Sleeping positions

The sleeping position is the body configuration assumed by a person during or prior to sleeping. It has been shown to have health implications, particularly for babies.


Sleeping preferencesEdit

A Canadian survey found that 39% of respondents preferring the "log" position (lying on one's side with the arms down the side) and 28% preferring to sleep on their side with their legs bent.[1]

A Travelodge survey found that 50% of heterosexual British couples prefer sleeping back-to-back, either not touching (27%) or touching (23%). Spooning was next, with the man on the outside 20% of the time vs. 8% with the woman on the outside. 10% favored the "lovers' knot" (facing each other with legs intertwined), though all but 2% separated before going to sleep. The "Hollywood pose" of the woman with her head and arm on the man's chest was chosen by 4%.[2]

Health issuesEdit

In the 1958 edition of his best-selling book The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care, pediatrician Dr Benjamin Spock warned against placing a baby on its back, writing, "if [an infant] vomits, he's more likely to choke on the vomitus." However, later studies have shown that placing a young baby in a prone position increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). A 2005 study concluded that "systematic review of preventable risk factors for SIDS from 1970 would have led to earlier recognition of the risks of sleeping on the front and might have prevented over 10,000 infant deaths in the UK and at least 50 000 in Europe, the USA, and Australasia."[3] champions sleeping on one's side, particularly the left side, for pregnant women, claiming this "will increase the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the placenta and your baby."[4] A couple of research papers[5][6] also link sleeping on one's back during pregnancy with lower birth weight and increased risk of stillbirth, but these results must be corroborated by other larger studies.

It is recommended that people at risk of obstructive sleep apnea sleep on their side[7] and with a 30° or higher elevation of the upper body.[8] Snoring, which may be (but is not necessarily) an indicator of obstructive sleep apnea, may also be alleviated by sleeping on one's side.[9]


The Chinese feng shui and Indian Vastu Shastra systems describe favorable and unfavorable geographical directions (north, south, east, west) for sleeping. Feng shui also factors in the configuration of the bedroom in the positioning of the bed.[10] In Islamic culture, some sleep positions are encouraged while others are discouraged based on the practice (Sunnah) and recommendations of Muhammad. Thus, many Muslims sleep on their right side, particularly, in the initial part of sleep. Muhammad said, “Whenever you go to bed, perform ablution like that for the prayer, and lie on your right side” [SM 2710).[11] In description of the sleep of Muhammad, a Hadith states, “When the Prophet (pbuh) wants to go to sleep, he puts his right hand under his cheek” [SM 2713]. Modern scientific studies have suggested a beneficial effect of right lateral decubitus position on the heart. In particular, one study assessed the autonomic effect of three sleep positions (supine, left lateral decubitus, and right lateral decubitus) in healthy subjects using spectral heart rate variability analysis.The results indicated that cardiac vagal activity was greatest when subjects were in the right lateral decubitus position.[12]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Good health rests on a good night's sleep". CBC News. 11 June 2007. Archived from the original on September 6, 2013. Retrieved 9 Dec 2014. 
  2. ^ "Couples' sleeping poses uncovered". BBC News. 7 October 2006. Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  3. ^ Ruth Gilbert, Georgia Salanti, Melissa Harden and Sarah See (2005). "Infant sleeping position and the sudden infant death syndrome: systematic review of observational studies and historical review of recommendations from 1940 to 2002", International Journal of Epidemiology, Oxford University Press.
  4. ^ "Sleeping Positions During Pregnancy". Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  5. ^ Stacey; et al. (2011). "Association between maternal sleep practices and risk of late stillbirth: a case-control study". BMJ. 342: d3403. doi:10.1136/bmj.d3403. PMC 3114953 . PMID 21673002. 
  6. ^ Owusu; et al. (2013). "Association of maternal sleep practices with pre-eclampsia, low birth weight, and stillbirth among Ghanaian women". International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics. 121 (3): 261–265. doi:10.1016/j.ijgo.2013.01.013. 
  7. ^ "Obstructive sleep apnea - Lifestyle Changes". University of Maryland Medical Center. Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  8. ^ Neill; et al. (January 1997). "Effects of sleep posture on upper airway stability in patients with obstructive sleep apnea". American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. 155 (1): 199–204. doi:10.1164/ajrccm.155.1.9001312. PMID 9001312. Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  9. ^ "Snoring and Sleep Apnea". American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. Archived from the original on April 7, 2010. Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  10. ^ David Daniel Kennedy. "Applying Feng Shui Principles to Your Bed". Retrieved August 22, 2010. 
  11. ^ Bahammam AS. Sleep from an Islamic perspective. Ann Thorac Med. 2011;6:187–192. [PubMed]
  12. ^ Chen GY, Kuo CD. The effect of the lateral decubitus position on vagal tone. Anaesthesia. 1997;52:653–7. [PubMed]