Johns Hopkins Medicine’s Rachel Salas, MD, an associate professor of neurology, explains in a university blog post why some sleeping positions are better than others.
Back and neck pain: When it comes to alleviating pain, sleeping on your back is a mixed bag, Salas says. For people with neck pain, sleeping face up can sometimes make the pain worse. But many people find back sleep is helpful for alleviating low-back pain. If you have soreness in your spine, experiment with different positions and pillows to find what works for you.
Snoring and sleep apnea: Obstructive sleep apnea causes the airways to collapse during sleep, leading to pauses in breathing. It often goes hand-in-hand with snoring. Positioning yourself on your side or stomach can help the airways stay open to reduce snoring and alleviate mild apnea, Salas says.
Reflux and heartburn: If you suffer from heartburn, sleeping on your right side can make symptoms worse, Salas says. That’s true for people who have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and for people who have heartburn for other reasons, such as pregnant women. Flip to your left side to cool the burn.