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We have been covering sleeping positions in recent articles and the pillows that work best with these positions. The side sleeper, back sleeper, and stomach sleeper. Stomach sleepers are sometimes called abdomen sleepers, or belly sleepers. This often criticized position puts more strain and pressure on joints and muscles than the other 2 sleeping positions and is often associated with most complaints and problems. To help we will share tips that can offer relief including the importance of choosing the correct pillow for a stomach sleeper.
Photo by joeshlabotnik-Violet Sleeping
For those who sleep on their abdomen, first and foremost is their need to breathe. To do this they turn their heads to one side which leaves the spine in a very unnatural and un-relaxed position. A great example of the problem this can cause is if you have ever had your head turned looking in the same direction at something for a long period of time. This unnatural position can cause severe pain especially after an extended period of time and at the very least a kink in their neck may develop. This is due to the unnatural strain of muscles and joints. There is another problem with not having the correct pillow for stomach sleeper. Belly floppers try to find relief from spinal pain and pressures by raising their arms above their head. This position is typically the cause of shoulder issues, and arms and hands tingling and falling asleep on them.
If you are unable to train yourself and change to a healthier sleeping position like the side or back then the proper pillow becomes even more essential. We suggest you focus on the proper relaxed spinal positioning, something that nearly all doctors and chiropractors agree on. For belly sleepers this means a very low profile pillow and perhaps no pillow at all. A pillow that is too big and fluffy can put the neck in raised and strained position that is likely to cause neck pain and place a lot of strain on the back. Additionally many sleepers have found relief from lower back pain caused by sleeping on their stomachs. They do this by inserting a pillow under their lower pelvis or abdomen region to help lift the hips and minimize and reduce lower back strain, especially on the lower spine. Getting the increased body weight off the chest and lungs also allows for full deep breaths letting the lungs fully expand.
Interestingly we have found that many stomach sleepers seem to find the most comfort with no pillow at all. Sleeping on your abdomen with a pillow can be hard on your back. If you must do it and can’t sleep any other way, then try to reduce the pressure on your back by placing a pillow under your pelvis and lower abdomen. Our customers place a pillow under their heads as long as it doesn’t place too much strain on their backs. If it does cause strain, many try sleeping without a pillow under their head at all. Non-fluffy pillows with a low fill power of down, feathers, synthetic down can be good choices.
Another great idea is to consider some of the newer pillows that the fill added or removed to customize firmness or softness. These pillows have zippers giving access to the fill materials which can include wool, shredding latex, or memory foam. Every sleeper is different. Their size, weight, and health can all factor in to what works or doesn’t. Our suggestion to work with your chiropractor or physician and try many and keep an inventory of different pillows, such diversity may offer relief when different problems arise.