Your posture plays a major role in your overall health. Many people overlook the importance of good posture while sleeping, but the way you sleep can affect your waking life in various ways, including your emotional and physical well-being. By using some of these simple tips and sleeping positions for good posture, you can start improving how you sleep and how you feel when you’re awake.

1. Avoid sleeping on your stomach

Sleeping on your side or on your back are the best sleeping positions for good posture.* When you sleep on your stomach, your spine is unable to reach a neutral position, resulting in strain on the back, neck, joints, and muscles. If you’re not able to get comfortable on your side or back, you can improve your posture by placing a pillow or cushion under your pelvis and lower abdomen.** Although sleeping on your side or back may feel strange at first if you’re not used to it, most people are able to adapt quickly.

2. Upgrade your mattress

Even if you’re using appropriate sleeping positions for good posture, you may still be damaging your back if you’re using a mattress that doesn’t provide adequate support. After roughly seven years, most mattresses become too soft and lumpy to allow you to sleep with proper support.*** If you’re not ready to buy a new, firmer mattress, you can improve the support of your current mattress by flipping it over and placing a large piece of plywood between the mattress and the box spring.

3. Use the right pillow

Your pillow and how it’s used can make a big difference when it comes to sleeping positions for good posture. First of all, use a pillow that is not too soft or thick. Just like your mattress, you need a pillow that provides enough support so that your neck remains in a neutral position while you sleep. Be sure to keep the pillow underneath your head and neck, rather than under your shoulders. Try to avoid turning your head, instead opting for a back or side position that keeps your head facing straight.

Young woman relaxing in bed

4. Loosen your muscles before bed and after you wake up

Before you go to bed at night, walk around your house to loosen up. If you have been sitting for an extended period of time, your pelvis may be pressed forward, which can make it difficult to achieve appropriate posture at night. When you wake up in the morning, do some light stretching. Even if you used the right sleeping positions for good posture, stretching your back and rotating your shoulders helps to keep your posture in check throughout the day.

5. Work on your posture during the day

In the same way your sleep affects your daytime posture, your daytime posture affects your sleeping habits. A simple way to check your posture is to place your back straight against a wall. Your shoulder blades and the back of your head should touch the wall. If this feels unnatural, you may want to start being more conscious of your posture. Try to stand in that same position without the wall. Get used to standing, sitting and walking with your head high and your shoulders back. Using sleeping positions for good posture isn’t helpful if you revert to poor posture when you wake up.

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*“Sleeping Posture,” UCLA Ergonomics, accessed September 26, 2014, http://ergonomics.ucla.edu/component/content/article/92-back-safety/120-sleeping-posture.
**“Good Sleeping Posture Helps Your Back,” University of Rochester Medical Center, accessed September 26, 2014, http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=1&ContentID=4460.
***“Good Question: How Often Should Mattresses be Changed,” CBS Minnesota, accessed September 26, 2014, http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2013/08/05/good-question-how-often-should-mattresses-be-changed/.