The Truth About the Freefaller Sleep Position and Your Health


Sleep is one of the most important processes that our body goes through, which is why we spend around a third of our lives sleeping.

But how we sleep varies wildly from person to person.

The position you lie in to go to sleep can have quite a significant impact (both positive and negative) on your health, and some people even think that it says something about your personality.

One of the less common is the freefaller sleep position, so if this is your preferred position, you can definitely think of yourself as standing out from the crowd.

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What is The Freefaller Sleep Position?

If you thought that there were only three sleep positions: side, front, and back, you would be underestimating the human race’s ability to get a bit creative.

In fact, there are six generally recognized sleep positions:[1]

  • Fetus – the most common sleep position used by around 41% of people. It involves lying on your side, curled up with your legs up to your chest in a similar position to a fetus in the womb.
  • Log – used about around 15% of people. This is also a side sleeping position, but with your arms and legs kept straight down.
  • The yearner – used by around 13% of people. Here you sleep on your side with your legs straight down but your arms stretched out in front of your face.
Illustration of 3 variations of the Best sleeping position for sleep apnea variations
  • The soldier – used by around 8% of people. With the soldier, you lie on your back with your arms pinned down by your sides and your legs straight.
Illustration of the soldier sleep position
  • The freefaller – used by around 7% of people. Also known as the prone position, this involves lying face down with your hands tucked under the pillow.
Illustration of the freefaller sleep position
  • The starfish – used by around 5% of people. This involves lying on your back with both arms up around your pillow.
Illustrating how sleeping in starfish position looks like

Your preferred sleep position can, of course, be affected by external factors such as your bed, whether or not you have a partner, or any health conditions, you may have.

With that being said, under normal conditions, your preferred sleep position is unlikely to change.

Only around 5% of people sleep in a different position every night.

Is the Freefaller Sleep Position Good for Your Health?

You have probably never given much thought to the effect your sleep position has on your health.

After all, it’s just about the way you feel comfortable, right?

That isn’t strictly true.

In fact, the position in which you go to sleep can have a big impact on your health.

It is also too easy to forget that our bodies are filled with a collection of organs, bodily material, and fluids, all of which can be affected by gravity and external pressure.

And how you sleep means that the gravity and external pressure can be focused on different internal organs.

When you sleep in the freefall sleep position, you sleep on your belly, and I would never suggest sleeping on your belly.

Some of the disadvantages of belly sleeping are:

  • You turn your head to the side, which creates a twist in the neck.
  • In most cases, people turn their head always to the same side, which creates a lot of tension on that side.
  • There is a curve in the lower back, which might result in lower back pain.  
  • You face is burried in the pillow, which might increase the severity of breathing problems, such as sleep apnea.
  • The system of waste removal from the brain is the least optimized.[2]
  • Could cause pressure on some nerves.

I guess that because of those cons, only 7% of the population sleep on their belly.

However, sleeping in the freefaller position also includes some health benefits.

Let’s take a look at the benefits of the freefaller position:

1) The freefaller position is can improve digestion

When you lie down in the freefaller position, your digestive system is stretched out.

This means that there are fewer kinks in which fluid or gas can become trapped, so it can make digestion easier and relieve bloating or trapped gas.[2]

With that being said, the freefaller sleep position isn’t optimal for people who suffer from acid reflux or GERD.

It isn’t the worst sleep position (that would be lying on your right-hand side), but it isn’t as good as lying on your left-hand side.

Again, this is because of the way that your organs are laid out inside your body and the effect that gravity can have on them.

When you lie on your left-hand side, gravity keeps the acid within your stomach, reducing the likelihood of experiencing acid reflux.[3]

However, when you lie on your right-hand side, gravity allows acid to pool around the opening to the esophagus, increasing the chances of some of it entering your throat.

An illustration of how gravity aids to reduce acid reflux severity in left side sleepers

Lying on your stomach or your back isn’t as good at ensuring acid stays in your stomach as lying on your left-hand side.

But it also doesn’t encourage as much acid to pool around the esophagus as lying on your right-hand side or your back.

2) The freefaller position is good for snoring or sleep apnea

If you happen to suffer from sleep apnea or you are a snorer, you will feel the greatest benefits of sleeping in the freefaller position.

Sleep apnea is when you stop breathing periodically throughout the night, and the most common type is obstructive sleep apnea.

This is when your airways close, preventing you from being able to breathe.

