We don’t usually think about our back when we sleep. Only when it is bothering us and we are in pain. Certain positions tend to ease the pain and sometimes we develop sleeping habits, not considering whether it is healthy or not for our back in the long run.
I would like to go through some of the tips I share with our members about the best sleeping position for your spine. So, before you go and buy an expensive mattress, find out if your sleeping position is correct.
There are only three main positions that you can sleep in: on your back, side, or stomach. Of course there are some that somehow manage to end up in strange positions like hanging off the side of the mattress, but we won’t go there.
Sleeping on your side
This is by far the worst position you can sleep in. Why? Take a look at the image below. When you are sleeping on your side, your support comes from your hips and your shoulders. Based on which is wider, one part of your body is higher than the other.
Also, the part of your spine that is in between your shoulders and hips is left with no support and therefore arches down. This causes a curve in your spine that can lead to problems such as scoliosis, unnecessary strain on the muscles on one side of your spine, as well as uneven pressure on your discs.
Sleeping on your stomach
This is not as bad for your back as it is for your neck. When you sleep on your stomach, you’re forced to turn your head either to the right or to the left. Throughout the night you have to keep turning your head from one side to the other because it eventually becomes uncomfortable.
When your head is turned, the muscles on one side of your neck are contracted, while the other side is stretched out. What this is doing is creating an imbalance in the muscles of your neck. This may lead to pain and tightness, herniated and bulging discs, and pinched nerves.
I have personally experienced a pinched nerve in the neck from falling asleep on my stomach. I woke up and when I turned my head to the left I felt a sharp pain. Luckily, I knew some exercises that I could do at our center, and the pain went away completely.
Sleeping on your back
This is the best position to sleep in. Why? Because your spine is in a neutral, relaxed state. It is being supported all the way from your neck to your hips. It is not curved to the side in any way.
The best way to think about your sleeping position is to imagine your posture when you are standing up and looking straight ahead. Are your hips and shoulders parallel? Yes. Is your head hunched forward? No.
In a comfortable standing position, your shoulders and hips are parallel and your head is straight up. Now try to mimick this posture laying down on your back with your hands at your sides. That is the best sleeping position.
One thing to remember is to stay away from big pillows that force your head to hunch forward. Instead, go with a small, thin pillow, or no pillow at all. Long, cylindrical pillows that fit underneath your neck work as well.
Develop a habit
Sleeping on your back may feel strange at first but that is simply because you are most likely used to sleeping another way and have developed a habit. Start by forcing yourself to sleep on your back for 30 minutes at night. As it gets easier, increase the time until you have developed the habit of sleeping on your back.
Many people fall into the categories of side and stomach sleepers. Combined with a lack of exercise for their spines, this is a recipe for disaster. If you already sleep on your back, great!
A multitude of things can contribute to back pain. Not just a lack of exercising. What I have found through working with many people is that back pain relief
always requires a lifestyle change. This is one of those things that simply can’t be overlooked because we do it on a day to day basis and it has a direct impact on our spine. Develop healthy sleeping habits and your back will thank you later.