Sleeping on your back is good for you: here's how to learn to do it

Sleeping on your back helps everything from your spine to your skin, and here's how you can train yourself to do it

sleeping on your back
(Image credit: Getty)

Research has proved time and time again that sleeping on your back is a very, very good way to sleep well. In fact, although not all people are able to sleep on their backs, it is one of the healthiest positions for sleeping (along with sleeping on your left side). In particular, sleeping on your back is great for alleviating back, shoulder, and jaw ache; it's also been linked to sinusitis relief and younger-looking skin with fewer lines. 

Keep scrolling for five top tips to help train your body to sleep on its back.

1. Invest in a firmer mattress

Want to reap the benefits of sleeping on your back, but not sure how to do it? We'll tell right away: the mattress you choose is the single most crucial element in training yourself to sleep on your back. If you want to make this your default sleeping position, look out for a supportive mattress that's on the firmer side. If your mattress is too soft, you are guaranteed to wake up in agony if you try sleeping on your back, because your muscles will be tense throughout the night in trying to compensate for the lack of support.

Check out our Eve mattress review if you're thinking of investing in the right mattress for sleeping on your back. 

2. Try a new mattress topper

If your current mattress is on the soft side and you can't afford to replace it, try investing in a supportive mattress topper – just make sure that the topper is described as 'firm'. One of our personal favourites for firming up a mattress is the Soft as Down with Silk topper from Soak & Sleep.

3. Consider a flatter pillow

The next thing to consider is your pillow: is yours keeping your head too high up? If so, you won't be able to sleep on your back for very long, as your neck will begin to hurt. Try out a slightly flatter pillow, or one that's advertised as 'soft', as it'll allow your neck to be flatter.

The other trick, which works well if you're used to sleeping on your side, is to buffer your head with extra pillows on each side, so that you're more likely to remain lying on your back.

4. Relieve pressure on your back with extra pillows

If you're still uncomfortable, consider placing an extra pillow under your knees, and/or under your lower back. 

5. When you shouldn't sleep on your back

There are health conditions that may interfere with your ability to sleep on your back, in which case sleeping on your side is perfectly fine and actually preferable:

  • Pregnancy: Many (though not all) women find that sleeping on their side during pregnancy relieves some of the discomfort; different health practitioners have different views on which sleeping position is healthier for the baby, so always consult your GP and midwife.
  • Acid reflux/heartburn: If you suffer from this condition, you may find that sleeping on your left side rather than your back relieves your symptoms.
  • Snoring: If you suffer from snoring and/or sleep apnoea, sleeping on your back is likely to exacerbate your symptoms; again, try sleeping on your left side instead. 

Read our Nectar mattress review – rated as the best mattress for side sleepers by our mattress expert.