Sleep is essential for every living being. Resting during the night is imperative to help the body recover from the day’s activities. On average, humans sleep 6-8 hours everyday- spending approximately 2,820 hours a year sleeping in a bed!
Most neck and back pain caused by poor sleeping habits is the result of an improper sleeping position, type of bed or pillow used. There are various sleeping positions that can provide better overall alignment for your spine which decreases the chances of waking up to pain in the morning.
A general rule to follow is you want your spine in a neutral position. To achieve this, the best position for sleeping is on your back. Sleeping on your back allows your head, neck and spine to maintain a neutral position. While sleeping on your back, you should place a pillow under your knees or a rolled towel under the small curvature of your lower back to maintain the spine’s general curve.
Sleeping on your side is another good sleep position, which complements the natural curvature of the spine while keeping the spine elongated. As it turns out, sleeping on your side is the most popular sleeping position. According to a nationwide survey of more than 2,000 people by Tempur-pedic, 57% of people start in this position. While sleeping in the side position, it is ideal to keep your knees slightly bent and a pillow between your legs. This position will reduce stress on the hips. In addition, if you have shoulder pain, be sure to avoid sleep on the side with the painful shoulder, as this this will aggravate the injured area. Keeping your arms in front of you and not under your head or pillow will prevent your hands from going numb from nerve irritation and reduce the stress on your neck and shoulder.
Laying on your stomach is the worst sleeping position for your back and neck. Sleeping on your stomach creates the most strain and pressure against curvature of your neck and lower back. As it flattens the natural curve of the spine, lower back pain can result.
Ideally, you want to find a sleeping position where your joints are not being excessively compressed or muscles are placed in an abnormally shortened or stretched position. Consistently compressing the body on one side over time can create a postural imbalance and result in soreness or pain in an area.
It is important to choose a mattress that is most suited for your body. Ideally, you should purchase a new mattress every seven to ten years. Choosing to sleep on a mattress that is comfortable for you with the least amount of pressure or compression can allow you to fall asleep faster, stay asleep, and get an overall restful nights sleep.