Why We Sleep

Sleeping Position: Starfish

Sleeping Position: Starfish

How we sleep can significantly impact our physical and mental wellbeing. One of the sleeping positions that has become increasingly popular in recent years is known as the "starfish" position. This sleeping position is unique compared to other common sleeping postures such as sleeping on the stomach, side, or in a fetal position. It involves lying on the back with limbs stretched out, resembling the shape of a starfish.  Lets delve into the starfish sleeping position, discussing its benefits and drawbacks, and exploring the reasons why some people prefer it over other sleeping postures.

Benefits of the starfish sleeping position

The starfish sleeping position has several benefits, making it a popular choice among those who prefer to sleep on their backs.

  • Reduced snoring and sleep apnea: Sleeping on the back can sometimes result in snoring and sleep apnea, which can disrupt sleep quality. However, the starfish position can alleviate these issues by keeping the airways open and reducing pressure on the throat and chest.
  • Reduced acid reflux: Sleeping on the back can also prevent stomach acid from flowing back up into the esophagus, reducing the risk of acid reflux. This is particularly beneficial for those who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
  • Reduced wrinkles and skin irritation: Sleeping on the back can prevent wrinkles and skin irritation that can occur from pressing the face into a pillow. The starfish position can also reduce pressure on certain parts of the body, reducing the risk of bedsores.

Drawbacks of the starfish sleeping position

1. Increased risk of shoulder pain

One of the biggest drawbacks of the starfish position is that it can put pressure on the shoulders, particularly if the arms are extended above the head. This can lead to discomfort and even pain, particularly for people who have pre-existing shoulder issues.

If you find that the starfish position is causing shoulder pain, there are a few things you can try. One is to use a pillow to support your arms and take some of the pressure off your shoulders. You can also try sleeping with your arms at your sides instead of extended above your head.

2. Difficulty finding a comfortable mattress and pillow

Finding a comfortable mattress and pillow can be a challenge when sleeping on your back. This is especially true for the starfish position, as it requires support for the entire body rather than just one or two areas.

When looking for a mattress and pillow, look for ones that provide ample support for your neck and spine. Memory foam mattresses and pillows can be particularly effective at conforming to your body and providing the necessary support.

3. May exacerbate sleep disorders in some people

While the starfish position can be beneficial for reducing snoring and sleep apnea, it may exacerbate these issues in some people. For example, if you suffer from severe sleep apnea, sleeping on your back can cause your airway to collapse, leading to more frequent apnea events.

If you have a sleep disorder and are unsure if the starfish position is right for you, talk to your doctor or a sleep specialist. They can help you determine the best sleeping posture for your individual needs.

How to make the starfish sleeping position work for you

  1. Choose the right mattress: Since the starfish sleeping position requires a lot of space, it is crucial to have a mattress that is large enough to accommodate your entire body. Opt for a firm mattress that provides adequate support for your back and keeps your spine aligned while you sleep.
  2. Use a supportive pillow: The right pillow can help alleviate any discomfort in your neck or shoulders. Choose a pillow that provides enough support for your head and neck while keeping your spine aligned. Memory foam pillows are a great option since they conform to the shape of your head and neck.
  3. Stretch before bed: To reduce the risk of shoulder pain, take a few minutes to stretch your shoulders and arms before going to bed. This can help loosen any tight muscles and increase blood flow to the area.
  4. Avoid sleeping on your stomach: Sleeping on your stomach can cause your neck to twist unnaturally, which can lead to neck and shoulder pain. Instead, try to sleep on your back or side.
  5. Consider a sleep positioner: If you find it challenging to maintain the starfish sleeping position throughout the night, consider using a sleep positioner. These devices help keep you in the desired sleeping position and can prevent you from rolling onto your stomach or side.

By following these tips, you can make the starfish sleeping position work for you and enjoy its numerous benefits while minimizing any drawbacks. Remember, finding the right sleeping position is a personal journey, and it may take some time to find what works best for you. Don't be afraid to experiment and try new things until you find the perfect sleeping position for your body.

How to modify the position to fit your needs

If you find that the traditional starfish position is causing discomfort or pain, there are several modifications you can make to customize the position to your needs. For example, you can try sleeping with your legs slightly elevated to reduce pressure on your lower back.

You can also experiment with different arm positions to find the one that is most comfortable for you. For example, you can try sleeping with your arms at your sides or with one arm extended above your head and the other at your side.


The starfish sleeping position is a unique sleeping posture that offers several benefits, including reduced snoring, acid reflux, and skin irritation. However, it also comes with some drawbacks, such as an increased risk of shoulder pain and difficulty finding a comfortable mattress and pillow. Despite these drawbacks, it is possible to make the starfish sleeping position work for you by following some simple tips, such as choosing the right mattress and pillow and modifying the position to fit your needs. Ultimately, the choice of sleeping position is a personal one, and it is essential to find what works best for your body to ensure a good night's sleep and optimal health and wellbeing.

Great! You’ve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to Why We Sleep.

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.