Let’s face it. Sleep is a big part of our lives — even if we’re not getting eight hours — but there’s more to it than you might think. If you’re having problems getting enough sleep or have an injury, there’s more to it than laying down and catching some Zzz’s. Your sleep position plays a big role in your sleep quality, which means it might be time for you to switch it up.

Different sleep positions have different benefits. If you’re struggling with pain or other health issues, you might need to switch your sleep position in order to help manage it. And, while it might not be something you can do in one night, it can definitely be worth trying out.

Taking the time to gradually train yourself to sleep in a new position could be the secret to improving your sleep quality. However, if that’s something you aren’t comfortable with, don’t stress about it. You can also try modifying your favorite sleep position to make sure you’re getting the most out of it.

Every individual is different. What’s important is that you’re doing what works for your body and your sleep needs.

There’s a reason why this is the most popular sleep position. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the fetal position has loads of benefits. Not only is it great for lower back pain or pregnancy, sleeping in the fetal position can help reduce snoring.

Unfortunately, sleeping in the fetal position does have a few downsides. Make sure your posture is relatively loose, otherwise your comfy position could limit deep breathing while you snooze. Also, if you have any issues with joint pain or stiffness, sleeping in a tight fetal position might leave you sore in the morning.

Sleeping tip

If you want to make the fetal position more comfortable, make sure your posture is loose and relaxed when you curl up. Keep your legs relatively extended, and you can even try sleeping with a pillow between your knees.

As it turns out, sleeping on your side is actually pretty good for you — especially if you’re sleeping on your left side. Not only can it help reduce snoring, it’s great for your digestion and might even reduce heartburn.

An older study looked at 10 people over the course of two days. The first day, participants rested on their right side after eating a high-fat meal. On the second, they switched to the left side. While this was a small study, researchers discovered that sleeping on the right side increased heartburn and acid reflux, which suggests it could be a good reason for switching sides at night.

Sleeping on your side, on the other hand, may not always be the best. Not only can it cause stiffness in your shoulders, it can also lead to jaw tightness on that side. Plus, research suggests that sleeping on your side could contribute to wrinkles.

Putting a pillow between your lower legs will help better align your hips to avoid low back pain.

Sleeping tip

If you prefer sleeping on your side, make sure to choose a good pillow to avoid neck and back pain. Sleep on whichever side feels most comfortable, but don’t be afraid to switch to a different position if it’s not working for you.

If we had to rank sleeping positions, lying on your stomach might be at the bottom of the list. While it’s a good position for snoring or sleep apnea, the benefits don’t extend much further.

Unfortunately, sleeping on your stomach can cause both neck and back pain. It can also add a lot of unnecessary strain to your muscles and joints, which is why you might be waking up sore and tired. Placing a pillow under your lower belly might help reduce back pain.

Sleeping tip

To make it better, try sleeping with a thin head pillow — or no pillow — to reduce any added stress on your neck. You can also try slipping a pillow under your pelvis to reduce lower back pain.

While it might not be the most popular sleep position, sleeping on your back does offer the most health benefits. Not only does it make it easiest to protect your spine, it can also help relieve hip and knee pain.

As the Cleveland Clinic explains, sleeping on your back uses gravity to keep your body in an even alignment over your spine, which can help reduce any unnecessary pressure on your back or joints. A pillow behind your knees may help support the natural curve of the back.

Plus, if you’re worried about keeping your skin looking fresh, sleeping on your back protects it from any pillow or gravity-induced wrinkles.

On the flip side, sleeping on your back can be difficult for anyone who struggles with snoring or sleep apnea. It can also be difficult for anyone who already struggles with back pain, which is why it’s important to make sure you’re properly supported.

Sleeping tip

If sleeping on your back, try sleeping with a pillow behind your knees to reduce back pain and relieve pressure on your spine. If you’re congested, you can also prop yourself up with an extra pillow to make breathing easier.

We spend roughly one-third of our lives sleeping — or attempting to sleep. Your sleep position matters more than you might think. If you’re having trouble sleeping, your health can suffer. Plus, sleep deprivation is about more than getting enough sleep — sleep quality matters, too.

If you don’t feel rested when you wake up, try practicing good sleep habits. Incorporating sleep hygiene into your regular routine can help boost your sleep quality in a big way:

  • avoid excess caffeine
  • exercise regularly
  • establish a nightly schedule that helps you relax and prepare for sleep

Try keeping a sleep diary for a week or two. You can keep track of any patterns in your sleep habits — and sleep quality — so you can get a better look at what’s working versus what isn’t.

Remember, you don’t have to change your sleep position if you aren’t having any issues. Do what feels best for you. The most important thing is to make sure you’re waking up feeling rested and ready to go.