Problems Faced by Side Sleepers and How to Tackle Them

Problems Faced by Side Sleepers and How to Tackle Them

Problems Faced by side Sleeping Overview

If you’re a side sleeper, you’re not alone. In fact, according to sleep studies, about 74% of people prefer sleeping on their sides. While this position has numerous benefits for your health and comfort, it’s not without its challenges.

Side sleepers often face issues such as shoulder pain, back pain, and neck stiffness due to improper alignment of the spine while sleeping. However, with some simple modifications to your sleeping habits and a few helpful products, these problems can be easily tackled. In this article, we’ll explore the common problems faced by side sleepers and provide actionable tips for overcoming them. So if you find yourself struggling with discomfort during the night or waking up with aches and pains in the morning, keep reading!

upside of Sleeping on Sides

Sleeping on your side is one of the most recommended sleeping positions by doctors and sleep experts. It not only helps you fall asleep faster but also has several health benefits. Here are some upsides to sleeping on your side.

Relieves Pain

Sleeping on your side may be the best position for a good night’s sleep that is also kind to your spine. When you sleep in this position, your spine is naturally aligned and supported by the mattress, which helps to relieve pressure points in the back. This can reduce pain and discomfort from conditions such as arthritis or herniated discs. Side sleeping is also believed to reduce snoring or alleviate symptoms of sleep apnea.

However, it’s not just about the position: using a pillow between your knees while sleeping on your side can further improve spinal alignment and alleviate pressure on other joints such as hips and knees. Using a pillow provides support for the lower body, keeping it in an elevated position that takes the weight off of these joints. This can be especially helpful for those with bone or joint issues such as osteoarthritis or bursitis.

Improves Gut Health

While there’s no concrete proof that sleeping on one side is more effective in aiding digestion, some studies suggest that left-sided sleeping might have a few benefits. For example, according to one study published in The Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, left-side sleeping can help reduce symptoms of acid reflux. This is because when you sleep on your left side, the stomach and its contents remain below the esophagus – reducing the likelihood of stomach acid flowing back up into the throat.

Another potential benefit of left-side sleeping is improved bowel movement. Experts believe that this might be due to gravity working with your body’s natural digestive processes when you sleep on your left side. When you’re lying on your right side, however, it may actually cause food to move more slowly through your system and result in constipation or indigestion.

Gut health

Supports Brain Health

Sleeping on your side may be more than just a comfortable position. Preliminary studies indicate that it can also promote optimal brain health. While most of the research has been conducted on animals, there is evidence to suggest that side sleeping can aid in eliminating toxins from the brain and possibly reduce the risk of neurological disorders.

The glymphatic system plays a vital role in removing waste from the brain, and this process occurs during sleep. Side sleeping seems to optimize this cleansing process by allowing cerebrospinal fluid to flow through the brain more efficiently. This helps to remove unnecessary proteins and other toxic substances that accumulate in the brain over time. The elimination of such toxins is critical since they have been linked to several neurodegenerative conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease.

Sleep Apnea

If you wake up exhausted or suffering from low-quality sleep, which leaves you exhausted through the entire day, it’s possible you’re having sleep problems. The most frequent type of sleep disorder can be Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is when the muscles of the airways of your upper part relax, causing a blockage in breathing. There are many causes of OSA which include being obese or overweight or having abnormal upper airway anatomy, taking medications such as alcohol, drugs, or age, sleeping in a back position, having REM or dreaming sleep, and smoking.

When you lie on your back, you could cause the muscles that provide support to the soft tissues in your throat to relax temporarily in response to gravity. This can exacerbate the symptoms of OSA, including continuous and frequent snoring, gasping, or choking during sleep, as well as frequent nighttime awakenings or sleepiness. Sleeping on your back is a way to prevent the occurrence of OSA. It will help ease symptoms and improve overall sleeping quality by opening your airways.

If you are suffering from one of the typical symptoms of OSA like snoring that is loud or frequent awakenings at night, it’s important to think about shifting your position of sleep to sleep on your back. This small change can result in better sleep and reduce the effects of OSA.


