Do you find yourself tossing and turning throughout the night? Or do you wake up in the morning with a stiff neck or low back pain? If you are among the 40-60% of the population who suffers from a sleep disorder, you need to start sleeping smarter by correcting your bedtime posture. An adequate amount of rest is essential to have a healthy lifestyle. Individuals spend on average one third of their lives in bed; having poor sleeping posture is very damaging to the spine. Correct your posture, sleep more restfully, and wake up feeling recharged in the morning … no coffee needed!
How many of you have made the claim “I think I slept wrong last night” as you massage your stiff neck? A proper sleeping position is a critical way to protect your spine. Even while you are sleeping you have the option to be proactive with your health! For better bedtime posture it is optimal to sleep with your back in a neutral position- not arched a lot, but not flat either. This reduces pressure off your spine, resulting in increased flexibility in the morning.
Smart Sleeping Positions:
- Sleeping on your side:
When sleeping on your side, place a pillow between your knees to keep your hips level. Try to keep your top leg from falling over your bottom leg. Having your hips aligned while sleeping will reduce pressure off your lower back.
- Sleeping on your back:
When sleeping on your back, place a pillow under your knees to relieve tension in your lumbar spine. You also can put a small, rolled-up towel under the curve of your back to feel more comfortable.
The condition of your mattress will often dictate your sleep position. If you have an old, worn-out mattress that sags in the middle, sleeping on your side is more difficult. The mattress should be firm, but comfortable. Luxury mattresses such as memory foam are also a good option for better sleeping habits.
Stop Neck Stiffness:
One of the most common causes of neck pain is having your neck twisted or bent too far in any direction for a long time. If you wake up in the morning with a painful neck, it may be because your pillow is not supporting your head and neck in the right position. Your cervical spine should be in a “neutral” position. That means that the normal slight curve of your neck is not changed.
Even before going to sleep, one mistake that many people make is not supporting their head properly while reading or watching television in bed. Avoid propping yourself up on several pillows with your head bent forward. If you are reading, make sure your arms are supported and your head is in a neutral position. When it comes to getting some shut-eye, the best position for sleeping is on your back or your side. Avoid sleeping on your stomach, because this forces your head to be twisted into an unnatural position.
Picking the Right Pillow:
Finding the right pillow can improve the quality of your sleep and prevent or reduce neck pain, according to studies on pillow use. If you sleep on your side, pick a pillow that just fills the space between your ear and your mattress without tilting your head. If you sleep on your back, your pillow should keep your head from tilting backward or forward.
There are many pillow options to choose from. The goal is to find a pillow that gives you good support as well as a good night’s sleep. The basic rule is to find a pillow that keeps your neck in that neutral position.
Start your day with proper posture and be mindful of how you rise from bed. Don’t be sluggish, rise with intention:
- Roll onto your side and bend both knees.
- Drop your feet over the side of the bed as you push with both arms to sit up.
- Scoot to the edge of the bed and position your feet under your buttocks.
- Stand up, keeping your back in the neutral position.
Implement these bedtime posture tips into your daily routine and wakeup feeling recharged. If you continue to experience pain or discomfort at night or have difficulty falling asleep, consult a Postural Specialist. Postural Specialists focus on the treatment of spinal problems that can interfere with sleep.
Postural distortions can keep you awake at night and feeling restless. To improve the quality of your sleep, consider the importance of proper bedtime posture and lifetime postural correction.
Dr. Krista Burns DC, DrHA, CPEP, CPS
Doctor of Chiropractic
Doctor of Health Administration
Certified Postural Specialist
Co-Founder American Posture Institute
Posture by Design, Not by Circumstance