Standing posture or sitting position are likely to come to mind when you think of poor posture leading to lower back pain or neck pain. There is, however, the third type of posture you might be overlooking that’s just as important to your health – your sleeping posture.
As you’re probably aware, an awkward sleeping posture can cause pain the next day, ranging from the pins and needles of a “sleeping” limb to waking with a stiff neck or sore hips.
Common symptoms of poor sleep posture
Neck pain, back pain, stiffness, achiness, headaches, and muscle and joint problems may all be symptoms of poor sleep posture. These symptoms can linger for several days after a bad night’s sleep, and contribute to an increased likelihood of injury
Sleeping postures to avoid
Sleeping on your stomach
Sleeping on your stomach, unfortunately, can cause neck and back pain. When the neck is turned to one side (end range of motion) for extended periods of time, this can put undue strain on your muscles and joints, which is why you may wake up feeling sore and tired. Sleeping on your stomach may also cause lower back tension as your lumbar spine is extended beyond it’s neutral posture.
Sleeping in the fetal position
The fetal position describes lying on one side with your knees drawn tightly towards your chest and head forward with chin down towards your chest. This sleeping posture can put undue strain on the spine, as it flattens out your cervical and lumbar spinal curves. In addition, sleeping in a tight fetal position may leave you sore in the morning as a result of joint pain or stiffness.
When sleeping in a tight and rigid posture, like the fetal position, your ability to take deep breathing while you sleep may be restricted, which decreases your sleep quality.
Sleeping on your side
Side sleeping is similar to fetal sleep, however, your legs are not drawn towards your body, and your neck and chest are more open. Sleeping on your side is usually the best option, though for some individuals side sleeping may exacerbate jaw or shoulder issues.
Keep your knees slightly bent but not drawn up towards your chest when lying on your side. If you have to bring your knees forwards, keep the bend lower than hip level.
A pillow between your lower legs may help you better align your hips and avoid low back pain.
Best sleeping positions to prevent neck and back pain
Sleeping on your stomach or back may exacerbate your pain if you have back problems. Therefore, reduce your risk of back pain by sleeping on your side.
Place a pillow between your knees to keep your hips aligned for further relief. If you must sleep on your back, a pillow under your knees will relieve some of the strain on your back.
When you’re sleeping on your stomach, your head is turned to the side, and your neck is also drawn back. This causes pain and discomfort by putting it at an awkward angle.
Using a pillow in this position would only heighten the awkward angle of your neck. However, sleeping without one can help reduce the unnatural position and spinal strain, so it’s worth considering sleeping without a pillow when on your stomach.
The ideal sleeping position
So how do you decide which sleep position is most comfortable for you? Unfortunately, there is no one sleeping position that is suitable for everyone. Try a few different sleeping positions until you find one that is both comfortable and leaves you feeling well-rested and pain-free when you wake up.
When in doubt, pay attention to your body. Don’t force it if you can’t get comfortable enough to sleep in a particular position. For improved posture, pain relief and best results, please consult with one of our chiropractors at Wellness Chiropractic Prahran.
Final thoughts on poor sleeping posture
Most of us fall asleep without considering how we are positioned. Many people do not consider the health effects of sleeping because it is such a routine habit. Nonetheless, sleep researchers and doctors argue that our sleeping position is essential.
Sleep is a mechanism for restoring the body and its functions and maintaining energy and health. It has both physical and emotional renewing and replenishing effects.
Sleeping on your stomach, back or side can influence snoring, sleep apnea symptoms, neck and back pain and other medical conditions.
Sleep posture is critical for avoiding neck and shoulder musculoskeletal pain.