in even further misalignment.2
  • Sleep discomfort – Quite frankly, sleeping on your stomach in the later stages of pregnancy can feel like trying to sleep on a soccer ball—one that can kick back. It’s not exactly the best sleeping position to be in while trying to relax and drift off. Since healthy sleep is vital to a pregnancy (both for mom’s health and the baby’s), sleeping on your stomach while pregnant may lead to poor sleep and thus subsequent potential health risks.

Best Pillows and Mattresses for Stomach Sleepers

Wondering what you can do to solve your stomach sleeping habit? The solution is all about finding proper support—bedding support, that is. With the right pillow and best mattress, you’ll be sleeping soundly and protecting your health while you catch those z’s. 


When it comes to where stomach sleepers rest their heads, the best place might be on top of no pillow at all—or at least, one with a low loft pillow height. When your head is level with the mattress, you’re more likely to experience proper spinal alignment.2 The Original Casper Pillow—built for support while still being comfy—can be an excellent fit in this regard.

As an alternative (or a bonus), you can slip a pillow under your pelvis, which essentially does the same thing, while also helping to alleviate lower back pain and pressure.

Pregnant stomach sleepers might consider a pregnancy pillow or body pillow for support. These can vary widely in size and shape, but can be used to make you feel like you’re sleeping on your stomach without actually doing so. Place the pillow on your cozy bed, lie sideways with your tummy atop it, and voilà.


Generally speaking, stomach sleepers want to lean toward the firmer side of the mattress spectrum, from around 5–8 on the mattress firmness scale.8 A few mattress types make the grade:

  • Innerspring – As the name implies, these mattresses are laden with coiled springs—which sounds uncomfortable, but cushioning layers provide all the comfort you need. The springs’ job is to provide even support.
  • Latex – Natural or synthetic, springy or dense, latex mattresses prioritize comfort and conformity. Their weight distribution can’t be beaten, meaning even stomach sleepers won’t find themselves sinking as much as usual.
  • Hybrid – The support of an innerspring combined with the comfort and conformity of a latex—what’s not to love? The Casper Wave Hybrid Mattress is an excellent example, with the added benefit of cooling technology.

If you can’t break the stomach sleeping habit, find yourself firm support to keep you aligned with the Casper Wave Hybrid.

Tips for Stomach Sleepers

Sometimes, there’s nothing better than bellyflopping into sleep. But before you sink into dreams, there are a few ways you can support your body while you snooze. 

  • Try morning stretches – For those who sleep on their belly, stretching has a twofold purpose: loosening muscles that normally cramp because of stomach sleeping, and promoting proper spinal alignment.3
  • Align your limbs – Though your spine will curve if you sleep on your back, you can counteract this misalignment a little bit by keeping your legs even and flat against the mattress.

How to Break the Stomach Sleeping Habit

If the effects of stomach sleeping have you wanting to switch to your side or back, there are a few ways to go about it. Try these tactics to end your stomach-sleeping habit:

  • Practice – Sleep on your back. Sleep on your side. Whenever you wake up on your stomach, turn back over. Willpower is key, though having a partner willing to prod you back onto your side or back can help, too.
  • Pillow protection – Some pillows are tailor-made to help you stay on your side or back, such as full body and cervical pillows. You can also get creative and place pillows all around you to keep yourself from being able to turn over as easily mid-sleep. 
  • The tennis ball method – It sounds weird, and it kind of is, but stuffing your shirt with tennis balls or something similar (in a pocket or bag, so they don’t tumble out) can be an even more effective barrier to mid-sleep turning than pillows. 

Find Support for a Good Night’s Sleep with Casper

Whether you’re a committed supporter of stomach sleeping or believe beds were built for backs, we believe there’s a pillow and mattress out there for everyone. Speak with one of our sleep specialists or take our mattress quiz today to help determine how you can start snoozing more soundly, no matter your preferred sleeping position.

No matter how you sleep, find the ultimate comfort with Casper.


  1. Healthline. What Does Your Sleeping Position Say About Your Personality and Health?
  2. Mount Sinai. Tension Headache. 
  3. Jackson Health System. Understanding Each Trimester of Your Pregnancy.
  4. Sleep Foundation. Sleeping On Your Stomach – Is it Bad for You?
  5. Spa Industry Association. The Importance Of A Good Pillow For Proper Sleep And Well Being.
  6. FirstCry Parenting. Pregnancy Pillow – Benefits, Types, and How to Use.
  7. Sleep Foundation. Best Mattress for Stomach Sleepers.
  8. Core Chiropractic. 4 Tips to Help Avoid Stomach Sleeping.
  9. Well+Good. How To Train Yourself To *Not* Sleep on Your Stomach (Because Docs Advise Against It).
  10. Healthline. Is It Bad to Sleep on Your Stomach?
  11. Sleep Advisor. 3 Reasons Why Sleeping On Your Stomach Is Bad for You.
  12. Sleep Advisor. The 10 Best Mattress for Stomach Sleepers in 2022.