What is the Best Sleeping Position?
The most common question I get asked by my patients is “what is the best sleeping position?”. It’s a very important question; the seven to eight hours we spend in bed each night have a significant impact on our posture and have the power to contribute to or alleviate neck and back pain. My top consideration in ranking sleeping positions is how well each one supports the natural curve of the spine. Although the optimal position may vary based on the particularities of the individual, in general the ranking goes as follows:
The best – sleeping on your back
Without a doubt sleeping on your back is the winner for the best sleeping position. Back sleeping with a small pillow to support your cervical spine allows the spine to maintain a healthy, neutral, balanced position for the entire night. If you need to prop yourself up with more than one pillow to sleep comfortably it is a sign of a postural issue. It’s a good reason to book an appointment with your chiropractor for treatment.
The second best – sleeping on your side
Many people find side sleeping the most comfortable and it can be especially helpful for snorers. You do, however, need support in order to maintain the natural curve of your spine and the alignment of your hips. Placing a small pillow between your knees keeps
your pelvis in alignment while placing a thick pillow under your neck keeps the neck aligned over the shoulders.
Those who suffer from a low back herniated disc will often find that side sleeping in the fetal position is the most comfortable because the rounding of the back takes pressure off of the posterior disc.
The worst – sleeping on your stomach
Sleeping on your stomach is the least desirable sleep position because it doesn’t support the natural curve of the spine and leads to jamming of the joints. This is further exacerbated when you have an excessively soft bed (we’ll save our discussion of mattresses for
Stomach sleeping is also inherently imbalanced because when you sleep on your stomach your neck is rotated to one side for the entire night. Just imagine what spending seven hours of your waking day looking over your right shoulder would do to your neck and the
muscles surrounding it! This twisted position puts additional stress on the neck, shoulders, and back and restricts natural breathing.
The bottom line:
Ideally everyone would sleep on their back only using a small pillow, but ideally everyone would eat their vegetables, sit less, move more, and floss every day. If you are sleeping in a sub-optimal position due to habit or pain, don’t panic. Sleep is absolutely essential and, in the short term, it is more important to continue sleeping than it is to force yourself into a sleeping position that feels unnatural or painful for you. If your sleep needs improvement come talk to one of our doctors at Performance Health and Wellness about how treatment and the right pillow can help you optimize your sleep, your posture, and your life.
Movement is Health,
Dr. Christian Barney D.C., D.A.B.C.O., C.C.S.P., ART
How can Performance Health & Wellness help you?
- Active Release Technique (ART) to the soft tissue structures to restore normal function, decrease stress to the injured area, reduce scar tissue, and promote healing;
- Stretching and Exercises to prevent condition from returning;
- Chiropractic adjustments to restore proper motion;
- Cold laser to help reduce inflammation;
- Kinesio taping to allow an athlete to continue to particpate in his sport plus augments the treatment.
- Functional medicine with extensive nutritional based consultation, individualized nutrition programs.