If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard a practice member say “I think I slept wrong”…I’d have a lot of nickels. The truth is: sleeping posture matters. When you consider the fact that we spend about 1/3 of our lives in bed, we need to be cognizant of how we position our spine during this time, just as we do during the rest of our day. When the spine is in a neutral position, our nervous system can function optimally to repair our body and mind throughout the night. When the spine is abnormally twisted or torqued by an improper sleeping position, problems can arise. Not only can this detrimental posture impair our body’s ability to heal and repair, but it can also create tension and inflammation in our muscles, tissues, and joints – leading to pain and discomfort.
Here’s what you can do to maintain a healthy spine while sleeping:
1. Sleep on your side or back. Do NOT sleep on stomach. Sleeping on your stomach forces the neck to twist one way or the other for a prolonged period of time, creating muscular tension and impeding circulation.
2. Use a proper neck pillow. While sleeping on your back, this means having a lip in the front part of the pillow to support a healthy neck curve, raising the mid-neck slightly above the back of the head. My favorite is the tempurpedic found here
While sleeping on your side, this means sizing your pillow to fill the space between your head and the outside of your shoulder, while keeping a neutral spine. My favorite is the Chiroflow found here
3. Use supportive pillows to maintain a healthy spine. While on your back, this means a small-medium sized pillow under your knees. While on your side, this means a small pillow in between your knees (to relieve pressure from your low back) and one pillow under your top-side forearm (to relieve pressure from your shoulder & neck).
4. Wear appropriate clothing. If you are too cold, you can end up curling into a ball to maintain warmth.
5. Sleep in a dark room. Light can keep you awake and/or cause you to subconsciously contort your body in order to move away from it.
Happy Spine = Happy Life.
~Noah Kaplan, D.C.