With the recent daylight-saving time change, we have noticed that we have been having a lot of discussions with our patients regarding sleeping habits and the best ways to ensure a good night’s sleep and a happy and healthy spine when waking up in the morning.
Patients frequently ask the question “what is the best sleeping position to reduce neck and back pain?” This is a great question; however, it is equally important to discuss what is the worst sleeping position for spinal health, and the answer to that question is easy- sleeping on your stomach! Being a stomach sleeper is problematic for several reasons. First off, it forces your neck in one position – to the side – for long periods. While your neck is turned to the right or left, several of the muscles (and joints) in your neck are working hard to keep your head in that position. Other muscles are working hard to balance the positioning muscles. Neck muscles that are tight for several hours can cause pain, inflammation, numbness, and tingle in the hands or headaches. It is certainly no fun to wake up with any of these issues.
While sleeping on your stomach, it also causes your back to arch, putting pressure on the joints, discs, and nerves, which can cause muscle spasms or sciatica, resulting in increased back pain.
So again, that brings us to the question, “what is the best sleeping position to reduce neck and back pain?” The answer is to try to sleep on your back or side instead. When sleeping on your back, lie flat with a pillow under your head and neck and a pillow under your knees. Do not ever sleep with more than one pillow under your head- when discussing sleeping positions with our patients we usually find that patients are using more pillow than they need. Pillows are not one size fits all! Your neck should not be pushed up so that your chin moves down toward your chest. A pillow should support your neck according to its natural shaped curve, allowing your head to rest in a neutral position.
When you sleep on your side, support your head and neck with pillows so that your spine will remain in a straight or neutral line. Your legs should be at a 35 to 45-degree angle and not drawn up in a crunched or fetal position. You may feel more comfortable with a pillow between your knees to keep your pelvis from being tilted.
Changing sleeping habits can be difficult and take both time and commitment; however, the results are worth it!
As always, for any questions or to make an appointment for a chiropractic visit, massage therapy, or medical acupuncture please call our Mount Pleasant Chiropractic office at 843-416-8012.