In the third and second trimesters of pregnancy, medical professionals might suggest that pregnant women lie on their sides, with their knees bent in a relaxed position. This is a good position for both mother and the child. When a woman lies on her right side, it increases blood flow to her heart and permits more supply of blood for the fetus, kidneys, and uterus.

Additionally, this position can help ease the pressure on the liver because it helps keep the uterus away from the organ. The liver is a vital organ that has multiple functions in maintaining health during pregnancy. It is accountable for removing toxic substances from your body, as well as producing bile that assists in digestion. The position of your sleep on the left lowers the pressure on this important organ, which allows it to function more efficiently during pregnancy.

It’s important to keep in mind that even though lying on the left may be beneficial in pregnancy, it’s not mandatory to sleep on your left side all night.

Downsides of Sleeping on Sides

Sleeping on your side is one of the most common sleeping positions, and it’s easy to understand why. This position can help alleviate snoring, sleep apnea, and acid reflux, making it a great choice for those who suffer from these conditions. In addition, it can also reduce back pain and promote better spinal alignment.

However, there are also some drawbacks to sleeping on your side that you should be aware of:

Neck Pain

Side sleeping is one of the best positions to sleep in, especially for people with back pain. However, if your chin placement is not correct, it can cause a strain on your neck causing discomfort and even pain. Sleeping with your chin on the pillow while keeping your head aligned with your spine can help maintain a neutral position for your neck.

It’s essential to avoid tucking your chin towards your chest when side sleeping as this can lead to an increase in pressure on the joints and muscles in the front of the neck area. This pressure may result in tension headaches and neck pain by morning. Try using a supportive pillow that keeps your head aligned with the rest of your spine while cushioning both sides of the face adequately.

Neck pain & back pain

Shoulder Pain

Sleeping on the side can cause discomfort in the shoulder and a misalignment. This is a common problem for those who sleep on their sides, and they frequently complain of waking up with a stiff or sore shoulder. The reason for the discomfort is that when you lie on your back, the shoulder may slide into the mattress, causing an imbalance and pain during the day.

To prevent this issue from avoiding this issue, consider the firmest mattress as well as a cushion that is firm. A mattress that is firm will offer more support for your body, ensuring it stays properly aligned throughout the night. It will also lower the chance of sinking into your bed and putting stress on the shoulders, causing discomfort. A firm pillow will keep your head aligned with your shoulders and prevent any strain or tension from the neck muscles.

More Pressure on the Heart

If you’re a left-side sleeper, you may be at a disadvantage when it comes to your heart health. Sleeping on your left side can cause your chest cavity to press against your heart, resulting in increased pressure that can impact both cardiac output and heart rate. This phenomenon has been studied extensively by medical professionals, who have found that patients with congestive heart failure tend to avoid sleeping on their left side as a result of these potential risks.

In addition to the potential effects on cardiac function, there are other factors that may make sleeping on your left side less beneficial than in other positions. For example, some people may find that this position leads to increased snoring or discomfort due to pressure points. However, for those who are concerned about their heart health specifically, avoiding sleeping on the left side may be particularly important in order to minimize any negative impact on cardiovascular function.

Can Develop Bad Posture

Side sleeping is a popular position to achieve a good night’s sleep. However, did you know that it can also help you adapt to bad posture? Sleeping sideways allows your body to twist and turn, which can promote spinal mobility. Although it may not be the best sleeping position for everyone, side sleeping is one of the better positions for those with spine or back problems.

When sleeping on your side, proper alignment is key. Your head should rest between your shoulders and feel relaxed. It’s important to ensure that your chin isn’t tucked towards your chest as this can cause strain on the neck muscles. Body pillows and knee pillows are great tools to help maintain proper alignment while sleeping sideways. They work by providing support and preventing unwanted movement during sleep.

Risk of Acne

Pillows are one of the most common sources of acne breakouts, and it’s not difficult to see why. These fluffy cushions collect a wide range of dirt, sweat, and facial oils over time that can clog your pores and lead to blemishes. What’s more, when you sleep on your pillow for seven to nine hours every night, these impurities come into direct contact with your skin.

