Most of the issues that stem from sleeping on the stomach are the result of poor spinal positioning. When lying on the stomach, the spine loses its natural curve, and therefore, you can experience tension or strain in the back. This can lead to back pain in the morning or, in more serious cases, chronic pains in the lumbar spine, which is the lower back. You don't just put pressure on your spine when sleeping on the stomach, but on the heart and lungs as well.
The position also puts your hips in an anterior position, which further increases the curve of the lumbar spine and can create spinal disk problems. According to Healthline, a herniated disk is another risk that comes with sleeping on your stomach. It is a condition that occurs when there is a rupture in one of the rubbery cushions (disks) that sit between the individual vertebrae that stack to make your spine. When this gel-like material bulges out from the disk, it can irritate the nerves.
Your neck can also suffer damage, as it is twisted to one side for most of the night. "In order to breathe while lying on your stomach, you must twist your neck to one side. This creates a twist in your neck and puts it out of alignment with the spine," Savy says. That way, one side of the neck gets tight, while the other gets weak. Knots and tension can form in your neck, causing everyday pains and aches, and even more serious neck ailments over time.
Despite all these warnings, if there simply isn’t a different position you are able to fall asleep in, there are a few ways you can lessen the damage. Some healthcare experts suggest placing a pillow under your legs, which elevates the feet above the knees and helps minimize backaches. Another helpful tip is to place a pillow under your hips to keep your lower back in a more neutral position.
It is also important to find a pillow that keeps your head in a more neutral position. "Think of one that has a cutout, like when you get a massage. Or simply alternate which side your head turns to from night to night," is the advice of Lombardo.