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What position should I sleep in?
November 3, 2013
Correcting your sleep position alone can make a huge difference to your spinal health. If you wake with a sore or tight neck or back, or a headache then read on. This is an alarm bell that says that your sleeping position needs urgent consideration.
It is one point that I will nag my patients the most about because it has the potential to re-aggravate their problems. Finding a correct sleeping position is really just about finding a position in which your body is as close to being in a neutral posture. This means that you should not be curled up, twisted or tilted.
Sleeping on your side or your back are the recommended positions. Stomach sleeping should be avoided. Stomach sleeping places high amounts of rotational stress on the vertebrae and supporting soft tissues of the neck. It also causes your low back to arch excessively.
Side sleeping is great for a number of reasons. It gives you the opportunity to alternate sides. It’s also great if you are a snorer. Your pillow is vital here, and it should be the correct height to have your neck in line with the rest of your spine. In other words, if it is too low your head and neck will drop down too far, and if it is too high, it will tilt your neck the other way. Your chin should also not be tucked in or over extended. Again, just think neutral positioning.
Pillow recommendation is also important. A good quality contour pillow is often the best way to achieve this neural healthy neck position. A good tip is to have someone look at your neck position carefully when you are lying in bed to make sure that you are neutral. It is very likely that whatever position you are used to will feel right to you, so have your partner of friend confirm if you are in fact neutral.
In terms of the rest of your body, your legs should be straight out or only slightly bent. No foetal positions or scissoring with your legs. Many people are much more comfortable with a small pillow between their knees.
Back sleeping is OK also. You just need a much thinner pillow and it often helps to have a pillow under your knees to take some stress off your low back.
Take some time to examine your sleeping position and consider that you spend about one third of your life in this position. If you are a stomach sleeper, you need persistence and discipline to change. I know first hand. And I also know what a difference it will make to you.