Stomach Sleeper’s Guide: Everything You Need to Know if You Sleep on Your Belly

It isn’t all that unusual to prefer sleeping on your stomach. According to a large 2012 survey, around 16% of sleepers tend to do their snoozing on their bellies, and some people simply find this sleeping position to be the most comfortable. In this guide, find out what it means if you’re a stomach sleeper, assess the benefits of alternative sleeping positions, and discover which pillows and mattresses suit you the best if you spend most of your nights sleeping on your stomach.

Are you a stomach sleeper?

If you spend the majority of your sleeping hours with the front half of your body pressed against your mattress, you’re a stomach sleeper. Some people, however, have a tendency to fall asleep on their stomachs but rapidly switch to another position once they’re fully asleep.

Even if you often fall asleep with your belly against the mattress, consistently waking up on your back or on your side could indicate that you don’t spend most of your time sleeping on your stomach. Try asking someone who frequently sees you while you’re asleep if they usually see you sleeping with your belly down and back up.

What does sleeping on your stomach say about your psychology?

There isn’t a lot of research into the psychological data you can glean from your preferred sleeping position. The studies that have been done, however, seem to indicate a notable correlation between the position you sleep in and your outlook toward life.

According to Psychology Today, sleeping on your stomach can indicate that you feel defensive or afraid. People who sleep on their stomachs are more likely to feel like their lives are out of control, and they may be perfectionists who have trouble taking criticism.

It’s worth reiterating that the lack of concrete research into this subject may end up proving that psychological assumptions based on preferred sleep position are as unscientific as phrenology. Nonetheless, it’s certainly interesting to consider what your sleeping position might say about your outlook on life.  

Is sleeping on your stomach healthy?

There are conflicting opinions regarding the potential health benefits and risks of sleeping on your stomach. If it’s true that stomach sleeping indicates something negative about your psychology, sleeping in a different position could possibly change how you feel about life. It’s also possible that sleeping on your stomach could pose risks to your health.

According to the Mayo Clinic, sleeping on your stomach can lead to neck and back pain. Other sleep experts suggest, however, that stomach sleeping is only harmful if you’re sleeping with your head on a pillow. Dr. Stephanie Estima, for instance, insists that sleeping on your stomach is the healthiest way to sleep as long as you ditch your pillow for good. According to Dr. Estima, sleeping on your back can lead to reduced blood oxygen levels while sleeping on your side robs you of the head-turning action that is, according to her estimations, one of the best benefits of stomach sleeping.

Not enough research has been conducted into stomach sleeping to develop any firm conclusions regarding the relative safety or danger of sleeping in this position. If stomach sleeping feels right to you, try it without a pillow, and if you experience back or neck pain, try sleeping in a different position.

Should you be sleeping in a different position?

If you’ve decided that you don’t want to sleep on your stomach any longer, there are plenty of other sleeping positions to try. You might find it hard to sleep in a different position for a while, but with dedicated persistence, it’s almost always possible to change your default sleeping position. Here are a few examples of alternative sleeping positions that stomach sleepers can try:

Supine position

As the most common type of back-sleeping, supine position consists of laying on your back with your legs stretched out and your arms at your sides. Some experts suggest that sleeping on your back may be the best way to relieve back and neck pain. If there’s any merit to the psychological interpretations of sleeping positions, gradually switching to sleeping on your back may also indicate a transition into a more confident and proactive lifestyle.

Fetal position

According to one survey, 41% of people sleep in the fetal position or a variation of this position. In addition to being comfortable, sleeping in the fetal position appears to be easier on your back than sleeping on your stomach. To replicate the feeling of having your belly on your mattress, you might want to try hugging a pillow while you sleep on your side.

Pillow under your knees

For a belly sleeper, switching to sleeping on your side can be uncomfortable, but keeping a pillow between your knees might help. Additionally, some research indicates that keeping a pillow between your legs while you sleep on your side might reduce back pain.

Pillow under your knees

If you decide to try sleeping on your back, placing a pillow under your knees might help with back pain and increase your comfort at night. According to the Mayo Clinic, elevating your knees with a pillow supports your spine’s natural curvature and takes pressure off your back.

What is the best pillow for stomach sleepers?

Stomach sleepers might do best by not supporting their heads with pillows at all. Removing the pillow from your belly sleeping equation might promote proper spine alignment and reduce the back pain that is commonly associated with this sleep position.

If you insist on sleeping with a pillow as a stomach sleeper, however, it would be best to use a thinner pillow that isn’t contoured. Contoured pillows are designed to support proper spine position when you’re sleeping on your side or on your back, and they aren’t appropriate for stomach sleeping. We’d recommend the Panda Junior Pillow since it’s the thinnest option we offer or the Panda Hybrid Pillow if you need something thicker.

What is the best mattress for stomach sleepers?

Stomach sleepers should sleep on firmer mattresses. Softer mattresses conform to the contours of your body, making it feel like you’re sleeping on a cloud. Sleeping on a soft mattress as a stomach sleeper, however, could exacerbate the potential pain-inducing effects of sleeping on your stomach. While soft mattresses may be appropriate for side or back sleepers, belly sleepers would do better with mattresses that provide extra support.

As a result, we’d recommend the Panda Premium mattress to stomach sleepers. Not only is this mattress a significant upgrade from our Panda Classic Mattress, but it also has an additional layer of memory foam to provide enhanced firmness. While the Panda Classic has a firmness rating of 6/10, the Panda Premium mattress has an 8/10 firmness rating. That extra firmness will keep you comfortable throughout the night.

Final tips for sleeping on your stomach

Let’s summarize things with a few quick tips:

  • Try switching to sleeping on your back or side if you’re suffering from back pain
  • Ditch the pillow as a stomach sleeper for sweeter dreams
  • Make stomach sleeping more comfortable with a firmer mattress

Sleeping on your stomach doesn’t have to be a struggle, and PandaZzz has mattress solutions for every type of sleeper. Take advantage of our 100-night guarantee to experience blissful sleep entirely risk-free.