Stress while you’re sleeping? Is that even possible? North Americans get on average, 6-8 hours of sleep each night. And of the most common health complaints I hear from my patients is that they wake up in the morning with a stiff neck or a low back ache after going to sleep the night before feeling totally fine. How does that happen? How you sleep, more specifically, your sleeping posture has a lot to do with how well you sleep at night and how well you wake up in the morning. Considering that you may spend up to one third of your day sleeping, it makes perfect sense to pay extra attention on your sleeping position and improve it if necessary.
Some of the most common questions I get from patients when they start chiropractic care at our clinic is: 1. What position is best to sleep in? 2. What kind of pillow should I use? 3. What kind of mattress should I buy? All these questions will be addressed in this article. But first …
Let me talk about habit. Human beings are creatures of habit … which means once you do something in a certain way it’s hard to change the way you do it. It takes awareness and energy and willingness to change a habit. This is true for sleeping habits or sleeping positions. Some of my chiropractic patients tell me they sleep on their stomach. This is not the best position to sleep in. In fact, this position can cause a lot of stress on your neck muscles, joints, and nerves because your neck is usually turned to one side and bent sideways when you sleep on your stomach.
So what is the best position to sleep without causing much strain or stress on your neck or back? The side position and flat on your back are the two best positions to sleep in. Sleeping one your side or on your back keeps your spine in a neutral position. What’s important is to use a pillow that is not too shallow and not too big and fluffy. While on your side, the pillow should take up enough space between your ear and the mattress to keep your head straight on its side. On your back, the pillow should support the natural ‘C’ shape curve of your neck. A good orthopedic pillow can help accommodate this. Many chiropractors recommend orthopedic pillows to their patients. Orthopedic pillows are specially designed to keep your neck in its optimal natural position whether you sleep on your side or on your back.
A couple of more sleeping tips…
While on your side, you can place a small pillow between your knees. This helps relieve tension or strain in your lower back. The same can be accomplished while sleeping on your back by placing a pillow under you knees. This is especially helpful when suffering of low back pain
Now for the mattress …There are many forms to choose from which can sometimes be confusing. The simplest advice I give to my patients is to sleep on a mattress that is not very soft and not too hard either. You want it to be firm enough however that it will protect your spine whether you are sleeping on your side or on your back.
One of the most common benefits I hear from patients receiving chiropractic care is that their sleeping is improved. When you wake up in the morning, you should feel restful, relaxed, regenerated and pain free. Keeping some of these sleeping tips can help you accomplish this regularly. Get into the habit of protecting your spine even while you sleep with proper sleeping positions.