One essential element of our overall health and well-being is getting a good night’s rest. Our bodies rely on sleep to maintain physical energy, repair all tissues, and mental clarity. However, did you know that the position in which you sleep can significantly affect how well you sleep during the night and cause neck and back pain?
Below, we’ve created a guide for maintaining proper spinal alignment while sleeping to help you modify your current sleeping positions for optimal spinal health.
Our Guide to Having Proper Spinal Alignment While Sleeping
The three major factors to consider for proper spinal alignment while sleeping are your sleeping position, mattress, and pillow placement. The following are recommendations for each to help you find a solution that works for you.
- Sleeping on your back: When sleeping on your back, your weight is evenly distributed throughout your body, preventing unnatural spine curvature. It also allows your spine to rest from all the bending it does during the day. While on your back, you should ensure that your pillow supports your head and neck to help maintain proper spinal alignment. You should also place a pillow under your knees to support the curve in your lower back and reduce stress on your spine.
- Sleeping on your side: Sleeping on your side is an excellent alternative to sleeping on your back, especially if you snore or have sleep apnea. The best way to protect your spinal alignment while on your side is to keep your hips in line by placing a firm pillow between your knees and another pillow under your head and neck to keep the hips and pelvis in line with the back and neck.
- Sleeping on your stomach: When sleeping on your stomach, it can be helpful to place a flat pillow under the stomach and pelvis area to help keep the spine aligned. If sleeping on your stomach, your head pillow should be flatter than those you’d use when laying on your side or back, or, if your head is facing down, you can place a firm pillow under your forehead to provide some breathing room.
No matter which position you choose to sleep in, it’s best to try to keep your body in a neutral position that avoids excessive twisting and uneven weight distribution, such as sleeping with one leg higher than the other.
If you’re sleeping in a position that should adequately support your spinal alignment but you still don’t feel like you’re getting the support you need, it might be time to consider a new mattress. Even though everyone has their own preference, an excellent rule of thumb is to choose a mattress with medium firmness. Finding the right balance between a medium mattress and an extra firm depends on your weight, usual sleeping position, and back pain (if you experience any). No matter the mattress you choose, you should aim for one that’s comfortable and that supports your spine’s natural curvature. You should also consider replacing your mattress every 6 to 8 years.
Pillow placement is crucial to helping ensure proper spine alignment while sleeping. It’s important not to place the head pillow too high, or you risk straining your neck, back, and shoulders. Your pillow also must be soft enough or firm enough to support your spine’s natural curvature. When positioning the pillow under your head, it should support your head and neck but not your shoulders. Resting your shoulders on your pillow will lift your entire upper body, leave your head and neck more prone to unnatural curvature, and put more tension on your neck and back muscles.
While it’s always important to focus on lying in a position that maintains your proper spinal alignment while sleeping, if you’re experiencing pain upon waking, you should take that as your cue to reach out for help to fix the problem. Visiting a chiropractor is a great first step to helping you determine where exactly you’re experiencing pain and if your sleeping posture is contributing to it.
At PostureWorks, we use Chiropractic BioPhysics® to help address improper spinal alignment and teach you how to improve your sleeping habits to support your spinal health so you can wake up each day pain-free.
Chiropractic BioPhysics®, or CBP, is a deeply researched and results-oriented corrective care technique. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine back to health and optimal function while eliminating the source of pain and circulatory and nervous dysfunction. As with all chiropractic care, CBP is conservative, painless, and non-invasive. For more recommendations for maintaining proper spinal alignment while sleeping, or to schedule your appointment with PostureWorks, contact us today.