Does Your Sleeping Position Affect Your Dreams?

4 Min Read | By Anna Ashbarry

Last Modified 15 September 2023   First Added 14 January 2020

This article was written and reviewed in line with our editorial policy.

Your sleeping position, your sleeping environment, what you wear to sleep – have you ever wondered if these factors affect your dreams at night? We look into studies to try to determine what impacts our dreams and what the best position to sleep in really is.

Does the side you sleep on affect your dreams?

In a self-reported study titled “Sleeping Position, Dream Emotions and Subjective Sleep Quality” published in 2004, researchers investigated the correlation between sleep quality and dream frequency in 63 subjects. When asking the subjects to jot down their sleeping positions, they found that 41 of the subjects slept on their right side and 22 on their left. The results of the study found that nightmares were more frequent for those who slept on their left side. For the subjects who slept on their right side, they reported dreams with the feeling of relief and safety. They also had better quality sleep than those who slept on their left.

In another study by Dr Calvin Kai-Ching Yu of Hong Shu Yan University, it was found that those who slept on their stomachs had vivid and positive dreams. It was concluded that personality wasn’t a factor when it came to dreaming, but the sleeping position was.

Related – Sleeping Positions Guide

What is the best sleeping position?

When determining the healthiest sleeping position, it is important to consider that it varies from person to person. Everyone is different and has different versions of optimum comfort. It is also important to consider what works best for you in terms of your health.

Sleeping on your back

Back sleeping is generally considered the best for posture. It can help prevent back pain and neck pain. Lying in your bed facing the ceiling can also ward off any acid reflux.

Sleeping on your front

Sleeping on your stomach is thought to ease snoring. However, your neck and spine are not in a neutral position when sleeping on your stomach which may cause nerve pain in the long run.

Sleeping on your side

Side sleeping is the most popular position and is often referred to as the lateral sleep position. Sleeping on your side can have its negatives though such as facial wrinkles and a restriction to the diaphragm, therefore, not being able to breathe deeply during sleep.

Read more: What Is The Best Sleeping Position & How Can A Mattress Affect It?

Image of man sleeping on back

What other factors can affect our dreams?

Your bedroom

The temperature of your room, how dark or light your room is and what noises you can hear throughout the night will all have impacts on your sleep quality. If there are distractions arising during sleep, you will most likely be entering a light sleep which can often impact what you are dreaming about.

Music and sound

As we can hear in our sleep, music and sounds can have an impact on our dreams. Sometimes dreams may include the sound of an alarm which wakes you up rather suddenly. Once you wake, you discover that your alarm is, in fact, going off and you first heard it in your dream.

Your nightwear

As temperature affects the way your brain works, what you wear to sleep in could affect your dreams. If you have had a series of bad dreams night after night, it could simply mean you were a bit too warm.

What causes dreaming?

Brain scientists aren’t yet too sure why humans have dreams, but they do think it has something to do with our memories. Dreaming is natural and everybody does it. Most people dream multiple times throughout the night, but many can’t remember having any dreams at all. Many things can cause vivid dreaming such as alcohol consumption, sleep deprivation and sleep disorders.

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