2 men lying down on a bed. One has sleep apnea and the other doesn't have. Showing the difference in air flow between the two men.

If you sleep on your back, your chances of experiencing a sleep apnea episode are much higher because gravity is also pushing the airway closed and forcing your tongue towards the back of your throat.

However, if you sleep on your front, it helps to keep your airways open and may reduce the chance of you experiencing a sleep apnea episode during the night.

Sleeping on your side in the log or yearner position might also reduce your chance of having a sleep apnea episode.

But if you prefer to sleep on your front, then you will experience all the same benefits.

3) The freefaller position is good for respiratory problems

In a medical environment, a technique that can be very useful for patients in respiratory distress is known as “pruning.”

This involves turning a patient from their side onto their front to help them breathe.

When you are lying on your back, gravity can pull your lungs into a more closed position, worsening breathing problems.

Moving to your front can help to keep your lungs fully open.

Using pruning with Covid-19 patients has been shown to reduce the need for intubation or ventilation.[4]

It can also help improve outcomes in patients who are on ventilation.

How to Minimize the side Effects of Belly Sleeping

If you want to enjoy the health benefits of the freefall sleeping position, you have to make some adjustments to reduce the severity of the side effects.

What do you do if you are a stomach sleeper?

  • Use a very thin pillow to avoid curling your neck.
  • During the night, alternate the side of the face you are sleeping on to avoid neck stiffness, or even beter, put your forehead on a flat pillow so you don’t need to turn your head to any side.
  • Don’t place your hand below your head or below the pillow to avoid numbness or shoulder pain.
  • Put a pillow under your pelvis to prevent an excessive extension in the spine.
  • Do NOT place one of your legs to the side with a banded knee. Both legs should be flat and equals.

What does Sleeping on Your Stomach Say About Your Personality?

We’ve all taken those personality quizzes in the back of a magazine or on some time-wasting website, and most of the time, they really are just made up for fun.

You’d be forgiven for thinking the same thing about the link between your sleep position and your personality.

While there isn’t a huge amount of evidence to rely on, one study looked at 1,000 people, analyzed their personality and sleep positions, and found a pattern.[5]

They found that the freefaller sleep position was linked with a particular personality type.

Freefallers tend to be brash, gregarious, and outgoing.

But at the same time, they can live on their nerves and be quite thin-skinned.

They don’t tend to take criticism kindly, and they don’t do well in extreme situations.

So if you use to sleep in the freefall sleep position – shame on you!

Just kidding.

We don’t know the reasons why your sleep position could be linked to your personality or if one causes the other.

But the researchers suggested that it could be a similar situation as we find with our awake personalities.

Our body language when we are conscious can be a reflection of our personality type and mood, and the same may well be true of our body language while we are asleep.

Because we don’t know why there is a link between your sleep position and your personality, there is no good evidence that changing your sleep position will change anything about who you are as a person.

Why Getting a Good Night’s Sleep is So Important?

Not getting enough sleep or poor quality sleep that involves frequently waking throughout the night can have a dramatic impact on your health.

Most people need between 7 and 9 hours sleep a night, and if you regularly get less than this, it can leave you more at risk of serious health conditions, including:

  • cancer
  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • obesity
  • anxiety and depression

Not getting enough sleep can even lower your life expectancy.

It can also reduce the functioning of your immune system and lower your sex drive and fertility.

So the most important thing you should strive for when it comes to sleep is simply getting enough of it.

Finding a comfortable position to sleep in for you can help.

Additional techniques to improve your sleep quality are:

  • Don’t use screens within 2 hours of bedtime. If you have to use screens, wear a blue light blocking glasses.
  • Don’t take part in heavy exercising before bed.
  • Avoid eating a big meal before bed.
  • Stop drinking coffee for 10 hours before bedtime.
  • Make sure your bedroom isn’t too hot or too cold.
  • Reduce the amount of light and noise in your bedroom.
  • Use meditation or mindfulness to relax before bed.
  • Have a regular sleep schedule where you wake up and go to bed at a similar time every day.

Final thoughts

The freefaller sleep position is one of the most unusual ways to go to sleep, but that doesn’t mean that it’s without its benefits.

It can help aid digestion and reduce trapped gas, and it can also help lower your risk of sleep apnea.

However, it might increase your chances of experiencing back pain.

Placing a pillow underneath your abdomen can help to control this.

If you sleep in the freefaller position, you are probably an outgoing person who also has a bit of a think skin when taking criticism.

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