According to a sleep survey conducted in 2012, 74 percent of people sleep on their sides, 10 percent on their backs, and 16 percent on their stomachs. In more recent years, side sleeping has still come out on top as the most popular sleeping position, but stomach sleeping always falls near the bottom. It’s not only one of the more unpopular positions, but it’s also one of the least healthy if you sleep on an unsupportive mattress.
Stomach sleeping puts you at risk for musculoskeletal issues, such as back, shoulder, and hip pain. It can also cause you to wake up with a stiff jaw and numb joints. Because most of our weight is concentrated in our midsections, gravity presses down on this area when sleeping face-down. If the mattress you’re sleeping on is too soft or too firm, your spine will either bow up or downward in this sleeping position. A healthy spine should stay in a level, neutral shape during sleep.
Amerisleep Mattresses for Stomach Sleepers
Stomach sleepers, like other sleeping positions, are best suited for mattresses with a specific firmness level that promotes spinal alignment. To avoid the risks associated with stomach sleeping, customers should choose a firm or medium-firm mattress as well as a low-loft pillow to ensure their spine and neck stay flat. We recommend the Amerisleep AS1 or AS2 especially for stomach sleepers.
The AS1 is Amerisleep’s firmest bed. Standing at 10 inches tall, this mattress incorporates 2 inches of eco-friendly Bio-Pur® for just a hint of cushioning and 8 inches of the sturdy Bio-Core® support layer. These two layers of foam combine to create the most supportive mattress for stomach sleepers.
All Amerisleep mattresses are covered with a soft and breathable cover. This cover, along with the partially plant-based Bio-Pur®, ensures the sleeper will not overheat like they might on other memory foam mattresses.
The Bio-Core® layer allows Amerisleep to offer a 20-year warranty with this and all their mattresses; in the AS1, the Bio-Core® keeps stomach sleepers “on top” of the mattress instead of stuck inside it. In other words, there is no risk of spinal misalignment or back pain if stomach sleepers choose the AS1.
The Amerisleep AS2 is the perfect medium-firm model for stomach sleepers who need slightly more cushioning without losing out on any needed support. Business Insider called the AS2 the “Best Mattress for Back Pain,” so stomach sleepers can rest assured their back and shoulders will be adequately supported on this mattress.
Like all Amerisleep mattresses, the AS2 features a stretchy, lightweight cover that encourages airflow. Beneath this cover sits the advanced open-cell Bio-Pur® layer, which is 10 times more responsive than traditional memory foam. Stomach sleepers need a mattress with a fast response time and pressure-relief, which the Bio-Pur® provides.
The second layer of the AS2 is the Affinity transition layer with HIVE®. This layer has hexagonal-shaped cutouts concentrated more tightly in areas where you need more support (such as your head, shoulders, back, feet, and hips) and spaced farther apart where you need more cushioning. The Affinity layer is the perfect buffer between the Bio-Pur® and the firmer Bio-Core®.
The third layer of the AS2 is the high-density Bio-Core®, made to support the upper, softer layers and deter sag for as long as you use the mattress.
Amerisleep offers a 100-night sleep trial and a 20-year warranty with each of their beds. We also offer free shipping and free returns to the lower 48 states.
Special Considerations for Stomach Sleepers
Most of us use our mattresses well beyond when we should; they develop sags, we start to feel stuck in bed, and it’s an uncomfortable ordeal getting to sleep every night. Why do we put off getting a new bed for so long? Well, a new mattress is an expensive investment, especially if it ends up not working out and you have to send it back, leading to lots of wasted time and energy.
The problem with putting off a new mattress purchase is that our bodies get used to being uncomfortable after a while; we may not even notice at first, but an unsupportive bed can temporarily alter our sleeping position and throw off our posture. Stomach sleepers need to be vigilant about mattress support since their preferred sleeping position puts them at the greatest risk for misalignment.
Mattress support refers to how well a mattress reinforces your spine while you’re laying down. No matter how firm or soft a mattress is, if you’ve chosen a mattress compatible with your sleeping position, it should be supportive. The support layer, or bottom layer, of every mattress, is typically constructed with high-density memory foam, thick coils, or firm latex foam to support the softer layers on top.
