There are many ways in which you can sleep, and some may be comfier to you than others. However, there have been studies into which of the positions are best for you and your body. Some people love sleeping flat on their backs, while others may prefer to crash out on their stomachs. However, the most common sleeping position is sleeping on your side. One study showed that just over 40% of people sleep this way, which is an astounding amount. Finding the right mattress is also key and the best side sleeper mattress is thought to be a soft to medium-firm memory foam one. However, while side sleeping may be common and comfy, it can actually have some negative effects. Keep reading to find out what exactly side sleeping is and why it’s bad for you.

What Is It?

Side sleeping is exactly as the name suggests, sleeping while laying on your side. You can sleep in this position no matter the size of your bed, if you’re sharing it with a partner or a pet, and it’s said to be good for keeping your spine aligned. It’s also thought to help snorers as you aren’t obstructing any of your airways in this position. Although side sleeping is very common and generally thought to be a good position to sleep in, it does have some negatives.


One of the major problems people face when sleeping on their side is heartburn. This can be particularly bad if you have acid reflux too. It’s thought that sleeping on your left side increases the chances of a heartburn attack as it tilts your stomach acid up towards your oesophagus. However, you can easily remedy this by switching over to your right side instead.

The Wrong Mattress

Having the wrong mattress can actually make sleeping on your side the worst position for a number of reasons. Firstly, side sleepers need a lot of support along their pressure points such as shoulders, hips, and knees. If you have a mattress that’s too soft, it won’t provide any support to them and will increase the strain they face each night. On the other hand, having a mattress that’s too firm will cause these points of your body to become sore as they’re held firmly in place all night. Ideally, you want a mattress that’s soft enough to feel comfortable, but firm enough to provide adequate support. This way you can optimise sleeping on your side, rather than putting unnecessary strain on your body.

Skin Problems

One problem that you may face when sleeping on your side is issues with your skin. It’s been said that prolonged side sleeping can actually cause wrinkles or force them prematurely. Although wrinkles are nothing to be ashamed of, it’s something to be considerate of if you’re actively trying to fend them off. Experts recommend changing up which side you sleep on regularly so that your skin isn’t constantly being pulled in one direction every night. Another potential problem is sagging of the breasts caused by side sleeping. This sleeping position means that they will fall downwards onto the bed which over time, stretches them out. Again, this will occur naturally with age, but it can happen sooner if you sleep on the same side over and over again.

Pressure Points, Pins And Needles

As mentioned, having the right mattress will help you keep the pressure off the side of your body, but even the best mattress in the world may not be able to eliminate pressure completely. Some sleep experts warn that sleeping on your side can put a lot of pressure on your stomach and lungs, leading to difficulty breathing and stomach issues at night. You may also find that you start to suffer from achy shoulders during the day. Side sleeping puts immense pressure on the shoulder you choose to sleep on and if you sleep on the same side too much, you’ll find that your shoulders constantly feel sore. Another issue side sleepers will often face is pins and needles in their arms. This is because generally, you’ll sleep on one of your arms, restricting the blood flow and pressing on the nerves. Pins and needles might seem like a minor inconvenience, but when you’re woken up each night because your arm has gone dead, you’ll soon wish you were able to sleep right through.

How To Sleep Well On Your Side

Although there are some issues that come with side sleeping, you can work to fix them. Apart from having a proper supportive mattress, you should try sleeping in a more foetal side position as it helps keep your spine elongated, reducing the pressure on the rest of your body. If you feel like your knees are suffering while on your side, try popping a pillow between them at night as this extra support can really help reduce the pressure. If you’re worried about wrinkles, switch your old cotton pillowcases to soft ones made from silk. These are much kinder to your skin and can help stop some of the draggings this position causes.

So, although it’s commonly thought that side sleeping is the best position to sleep in, it does have some problems. It’s not impossible to sleep comfortably and healthily on your side, but it might take a little extra effort. Things like your mattress, the type of pillowcase you have, and which side you sleep on can all have an effect. This is why it’s crucial to make sure you think about how you could improve how you sleep. You’ll soon be getting the best night’s sleep every night all while sleeping on your side.

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