I do not know the correct English term for the position, so I will just refer it to as "chest-side down". The following CNN page seem to call it the "stomach position", and they say it is the worst position to sleep.

They have listed the shortcomings of that position, but there is no detailed explanation. I do not feel any pain when I sleep chest-side down other than pain on my neck, but this is only because I have to turn my face to one side, and this can be fixed if I buy a special pillow (something used at a massage shop).

Is it really true that it causes back pain? We are mammals and almost all mammals live and sleep chest-side down. Dogs, for example, seem to love to rest their chest and head laid down on the floor. Do we have some special spines that need to be rested chest-side up, unlike other mammals?

And secondly, how does it cause more wrinkles than sleeping chest-side up?

Source: http://edition.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/04/19/healthiest.sleep.position/

Bad for: Avoiding neck and back pain, minimizing wrinkles

The scoop: "Stomach-sleeping makes it difficult to maintain a neutral position with your spine," Shannon explains. What's more, the pose puts pressure on joints and muscles, which can irritate nerves and lead to pain, numbness, and tingling.

  • I think the word you are looking for for "chest side down" is "prone", and the word for "chest side up" is "supine." A good discussion of the two words is here: dailywritingtips.com/prone-vs-supine – whitebeard Jul 18 '15 at 10:32
  • I don't know about any possible harm, but humans do have special spines. Almost all mammals have spines adapted for horizontal posture, where humans have spines (sort of) adapted for a vertical posture. – Mark Jan 8 '16 at 5:09

I am a massage therapist, and I do recommend the cushion systems for stomach sleepers, which allows the head to remain straight and the spine aligned during sleep. Also, from the point of view of a yoga practitioner, I would suggest that sleeping on the stomach will put more pressure on the abdomen and chest during sleep, making the organs and lungs work harder during what should be a parasympathetic cycle. The body cushion systems will also alleviate this too.

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    Hi. Welcome to Health SE. Your answer is very interesting. Could you back up your claims with references (in accordance with the site policies: meta.health.stackexchange.com/questions/1/…)? Thank you. Best regards. M. Arrowsmith – M. Arrowsmith Sep 27 '16 at 10:11
  • Here is some research which suggests (but is not definitive) supine sleeping is better than prone. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22420172 ->nocturnal breathing improves as a continuum from the S to the P position. – LoggedIn Dec 31 '16 at 9:52
  • ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23561328 The postural change from supine to lateral decubitus or prone with head turn position increased the IOP [IntraOccular Pressure] of the dependent eyes (Although it does not alter the Occular Profusion Pressure) – LoggedIn Dec 31 '16 at 9:52
  • ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25555606 We concluded that one having an unilateral obstructive nasal septal deviation in addition to a habit of sleeping in prone position must be alert for potential TMD. – LoggedIn Dec 31 '16 at 9:53
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    @LoggedIn - Comments are subject to deletion. Please edit your answer to include that information. – JohnP Mar 28 '17 at 20:36

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