Side Sleeper, Back Sleeper, Stomach Sleeper...Which Is Best?
Little aches and pains are often caused by sleeping in a strange position. Soon, as your eyes open you know it will be a long day thanks to the acute pain in your neck or back. Fortunately, with acute pain, an over the counter pain medication, some light stretching and a heating pad should have you back on your way in no time. But what about chronic aches and pains? Your sleeping position may have more to do with your chronic back or neck pain than you might think.
The position you sleep in could be putting more pressure on your neck or back, leading to chronic pain. Pain and discomfort can also keep you from sleeping which can start a horrible pattern of pain and sleeplessness. Adjusting your sleeping positions or adding pillows to your current go-to position can optimize spinal alignment and help ensure a better night's sleep. We spend a large chunk of our day sleeping, so we should make the most of that time with good body positioning and prepare for a great night's sleep.
Sleeping on your back allows for an equal distribution of your weight over your whole body and all joints. Placing a pillow under your knees will help keep the spine in its natural alignment and help prevent lower back pain. Side sleeping reduces the pressure on your back and joints. When sleeping on your side place a pillow between your knees to keep proper hip and spine alignment. Stomach sleepers beware, this is the worst position for back and neck pain and may be the cause of your chronic aches and pains. Sleeping on your stomach flattens the natural curve of the spine and forces the head to be one direction all night causing neck strain. Try transitioning to sleeping on your back or side and see if your old symptoms improve, but if you must sleep on your stomach try placing a pillow under the lower part of your abdomen to help the spine back into a more normal position.
The pillow and mattress you use plays a huge part in how well you sleep as well. Choose a pillow based on your sleeping position to maximize comfort and spinal alignment. A pillow too thick or thin will force your neck up or down leading to muscle strain. Replacing your mattress may not always be an option, but look into getting a mattress topper that could change the firmness level and improve sleeping conditions.