The support layer must be supportive enough to prevent sagging and motion transfer; if it’s weak, it will make the user feel trapped or stuck on their mattress. This is how the materials above the core support layer play a part— they must be responsive and cushioned enough to keep the user “lifted” without forcing the spine into a “U” shape.
Mattresses come in various firmness options and types, and the one you choose can either improve or diminish your sleep quality.
Most companies market their firm or medium-firm mattresses for stomach sleepers because those models have thinner, fewer comfort layers, making the mattress more supportive than cushioned. The idea that stomach sleepers should sleep on a firm mattress is not just a recommendation— it is an absolute requirement for certain age groups, like infants.
A study in 2015 conducted a review of patients who experienced “sudden death in epilepsy.” They found that 73% of these patients 40 years or younger slept on their stomachs, while only 26.7% slept on their sides or back. They concluded that sleeping on the stomach is a risk factor for sudden death in epilepsy and that these deaths were similar to infant deaths caused by SIDS.
The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends infants ages 0-12 months sleep on a firm, flat surface with no cushions, blankets, or other materials that could cause them to suffocate. Even when we are older and at less risk for suffocation, stomach sleeping still presents a risk of back pain, shoulder pain, and even jaw pain. A firm mattress and a thin pillow help stomach sleepers avoid any of these problems.
Responsiveness refers to how quickly a mattress bounces back to its original shape after pressure is applied and then removed. Typically, responsiveness is only measured by how the top layers react since most of us never come in contact with the bottom, stiff layer.
The responsiveness of the top layers depends on the mattress type. Note that a responsive mattress is bouncier and does not conform closely to the body— a bouncy mattress can be a pro or a con for a stomach sleeper. If their hips tend to sink down while they’re sleeping, the pushback response can prevent misalignment. On the other hand, lighter, more petite people may feel the mattress is too supportive and firm, increasing or causing back pain.
Least Responsive to Most Responsive Mattress Types
- Memory Foam
Type of Mattress
You probably know by now how much mattress type can affect your sleep quality, no matter your preferred sleep position. Stomach sleepers should choose a mattress that’s cooling, pressure-relieving, and supportive.
Memory Foam Mattresses
Memory foam is excellent at relieving pressure, conforming closely to the body, and adjusting to your sleeping position. It also isolates motion better than any other mattress type besides latex, making it a good choice for couples. Bed in a box brands tend to gravitate toward memory foam because it’s easy to compress and fold into a box.
Memory foam mattresses typically have a very soft, responsive feel. Stomach sleepers should choose a memory foam bed labeled as firm or medium-firm; this means the soft comfort layers on top will be relatively thin. Users will feel some cushioning, but not so much that their backs will bend unnaturally.
One reason people shy away from memory foam is that it traps heat, leading to potential sleep disruptions. To avoid this, look for mattresses made with gel memory foam, advanced open-cell foam, or other cooling infusions such as copper, charcoal, or graphite. Stomach sleepers who choose a medium-firm or firm memory foam mattress aren’t likely to run into this problem since the comfort layers of firmer beds are thin and less likely to trap heat against the body.
Latex mattresses feel similar to memory foam, but their material comes from a completely different source and so users might notice a slight difference. Natural latex is extracted from the sap of rubber trees and then manufactured using either the Talalay or Dunlop method. Some mattresses market one of these two latex types as being better than the other, but both are incredibly durable. The main difference is the feel.
One reason customers gravitate towards latex is that it’s very eco-friendly. The rubber trees latex is extracted from can be harvested for up to 20 years. To create Dunlop latex, the bubbly sap is combined with water instead of the chemicals often used to create memory foam. On top of having a low environmental impact, latex mattresses have been known to last 10-15 years, making them the most durable mattress type.
Talalay latex is softer than Dunlop latex because after the milky sap is extracted from the rubber tree, it’s frozen to make it expand, giving it a more airy, breathable texture. Then other chemicals are added to it, such as polyurethane and other synthetic fillers, to give it its “memory foam” like texture and feel. Therefore, all-natural latex beds can only be made using Dunlop latex. If an all-natural bed is a priority for you, you’ll want to keep this in mind.
