Another common patient question I receive is “ How should I sleep?” Yet I rarely get asked “I have trouble getting to sleep, so what is the best sleeping position for me?”
There are only two ways to sleep that really allow the spinal muscle to relax. When your spinal muscles relax, your body can switch off and enjoy good, rejuvenating sleep.
Sleeping on your stomach, may not be causing you a problem now, but I can 100% guarantee that you will develop some spinal pain in your neck or back
as you get older. It’s imperative that you break the habit as soon as possible.
And yes, I have heard all the excuses; “I love the warmth of the bed on my chest”, “I love being cocooned in bed”, “I love being snuggled up in a ball”, but it’s exactly like sitting at your desk with your head turned sideways for hours on end. You wouldn’t willingly do that, would you? Consider that visual analogy, the next time you are tempted to lie on your stomach.
Lying on your side, correctly supported, is the best way of allowing your spinal muscles to fully relax and set up a comfortable sleeping position
The most important thing is that your neck and shoulders are held in a neutral position and that your spine is in a straight line.
The best way to test this with your present pillow: lie on your side and fold your arms across your chest. Your pillow should feel as if it is supporting your head with little or no pressure on your shoulder. One of the common questions that my patents often ask: “Why do I wake up every morning with back pain?” Could it be your sleeping position?
Usually, everyone blames their bed, but I would estimate that 40% to 60% of problems arise from how they position their bodies, and what they’re doing with their legs.
The majority of us, and I’ve been trying to find a satisfactory answer for years, sleep with our legs bent – especially our top leg bent over our lower leg which is stretched out. Your sleeping position matters a great deal.
This, in turn, rotates the pelvis, (the Sacroiliac Joint), forward on one side, causing strain on our lower lumbar joints.
Simply break the habit. Learn to sleep with the leg that is bent, stretched straight. This way, your pelvis cannot rotate forward and all the joints in the lower back remain in a neutral position. Combined with a good pillow and a mattress that properly supports you, morning backache should become a thing of the past.
Sleeping On Your Back
Most people shy away from sleeping on their back as they feel too open and vulnerable. But as long as you follow these simple rules, it can work for you:
- Sleep with a pillow that suits and supports your neck.
- Don’t sleep with your hands behind your head. This causes Trapezius muscle (one of the largest neck muscles) tension.
- Keep your legs straight so that you do not twist your hips. Some people find that a small pillow placed under their knees often helps reduce pressure on their lower back