Sleeping positions

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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 preferences[edit]

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% favoured 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 issues[edit]

Sleep position in babies[edit]

In the 1958 edition of his best-selling book The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care, paediatrician 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]

Sleep position and snoring[edit]

It is recommended that people at risk of obstructive sleep apnea sleep on their side[4] and with a 30° or higher elevation of the upper body.[5] Snoring, which may be (but is not necessarily) an indicator of obstructive sleep apnea, may also be alleviated by sleeping on one's side.[6][7]

Sleep position and heart disease[edit]

Modern scientific studies have suggested a beneficial effect of the 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.[8]

Sleep position and gastroesophageal reflux[edit]

The right lateral sleeping position results in much more reflux in the night than the left lateral position and prone position.[9][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]

Sleeping on stomach is prohibited in Islam reference "It was narrated from Qais bin Tihfah Al-Ghifari that his father said: "The Messenger of Allah(ﷺ) found me sleeping in the masjid on my stomach. He nudged me with his foot and said: 'Why are you sleeping like this? This is a kind of sleep that Allah dislikes,' or 'that Allah hates.'" حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ الصَّبَّاحِ، حَدَّثَنَا الْوَلِيدُ بْنُ مُسْلِمٍ، عَنِ الأَوْزَاعِيِّ، عَنْ يَحْيَى بْنِ أَبِي كَثِيرٍ، عَنْ قَيْسِ بْنِ طِخْفَةَ الْغِفَارِيِّ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، قَالَ أَصَابَنِي رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ نَائِمًا فِي الْمَسْجِدِ عَلَى بَطْنِي فَرَكَضَنِي بِرِجْلِهِ وَقَالَ " مَا لَكَ وَلِهَذَا النَّوْمِ هَذِهِ نَوْمَةٌ يَكْرَهُهَا اللَّهُ أَوْ يُبْغِضُهَا اللَّهُ " . Grade : Sahih (Darussalam) Reference  : Sunan Ibn Majah 3723 In-book reference  : Book 33, Hadith 68 English translation  : Vol. 5, Book 33, Hadith 3723"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Good health rests on a good night's sleep/". 20 May 2019. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  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"[dead link], International Journal of Epidemiology, Oxford University Press.
  4. ^ "Obstructive sleep apnea - Lifestyle Changes". University of Maryland Medical Center. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ "Snoring and Sleep Apnea". American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. Archived from the original on April 7, 2010. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  7. ^ Riley, Meg. "Mattress Of 2019: Buyer's Guide". Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  8. ^ Chen GY, Kuo CD. The effect of the lateral decubitus position on vagal tone. Anaesthesia. 1997;52:653–7. [PubMed]
  9. ^ Khoury RM, Camacho-Lobato L, Katz PO, Mohiuddin MA, Castell DO. Influence of spontaneous sleep positions on nighttime recumbent reflux in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease. Am J Gastroenterol. 1999 Aug;94(8):2069-73
  10. ^ Fujiwara Y, Arakawa T, Fass R. Gastroesophageal reflux disease and sleep. Gastroenterol Clin North Am. 2013 Mar;42(1):57-70.
  11. ^ Bahammam AS. Sleep from an Islamic perspective. Ann Thorac Med. 2011;6:187–192. [PubMed]