Best Sleep Positions for Overall Better Health

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Do you ever wonder if the way you sleep is damaging your health, aging your face faster, or causing unnecessary pain? I used to toss and turn all night, constantly waking up with back and neck aches. As I approached my 50s, I also noticed my face looked lopsided with more wrinkles on one side.

So I went on a mission to improve my sleep. And it completely changed my health and appearance for the better.

Listen to episode 1011 of The Chalene Show to hear all about the experiments and pillow tricks I tried to finally get restful sleep. Or watch on YouTube here.


Now, let’s talk about how to sleep for better health.

The Problem with Sleep Position Categories

About a year ago, the Mayo Clinic announced the best sleep position is on your side. But when you dig deeper, it gets more complicated than that. I think this is why we get confused by different messages on social media.

There aren’t just three sleep positions – side, back and stomach. There are endless variations that impact your health differently. The details matter: how you place your head, arms, legs, whether you switch sides, use pillows, and more.

For example, I’ve slept on my right side for decades, scrunching my face into the pillow. No wonder the right side of my face aged faster with more wrinkles and sagging!

Chalene Johnson sleep position quote - age, health, adhd

How I Improved My Facial Symmetry

As I noticed my lopsided face, I tried to learn to sleep on my back. But it took months to figure out a pillow fortress that worked.

I use a small travel pillow under my neck turned sideways like a fortune cookie. This supports my head and muffles sound on both ears. Then I add pillows under each arm and a ramp of firm pillows behind me to sleep at an incline.

This alignment helped even out my face. Though after 50 years of side sleeping, my right eye is still a bit more hooded. The point is, give yourself grace if you can’t perfect a position overnight. Some improvement is still beneficial.

Chalene Johnson sleep position quote - pillows

Tips to Relieve Shoulder and Back Pain

Recently I experienced awful shoulder pain from months of travel without my special pillows. I was scrunching my left shoulder up, straining my neck and throwing my back out of whack.

My chiropractor said it’s common for side sleepers to develop shoulder issues.

  • To help the shoulder you sleep on, put a small pillow under your ribcage to create space.
  • If the top shoulder hurts, keep it aligned instead of pulling it forward.
  • For lower back pain try a pillow between your knees to take pressure off your spine. But you have to find the perfect pillow – firmness and size matters. Share in the comments if you have a miracle pillow for side sleeping!

Chalene Johnson sleep position quote - patience

How to Make Stomach Sleeping Healthier

Though not ideal for most, sometimes you have to sleep on your stomach. Avoid smashing your face by folding the pillow to only support your forehead and eye area.

Tip: if you wear lashes, protect them from getting crushed.

The Bottom Line on Sleep Positions

There isn’t one perfect way to sleep. Focus on quality rest versus forcing yourself into discomfort. If you want to transition positions, be creative with pillows and don’t stress if it’s not perfect. Even small improvements help.

Better health doesn’t come from extremes like breathing air and banning all carbs. Give yourself grace to find balance. What matters most is listening to your body, being patient and realizing some progress is still beneficial.

For more tips, check out my recent episodes on sleep and health:

  • Listen to episode 1011 where I dive deeper into the pros and cons of different sleep positions. Or, watch the video version on YouTube.
  • You can also hear how I improved my jawline and facial symmetry overnight. Watch on YouTube.
  • And don’t miss my advice on mouth taping on YouTube.

Let me know in the comments what else you’d like to hear about on the podcast or YouTube channel! I love connecting with you.


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