Good sleep is critical for our health and wellbeing. Not only does sleep help us feel refreshed, but it also helps our bodies recover from the day’s activities.
On the other hand, poor sleeping positions can lower your sleep quality and put you at risk of developing back pain or other health problems. In this guide, we will discuss the best sleeping positions for your spine and general health from a chiropractic viewpoint. We’ll also give you some handy tips for improving your sleeping position and choosing a mattress and pillow.
The Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep
We spend approximately a third of our lives sleeping. That’s about 26 years for an average person, so it is no surprise that sleep has such a significant impact on the overall quality of our health and wellbeing.
However, an estimated four out of every 10 Australians are not getting enough sleep.
Research shows that sleep deprivation is linked with several physical and mental health issues, including:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Depression and anxiety disorders
- Poor cognitive function and memory problems
- Increased risk of motor vehicle accidents
There are many different things that can affect the quality of our sleep, such as stress, caffeine and alcohol consumption, exercise habits, and room temperature. However, one of the most important factors affecting your sleep is your sleeping position.
How Bad Sleeping Positions Affect Your Spine
When you sleep, your muscles relax and release tension. This includes the muscles in your neck and spine.
As you lie on your bed or soft surface to rest at night, gravity pulls down on your head (increasing the weight) while your spine is in a neutral or slightly flexed (bent) position. This can cause the vertebrae in your neck and back to compress, leading to pain and stiffness the next day.
Sleeping on your stomach compresses your spine and can cause lower back pain. Additionally, as you must turn your head so you’re not face-down in your pillow, your neck is twisted and strained all night.
Sleeping on your side is better than sleeping on your stomach. However, it can still cause problems if you don’t have the correct pillow. Additionally, if you always lie on the same side, this can cause muscle imbalances.
Lying flat on your back is another position that will ensure your spine is relaxed and in a neutral position. But be warned: if your mattress is too soft or if your pillow is too thick, this can easily take your spine out of neutral alignment, leading to back pain and neck stiffness.
Tips and Treatments to Improve Your Sleeping Position
Good sleep starts with a good mattress. If you have a worn or old mattress that sags in the middle, then it’s time for a new one.
A firm mattress is best to support your body and spine. However, if you find a firm mattress too uncomfortable, a memory foam topper can help to soften it without compromising its support.
Putting a pillow under your knees when you’re lying on your back can also help support your spine’s natural curve.
If you’re a side sleeper, try to alternate the sides you sleep on. for some people its a good idea to sleep with a pillow between your knees to keep your spine, hips, and pelvis in alignment.
Some people still suffer from back stiffness and pain even with the ideal sleeping environment. If this is the case for you, a chiropractor can help to adjust your spine manually and relieve any tension or compression.
Recommended Pillows for Neck and Spine Support
The pillow you choose should be at the right height and firmness, allowing your spine to stay in alignment. If your head is too high or too low, or your pillow is too soft or too firm, it can cause pain and stiffness in your neck and spine.
Medium-firm pillows are the best pillows for most sleeping positions. The main exception to this is if you always sleep on your stomach. In this case, a thin, soft pillow is best to minimise the strain on your neck.
Memory foam pillows are a good choice for side and back sleepers, as they conform to the shape of your head and neck, providing support where you need it most.
For those suffering from back and neck pain, especially after sleeping, it’s worth considering a specialist chiropractic pillow. These pillows are designed and shaped to provide the correct level of support and comfort for your head, neck and spine.
For more advice on pillows and sleeping positions, speak to a chiropractor at Our Chiro Brisbane. This is general advice, always consult your healthcare professional.