If you’re prone to acne breakouts or have sensitive skin, sleeping on your side can increase the risk even further. As you sleep with your face pressing against the pillowcase, bacteria from previous nights accumulate in the fabric and transfer onto your skin. This makes it harder for your pores to breathe properly and contributes to pimples forming.

To prevent acne caused by dirty pillows, it is recommended that you wash them every week using hypoallergenic detergent.

Which Side Should You Sleep On?

When it comes to sleeping, the position you choose can have a significant impact on both the quality of your sleep and your overall health. Sleeping on your left or right side is often recommended by doctors for various health conditions such as sleep apnea and lower back pain relief. However, determining which side is best for you depends entirely on your individual needs and health condition.


Millions of individuals worldwide are affected by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition where stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, resulting in discomforting symptoms such as heartburn.One simple solution to relieve GERD symptoms is to sleep on your left side. This position can prevent stomach acid from entering the esophagus and reduce the frequency and severity of heartburn.

During pregnancy, many women experience heartburn due to hormonal changes and increased pressure on the stomach from a growing uterus. Sleeping on your left side during pregnancy can also help alleviate this discomfort by promoting proper digestion and reducing acid reflux symptoms. Additionally, sleeping on the left side increases blood flow to the placenta, which benefits both mother and baby.

heart burn

Heart Failure

Heart failure is a serious condition that affects millions of people worldwide. One interesting aspect of this disease is that patients with heart failure tend to prefer sleeping on their right side. This preference has been observed in many studies, and echocardiograms have shown that sleeping on the left side can negatively impact the way the heart functions in these patients.

The reason why patients with heart failure prefer sleeping on their right side is not entirely clear, but there are some theories. Some experts believe that it may be related to a phenomenon called “orthopnea,” which refers to difficulty breathing when lying down flat. Sleeping on the right side may alleviate some of this discomfort by reducing pressure on the lungs and improving breathing.

During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is an incredible journey for every woman, but it also brings some physical challenges that can affect the quality of sleep. Sleeping on the left side during pregnancy is widely recommended by doctors and midwives because it provides many benefits to both mother and baby. It increases blood flow between the heart, fetus, kidneys, and uterus which helps distribute nutrients and oxygen to the growing baby more efficiently than sleeping on your back or stomach.

Moreover, sleeping on your left side during pregnancy can prevent a condition known as supine hypotensive syndrome (SHS). SHS occurs when a pregnant woman lies flat on her back, causing pressure from the weight of the uterus to compress major blood vessels that return blood from her legs to her heart. This results in dizziness, nausea, and a drop in blood pressure.

Side Sleepers Positions

Sleep is a crucial aspect of our lives. It not only helps us rejuvenate and recharge for the next day but also reveals a lot about our personalities. For many of us, sleeping on our sides is the most comfortable option, with various sub-positions that we often don’t give much thought to. However, new research suggests that these subconscious sleep postures may actually reveal something about who we are as individuals.

Fetal Position

The way you sleep can say a lot about your personality. If you’re someone who curls up like a newborn baby, with your knees drawn up to your chest, you’re not alone. In fact, 41% of people default to this classic sleeping position, making it the most popular choice. 

But what does this say about you? According to sleep experts and psychologists, those who prefer this position tend to have tough exteriors but are sensitive at heart. They may come off as cold or distant at first glance, but once they open up, they reveal their vulnerable side. This is often due to a need for protection and security – just like how babies curl up in the womb for safety.

The Log

If you are a side sleeper who tends to keep your arms down and close to your body, then you may be part of the log sleep type. Sleeping in this position is quite common and has been associated with certain personality traits. According to sleep experts, people who sleep in the log position are typically easy-going social individuals that get along well with others.

One possible explanation for this association between personality and sleep position is related to how our bodies physically respond during sleep. As we enter deeper stages of non-REM sleep (NREM), our muscles begin to relax, leading to an increased sense of comfort. This relaxation may also extend beyond our physical state into our emotional state, making us more relaxed and approachable in social situations.

