One of the most frequently asked questions in our office is “do you think the way I'm sleeping may be causing or contributing to my neck/back pain?” A very good question! Getting a good nights rest is very important for our body to function properly. I for one take my sleep very seriously. Serious as in I seriously love sleeping!
I think the biggest struggle most people deal with is what's a comfortable position vs what is good for your body and back. Typically when it comes to these conversations with patients I try to meet people in the middle with what feels comfortable and is better on their back. Today we're going to talk about the pro's and con's to the 3 general sleeping positions: back, side, and stomach. Now there are a lot of variations of these three positions but lets keep it simple with the positions and I'll break down the proper sleep positioning for each.
Pros: This position is the most beneficial when it comes to keeping proper spinal alignment and curvature. Now generally speaking laying on the back can tend to put stress and pain on the low back but a quick fix for this is putting a pillow or rolled-up towel underneath your knees to prevent strain and support the spines natural curve. Also make sure your head pillow isn't too thick. Bringing your head up into a flexion position can cause difficulty breathing and improper back curvature. In a perfect world it'd be most ideal to sleep without a pillow but lets be real.. we all love our fluffy pillow! Sleeping on your back also ensures that you are keeping your body weight evenly distributed. This creates far less pressure on the joints opposed to side sleeping. Thirdly, from a cosmetic standpoint back sleeping gets another win. When you sleep on your back with your face in the air you don't have to worry about the sides of your face getting smooshed against the pillow leading to more facial wrinkles.