How do I sleep on my back?
March 13, 2006 4:13 AM   Subscribe

SleepFilter: Please help me learn to fall asleep on my back.

I frequently wake up on my back, but I always have to go to sleep on my stomach. I'd like to start consistently falling asleep on my back or side. Strangely, I can frequently sleep on my back (or side) when I'm just taking a nap, but there's something about getting into bed which makes it really hard to fall asleep on my back.
posted by OmieWise to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I would isolate this problem as such that you are taking too much time to fall asleep, therefore you are shifting around to varying positions. A liberal application of waking up early, exercise, and drinking of beers should allow you to fall asleep quickly enough so that you don't begin to feel uncomfortable before you pass out and, accordingly, change positions.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 4:26 AM on March 13, 2006

WHY DO YOU CARE? Just curious.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:17 AM on March 13, 2006

ParisParamus: sleeping on ones stomach can cause back and especially neck problems since the neck has to be craned to the side for one to breathe. Unless you're sleeping on a massage table with a big hole in the middle or something.
posted by grouse at 5:34 AM on March 13, 2006

posted by grouse at 5:34 AM on March 13, 2006

I have the same problem. As stupid as it sounds, I've found that putting my hands under the small of my back as I'm trying to fall asleep (as if standing at parade rest) does it for me.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 5:41 AM on March 13, 2006

posted by Who_Am_I at 5:55 AM on March 13, 2006

Sleeping on your stomach or left side is better for your breathing. When you sleep on your back your diaphragm is fighting gravity which causes you to hyperventilate in your sleep, symptoms being snoring, sleep apnea, etc ... If your back is the problem then get a better mattress like a tempurpedic (or a high quality copy).
posted by blueyellow at 5:57 AM on March 13, 2006

Get a big fluffy pillow and lace it between your knees as you're falling asleep. This will support you on your side.
posted by Sara Anne at 6:54 AM on March 13, 2006

I was advised to try hugging a pillow while sleeping so that there's a weight on me. You might try that.
posted by phoenixc at 6:56 AM on March 13, 2006

Get a pajama shirt with a breast pocket (or better yet, sew a pocket onto the center of the chest of an existing shirt). Put a tennis ball in the pocket. You'll never sleep on your front again.
posted by Plutor at 7:11 AM on March 13, 2006

Yeah, I have moderate sleep apnea that is least bad when I sleep on my stomach. I actually sleep on my stomach without turning my head, with my chin stuck in the top edge of my (very firm Tempurpedic) pillow and my nose free to breathe. I look like a beached whale but it's actually comfortable.

But if you're trying to stop Plutor's suggestion is good - even a ping-pong ball would do it. Just sew a little patch pocket on the front of an old tee shirt.
posted by nicwolff at 8:39 AM on March 13, 2006

Maybe you're just not a soldier or starfish.
posted by Rash at 8:49 AM on March 13, 2006

Pillow between your legs (reducing lower back/hip discomfort). Possibly one between your arms too.

Sew a tennis ball in the front of a tshirt - when you roll over you'll be uncomfortable and will find your side/back.
posted by filmgeek at 10:16 AM on March 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

Try out each one of the positions illustrated in Rash's link, and see what works out best for you.
posted by Sharcho at 10:29 AM on March 13, 2006

I had some back pain for awhile and was forced to go to sleep on my back for several weeks. Previously I never go to sleep this way. Eventually I got used to it and now I even find it comfortable, even though my back is not in pain anymore.
posted by jockc at 11:18 AM on March 13, 2006

I feel like a crank having just mentioned this in another thread, but how dark is your bedroom? I put up some blackout curtains recently and they have made a huge difference to my sleep quality. I bet they would help you get to sleep in a new position.
posted by teleskiving at 11:43 AM on March 13, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for all the advice.

ParisParamus writes "WHY DO YOU CARE? Just curious."

I care for three reasons: 1) My ankles hurt when my feet are flattened on the bed as I sleep on my stomach, I have to have them hanging off the bed which I sometimes don't like. 2) I struggle with some back pain. 3) Sometimes sleeping on my stomach is really difficult, like when I'm in a sleeping bag, and it would be really nice to sleep on my back in those kinds of situations.
posted by OmieWise at 3:01 PM on March 13, 2006

As strange as it sounds, I always seem to have much more vivid and lucid dreams the few times I have been able to sleep on my back. Normally I do not remember a single thing about my dreams. Unfortuately I think I have the same problem that you have, that I cannot just lie there on my back and fall asleep -- the desire to turn over is too great. The times that I have managed to do it I end up putting one arm over my head so that my eyes are nestled in the crevice of my elbow. I guess this blocks off most of the ambient light, which is prehaps most exaggerated when on my back compared to the side.
posted by Rhomboid at 4:27 PM on March 13, 2006

just stay in bed long enough on your back. eventually you will fall asleep. it will take a little longer for a while, until you get used to it. i was a hardcore bedhugger until back and neck issues caught up with me and I made the switch.

i miss it sometimes because my husband sleeps that way but just like cigarettes I think I am healthier denying myself the habit.

good luck!
posted by macinchik at 5:40 PM on March 14, 2006 [1 favorite]

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