The Yearner

Individuals who sleep on their side with their arms extended in front of them are referred to as “sleepers.” This is one of the most common sleeping positions, and it has its own unique set of characteristics. People who sleep in this position are often described as being open-minded and flexible, but they may also exhibit a degree of suspicion. They tend to be thoughtful and deliberate in their decision-making process, weighing the advantages and disadvantages before taking action.

The Pillow Hugger

Individuals who sleep on their side while affectionately hugging a pillow are often referred to as pillow-huggers. This sleeping position is characterized by the person’s body being curled up slightly with one or both arms wrapped around a pillow. Pillow-huggers are known for their endearing nature and place a high value on their relationships with others. They tend to be warm, loving, and nurturing individuals who enjoy physical touch and affection.

The Thinker

The way we sleep at night can reveal a lot about our personalities. One such sleeping position is the “thinker” position, where people sleep with their chin resting on their hand as if they are deep in thought even during their slumber. This variation of the fetal position shows that these individuals tend to be contemplative and introspective. They are thinkers by nature, constantly pondering big life questions and seeking answers to complex problems.

Side Sleepers Positions

Tips to Get More Relaxed Sleep with Side Position

Side sleeping is one of the most popular sleep positions. It can relieve pressure on your spine and reduce snoring, making it an ideal position for people who have back pain or sleep apnea. However, some side sleepers may experience discomfort or pain due to improper sleeping posture. That’s why it’s essential to follow these tips to optimize your position for better sleep.


Selecting the right mattress is essential for a good night’s sleep, and it becomes even more crucial for those who predominantly sleep on their side. Such individuals need to be extra careful while picking a mattress as one side of their body carries the entire weight, leading to discomfort and pain if not supported properly. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid extremely soft or hard mattresses that do not provide adequate support to the body.

A medium-firm mattress is considered ideal for side sleepers as it can offer support to the heavier parts of the body while also preventing pressure accumulation on hips and shoulders. This type of mattress allows proper alignment of the spine, which reduces back pain issues. Additionally, a medium-firm mattress also helps in reducing motion transfer between partners during sleeping hours, providing an undisturbed sleep experience.

When selecting a suitable mattress for side sleeping, one should also consider its material composition.


For individuals who prefer sleeping on their side, it can be difficult to keep their head in line with their spine using a single regular pillow. This is due to the curvature of the neck and the gap between the shoulder and head, which causes an imbalance in spinal alignment. When this happens, it can lead to strain on the neck muscles and discomfort in the morning.

To avoid this problem, many sleep experts recommend using two pillows or a thicker therapeutic pillow. These types of pillows provide additional support for your neck and help keep your head aligned with the rest of your spine throughout the night. By doing so, they reduce pressure on your neck muscles while allowing for proper blood circulation.

Additionally, using two pillows or a thicker therapeutic pillow can also improve snoring problems by opening up air passages in your throat.

Get Into a Symmetrical Side Sleeping Position

Sleeping on your side can be a great way to get a good night’s rest, but it’s important to remember that the position you sleep in can have an impact on your body. Sleeping in an asymmetrical position with your spine curved or twisted can put pressure on your muscles and joints, leading to discomfort and pain in the morning. To avoid this, it is recommended that you sleep on your side in a symmetrical position that maintains the natural curvature of your spine.

To achieve this position, start by placing a pillow under your head so that it is level with your shoulders. Make sure that both shoulders are aligned with your hips and keep your chin centered between them. If you find yourself tilting downwards, try to keep your head looking forward instead of down towards the mattress. It’s also important to ensure that both hands and arms are aligned either by your sides or in front of you.

Pregnancy can be an exciting and joyful time, but it can also come with its fair share of discomfort. As a pregnant person’s body changes to accommodate the growing baby, they may experience increased pressure on certain areas of the body, such as the abdomen and lower back. Fortunately, there are some simple solutions that can help relieve this pressure and make pregnancy more comfortable.

One effective way to reduce pressure on the abdomen and between the legs is by placing pillows in these areas while sleeping or resting. A pillow under the belly helps support its weight while reducing strain on the lower back and hips. Additionally, placing a pillow between the legs helps align the hips and reduces strain on muscles in that area. This not only makes sleeping more comfortable but also improves blood circulation throughout the body.

