Originally written and posted by the Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors
Sleep. All of us could probably use more of it with our go-go lifestyles. A good night’s sleep is essential to our overall health and well-being.
It can be frustrating, when we do get around to getting some shut-eye, we can wake up with neck, back or shoulder pain. We should wake up from our slumber refreshed and relaxed instead of in pain.
Changing or altering your position in bed can help you reduce the pain associated with your sleeping pattern and will go a long way in making your slumber that much better.
Changing your sleeping position can be easier said than done. You’ve most likely slept that way your entire life, so breaking that habit can prove to be quite difficult.
Below are some common sleeping patterns and what you can do to improve your sleep for each.
Sleeping on your back – This is the optimal position to reduce pain while sleeping. Sleeping on your back is great for keeping the spine, neck and head aligned and does not force your body into any contortions. This position helps the mattress do its job of supporting the spine. When sleeping on your back, your face should be parallel to the ceiling, not tilted up or down.
Sleeping on your stomach – Sleeping on your stomach is regarded by chiropractors as the worst position for putting stress on your body. This position alters the natural curve of your lower spine, or lumbar and can cause numbness, tingling and pain in your extremities.
If sleeping on your stomach is absolutely necessary, try to shift positions several times in the night to avoid prolonged stress.
Sleeping on your side - Sleeping on your side is an effective way to reduce pain if your mattress is properly suited to your body shape. A good mattress should distribute your weight evenly while ensuring your lower back keeps its proper curvature. Sleeping on your side keeps your body in a relatively neutral position.
Also, for side sleepers, try placing a second pillow between your knees. This helps to keep your hips open. The pillow will help reduce low back pain as well as the strain on the ligaments in your hips.
Sleeping in the fetal position (knees to your chest) - Sleeping this way can be very harmful to your body. This position may be acceptable for pregnant women, but isn’t good for your body in the long run. Keeping your body and spine tightly curled in the fetal position can lead to muscle and ligament adaptations in one of or all of your neck, back or hips.
See your chiropractor if pain persists
If you are still experiencing pain in the mornings as a result of your sleep, see your chiropractor.
Chiropractors are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions of the spine and musculoskeletal system (the body’s bones, muscles, cartilage, tendons, joints and connective tissue). Your chiropractor will first assess your current condition or the source of your problem and then develop a treatment plan for you to help ease your pain.