Sleeping Positions


In a previous article we discussed choosing a pillow to reduce neck pain. Other than the pillow, there are other factors which may contribute to a poor night sleep, or morning pain and stiffness.

It is very common for people to wake up complaining of neck and back pain after a night of rest. Although there are several organic causes for this, including inflammation and possible disc protusion, a person with a healthy spine can still be troubled with pain and stiffness.

What does this suggest? Perhaps sleeping in awkward postures for x number of hours, can do us all harm….So what is the best sleeping postures?

Good sleeping posture and position is important
Good sleeping posture and position is important

Obviously modifying sleeping postures is tricky especially as we are not actively aware of what position we toss and turn into during the night. However with a help of a few pillows and some useful tip, we may be able to suggest a more comfortable and ideal sleeping position.

Sleeping Postures

Sleeping on back

The key with any posture is to ensure a neutral spine. Imagine a plumb line down the nose and along the length of the spine. Your left and right side of the body should be like a reflection of each other. The ears should be parallel to the bed. It should not be kinked upwards (if the pillow is too high) or kinked downwards (if the pillow is too low).

In addition if you feel a strain on the lower back, or an increased arch, popping a pillow under the knees will alleviate the tension.

Sleeping On Stomach

This sleeping position can be the most harmful to the spine. Not only does it encourage lumbar lordosis but its also involves twisting the neck to either side.

If this position remains a favourite, try modifying it. You can do so by popping a small pillow under the tummy. This will ensuring the neck pillow is not too high kinking your head upwards.

Note: Resting your head on your hands may be more comfortable for the neck. However, it may contribute to shoulder impingement symptoms

Sleeping On Side

Similarly to the other postures, a symmetrical body is the ideal posture. Once again the imaginary plumb line should be running straight down through the nose. It should run along the length of the spine and parallel to the bed.

Likewise, using pillows to prop between your legs will stop the individual’s leg from dropping forward and twisting the lower spine. In addition, having a couple of pillows to rest your arms on will also prevent you from rolling forward and twisting your mid back.

Needless to say, posture is important at all times of day. Therefore, the same principles apply when you are at the desk, watching TV and driving.

If you have a specific condition of the spine, you may want to discuss sleeping positions and postures at length with your therapist.

Experiencing neck pain? Click here to find out more about physiotherapy for neck pain relief and how Core Concepts can help.


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