Get Into a Symmetrical Side Sleeping Position

Signs You Need to Consider a Different Sleeping Position

If you’re struggling to find a comfortable sleep position, it might be time to consider sleeping on your back. This position has several potential benefits, including relief from back pain. When combined with side sleeping, back sleeping can help alleviate pressure points and provide a more restful night’s sleep.

One of the key factors in successful back sleeping is choosing the right pillow. Unlike side sleepers, who generally prefer higher loft pillows that provide extra cushioning for their necks and shoulders, back sleepers do best with a medium loft pillow that cradles their head without tilting it forward. This helps maintain proper spinal alignment throughout the night.

While side sleeping has its own advantages – such as reducing snoring and improving digestion – there are also some concerns associated with this position. Wrinkles and shoulder pain are two common issues that can arise from regular side sleeping.

Sleep is essential for good health and well-being, but did you know that the position you sleep in can affect your skin’s appearance? If you are worried about wrinkles, it’s essential to be aware of how sleeping on your side may contribute to them. When you sleep on your side with your face pressed into the pillow, it can compress and stress your skin, leading to wrinkles over time.

To reduce this wrinkle-causing pressure, consider switching up your sleeping position. Sleeping on your back allows you to keep a more neutral spine alignment and lower the risk of developing wrinkles from sleeping. However, if you find yourself experiencing shoulder pain from sleeping in this position or just cannot seem to fall asleep easily like this- try alternating between sides. By focusing on keeping both shoulders aligned while using a supportive mattress and pillow combination that doesn’t let you sink too deep into the mattress.


Side sleeping may be the most comfortable position for some people, but did you know that prolonged side sleeping may cause cartilage breakdown in the shoulder? The acromioclavicular (AC) joint, which is located at the top of the shoulder, is particularly vulnerable to this type of damage. The AC joint connects the collarbone to the scapula and allows for movement of the arm. When this joint is damaged, it can lead to osteoarthritis in the shoulder.

Osteoarthritis is a common condition that affects more than 30 million adults in America alone. It occurs when cartilage breaks down or wears away over time. Cartilage acts as a cushion between bones, allowing them to move smoothly without friction. When cartilage breaks down, bones rub against each other and cause pain and stiffness.

Sleeping on your stomach might feel like the most comfortable position, but it’s widely considered to be one of the worst ways to sleep. This is because sleeping face down can cause neck and spine pain, as well as make it more difficult for you to breathe comfortably. Your body weight is also not distributed properly, which can lead to pressure points that leave you feeling stiff in the morning.

On the other hand, sleeping on your side or back has been found to have numerous benefits for your overall health and well-being. When you sleep on your side or back, it’s easier for your spine to remain aligned and supported throughout the night. This reduces any stress or strain placed on your spinal tissues and allows your muscles to relax and recover from daily activities. Additionally, sleeping in these positions can help reduce snoring and improve breathing patterns during sleep.

For many people, sleeping without a pillow can be a comfortable choice. However, this may not be the best option for those who sleep on their side or back. Sleeping without a pillow can cause pressure to build up in the neck and spine, leading to discomfort and even pain. It’s important to consider your individual needs and preferences when deciding whether or not to use a pillow while you sleep.

If you’re someone who prefers to sleep on their stomach, sleeping without a pillow might actually be beneficial for you. This position puts less strain on your lower back and can help improve your breathing patterns. Additionally, sleeping without a pillow can also reduce the risk of developing wrinkles on your face from prolonged contact with the pillowcase.


Side sleeping has its own set of problems that can affect the quality of your sleep and even lead to long-term health issues. However, with a few simple adjustments and some helpful products, you can make side sleeping more comfortable and enjoyable. Whether it’s investing in a high-quality mattress or trying out different pillow types, there are plenty of ways to address the issues faced by side sleepers. So if you’re someone who loves sleeping on their side but struggles with discomfort or pain, don’t give up hope! Use these tips to get a better night’s rest and wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Sweet dreams!

 more about different sleep-related disorders check out here.

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