Sleeping Positions and Your Spine

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Woman rubbing her neck

Have you ever woken up with your neck or spine just feeling off? It may be due to your sleeping position. That’s why Core PT is offering these tips when it comes to sleeping positions and your spine:

  1. Side Sleepers

The Problem: Sleeping on your side tends to end with your upper leg sliding forward to rest on the mattress, so this can cause rotation in the lower spine.  When your spine is twisted in that position for quite some time, you could wake up sore or in pain.

The Solution: A way to help alleviate these issues is by placing a pillow between your knees and thighs to make your spine align.  Another suggestion to help a side sleeper is to try to switch sides, either throughout the night or trying a new side every other night.  Side sleepers also need to pay attention to their mattress.  If your hips are wider than your waist, a softer mattress can accommodate the width of your pelvis and allow your spine to remain neutral, while hips and waists that are about the same size should have a harder surface to allow alignment.

  1. Back Sleepers

The Problem: This is the best position for sleeping.  Sleeping on your back distributes weight across the widest surface of your body, minimizing pressure on internal organs and pressure points. In spite of this, some people do still experience back pain upon awakening.

The Solution: If you are having back pain with this position, try adding a foam mattress topper or positioning a pillow beneath your head and neck, but not your shoulders, to help align your spine to make you more comfortable.  Be careful not to put multiple pillows under your head because that will cause your spine to flex and bring back more problems.  Placing a small rolled towel under your lower back will also add additional support.

  1. Stomach Sleepers

The Problem: The worst position to fall asleep in due to the unnatural position of your neck is stomach sleeping.  While your neck is turned to the side for you to breathe all night, your spine is being put out of alignment.  The middle of your body is where most of your weight is, so laying on your stomach pulls your spine out of its neutral position.

 The Solution: If you can’t sleep any other way, place a pillow under your pelvis and lower abdomen to reduce strain.  For your neck and head, try using a thin pillow or none at all to reduce the angle of your neck.  Make sure to stretch in the mornings to put your body back into alignment and strengthen supporting muscles.

At Core PT, we’re here to help you be a happier, healthier version of you. We hope these tips help no matter what kind of sleeper you are. If back pain is a constant issue for you, our vestibular therapy program can help you find better spine health!

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