Get Spine-Friendly Zzz’s!
There’s no shortage of advice out there on sleep hygiene – habits that we can adopt to get better, more restful sleep. We’ve all heard about the benefits turning off sources of blue light an hour before bed and avoiding caffeine and exercise at night, but how does our sleeping position affect our body and the quality of rest we get?
Neck or Upper Back Pain? Avoid the Fetal Position
Even though the fetal position – pulling your knees up to your chest and scrunching your neck down – feels safe, it’s not the best for your body. Tucking your chin and curling up your upper body puts strain on your neck, upper back and shoulders. It also restricts circulation and prevents healthy, diaphragmatic breathing. Straightening out – or better yet, switching to sleeping on your back – helps avoid overstretching your back and neck.
However, a semi-fetal position can actually be quite helpful for disc herniation sufferers, provided they avoid scrunching their head and shoulders forward. This is because bringing your knees up reduces lateral bending of the spine and takes pressure off the back of the disks and facet joints.
Avoid Stomach Sleeping
Sleeping on your stomach with your head turned to one side puts stress on your neck, back and pelvis. Think about it: if you spent 8 hours with your head cranked to the side during the day, you’d end up with a pretty sore and stiff neck. You’re putting the same stress on your neck every night if you’re sleeping on your stomach.
If you absolutely have to lay face-down to doze off, make sure you’re using a thin pillow under your head and put a pillow under the upper portion of your pelvis (right below the belly button) to help support your lower back and pelvic alignment.
Shoulder Problems? Stay Away From ‘Starfish’ Position
Sleeping in starfish position – on your back with your arms above your head – tends to put pressure on the nerves, muscles and ligaments in the shoulders. Even if it feels good, keep your arms down!
The ‘Ideal’ Sleeping Position?
For almost everyone, sleeping on the back with your knees supported is the best position for a healthy spine. Back sleeping evenly distributes weight the full length of the body, minimizes pressure points and ensures good alignment of the head, neck, and spine. Propping your knees up with a pillow gives additional support to your pelvis and helps maintain the natural curve of the spine.
Besides minimizing strain on your back and neck, studies have also shown that sleeping on your back can help reduce gastric reflux and prevent ‘sleep wrinkles’ caused by the constant pressure put on your face by your pillow.
Know someone with back pain or neck pain that won’t go away, no matter how much they change their sleeping position? At Ascent Chiropractic we correct problems in the spine using a gentle, low-force adjusting technique that’s both safe and effective for patients of all ages ranging from children to seniors.
Need a chiropractor? If you’re in the Brookfield, Wauwatosa or New Berlin areas and suffering with back or neck pain, we’d love to help. To make an appointment at Ascent Chiropractic, call 262-345-4166 or schedule an appointment with our online scheduling app.