Stomach sleepers will probably enjoy latex mattresses with a firm or medium-firm feel. Latex is also slightly more bouncy and firm than memory foam, which may appeal to some stomach sleepers.
Innerspring beds have been around since the 1800s and they’re still easy to find in virtually any mattress store. Memory foam may someday overtake innerspring in popularity, but as of today, innersprings still make up for ⅓ of mattress sales.
Despite their ubiquity, innersprings are not known for being long-lasting or comfortable. The basic innerspring mattress contains a steel coil support layer (300-400 coils on average) and then a pillow top or Euro top cushion which acts as a comfort layer. Euro top layers are usually made of higher-quality materials, but both a pillow top and Euro top feel plush.
Innersprings can be made with a few different coil systems. The most popular and least expensive type is the Bonnell coil. Bonnell coils are shaped like an hourglass, which responds very well to pressure— almost too well, in fact. Mattresses made using this coil type tend to sag after only 3-5 years.
Continuous coils are linked together with one long wire, called a helical. This coil type lasts longer than Bonnells and it isolates motion better. Finally, there’s wrapped, or Marshall coils. These are individually wrapped in fabric to better isolate motion; because they require more materials, they usually make the cost of a mattress go up.
We recommend stomach sleepers avoid innersprings for the most part since they do not have great motion isolation or pressure relief. They do feel firmer than memory foam or latex beds, but they are too bouncy to provide the support stomach sleepers need.
Stomach sleepers looking for the feel of an innerspring but the pressure relief of memory foam may find their match in a hybrid mattress. Hybrids are 50% foam, 50% coils; the coils in hybrids are most often wrapped, and combined with the memory or latex foam in the top layers, a hybrid offers much more pressure relief and motion isolation than an innerspring.
Hybrids must contain at least 3 inches of foam to be considered true hybrids. The foam is usually memory foam to provide additional contouring and cushion pressure points, while the springs give the bed a faster response time than the typical memory foam mattress.
A hybrid may be the perfect fit for a stomach sleeper who needs a firmer, bouncier mattress. However, because hybrids contain coil support systems, they are still more likely to sag than a memory foam mattress. The average lifespan of hybrids is 6-7 years compared to memory foam’s 7-8 year lifespan.
Best Mattress Type per Sleeping Position
|Sleeping Position||Best Mattress Firmness||Recommended Mattress Type||Notes|
|Stomach Sleeping||Firm or medium-firm||Memory foam, latex, or hybrid||Stomach sleepers are at the greatest risk for spinal misalignment; their mattress should maintain an even surface and steady support.|
|Side Sleeping||Medium, medium-soft, or soft||Memory foam, latex||The best mattresses for side sleepers will offer a good balance of cushioning and support to prevent against pressure points.|
|Back Sleeping||Firm or medium-firm||Innerspring, hybrid, memory foam, or latex||Back sleepers lie flat on their backs, so they need a mattress with lots of support.|
|Combination Sleeping||Medium or medium-soft||Innerspring, hybrid, memory foam, or latex||Combination sleepers have the most options of any sleeper type, but most are comfortable on a medium or medium-soft bed with an even amount of support and contouring.|
A mattress should hold up for at least 7-10 years. In fact, the average warranty of a high-quality mattress is 10 years which should cover sagging, rips in the foam or fabric, broken zippers, and other manufacturing defects. As long as you maintain it, your new bed shouldn’t start developing sags unless it’s made with low-quality materials.
Stomach sleepers need to be especially wary of low-quality beds since sags in their mattress’ surface will probably lead to pain and possibly even injury. There are some simple ways you can tell a bed is high-quality before you even lie on it. Look at the materials in each layer and then read the warranty claims.
|Mattress Type||Red Flags|
|Innerspring||Low-gauge coils in the core support system (thin coils), too high or too low coil counts, poly-foam in the pillow-top layer|
|Hybrid||Low-gauge coils in the core support system (thin coils), too high or too low coil counts, poly-foam in the foam layers|
|Memory Foam||Blended memory foam (memory and poly-foam blends), inadequate support foams in the base|
|Latex Foam||Synthetic or blended latex foams instead of natural latex foams|
A standard warranty should be at least 10 years long and cover sagging. Almost all mattress warranties cover sagging of some depth, but some warranties only cover sags below 1 inch, like 1.5 inches— at that point, the bed is unusable and you’ve probably given up sleeping on it.
When you’re trying to set a mattress budget, start with the mattress type you want and go from there. Remember: you can easily find a cheap mattress, but just because it’s budget-friendly doesn’t mean it’s the right mattress!
For a basic high-quality queen size mattress, you can expect to pay anywhere from $500-$1200. Added features will usually inflate the cost, such as:
- Gel memory foam or other cooling foams
- Extra edge support (common in innerspring or hybrids)
- Proprietary foams (unique to the mattress brand)
- A longer than average warranty or sleep trial (such as a lifetime warranty or a year-long trial period)
- Eco-friendly materials, such as CertiPUR-US® certified foam, organic cotton or wool, or all-natural latex
Problems with Stomach Sleeping
Stomach sleepers’ number one priority while sleeping should be to keep their spines in a neutral position. If the spine curves down or up too far, lower back pain will shortly follow. If you turn your head side to side in the prone position, your neck could become sore and stiff. A softer mattress will cause the hips to sink down, curving the spine into an unwanted “U” shape. If stomach sleepers rest with their arms down at their sides, too much sinking can lead to paresthesia, or “pins and needles.”
To avoid these issues, stomach sleepers should sleep on a medium-firm or firm mattress with a good balance of pressure relief and support. For better overall health, we recommend stomach sleepers get in the habit of sleeping on their sides.
Training Yourself to Sleep Differently
Stomach sleeping doesn’t come widely recommended, and for good reason. Even on a firmer mattress, sleeping belly-down can cause lower back pain, pinched nerves, jaw pain, or cubital tunnel syndrome (numbness and tingling in the arms and hands).
Sleeping on the right side is the healthiest position all-around; it opens up your airways for easy breathing, keeps your spine in a neutral position, and it’s even good for your heart! To train yourself to sleep differently, you can start with a few easy tricks.
As previously mentioned, your main concern while sleeping should be spinal alignment and back support. If your pillow or mattress compromises either of these, you could be up all night tossing and turning in pain.
Some stomach sleepers don’t even use a pillow because a high or even mid-loft pillow can strain the neck upward; most stomach sleepers who use a pillow under their heads go for something very thin and firm.
To get used to sleeping on your side, place a thin pillow between your legs at the knees. You could even try a C-shaped body pillow, which provides cushioning under your head, between your knees, and at your ankles. Side-sleepers typically sleep with a medium-feel, mid-loft pillow under their heads. This keeps the neck from twisting or straining too far to one side.
Consider an Adjustable Base
An adjustable base allows you to lift your legs or back to a certain angle, minimizing the pressure on your lower back as well as promoting better circulation and breathing. Adjustable bases are perfect for anyone trying to minimize any sleep discomfort.
The Amerisleep Adjustable Bed comes with a capacitive touch remote and app controls you can set up easily on your phone. The Wallhugger™ technology lets you adjust the mattress without any risk of sliding down— what’s more, you can stay within arm’s reach of your nightstand no matter what angle you’re sitting at.
What kind of mattress is best for stomach sleepers?
We recommend a firm or medium-firm mattress with plenty of support and pressure-point relief. The best mattress type for stomach sleepers is memory foam, latex, and some hybrids.
How should stomach sleepers sleep?
To keep the spine aligned and avoid any sort of neck strain, stomach sleepers should sleep on a firm mattress with an even, supportive surface. Additionally, they should sleep on a firm or medium-firm low-loft pillow (less than 3 inches thick).
Can Stomach Sleepers Sleep Comfortably?
While stomach sleeping isn’t our first choice, those who are dedicated to the prone position can sleep comfortably as long as they choose a good mattress. Choose from firm or medium-firm options with little sinkage and always read mattress reviews— a customer’s experience is an invaluable tool to give you a clearer picture of the mattress quality!
This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.