Are Your Sleeping Habits Killing You?

By CORE Chiropractic

May 27, 2014

Do you wake up with more pain in the morning than when you went to bed? Are the first few steps out of bed stiff and achy? For many people, sleeping is a major culprit for daily pains.

You’re probably not thinking about your spine when you are heading to sleep, but spinal alignment is still critical when you are sleeping.

Sleeping concerns are the questions I get from patients most often, and I believe it’s a crucial topic.  We spend a third of our lives sleeping! Perhaps we need to put some more thought into how we are doing it.

Here are the various sleeping positions and some things to keep in mind:

Stomach sleeper
This position is hands down the most detrimental position to the spine. Sleeping on the stomach means the head is turned to the side for 6-8 hours per night…no wonder these people wake up with neck pain! Additionally, the low back is placed into hyperextension, which creates an increased stress on the joints causing compression and leading to pain.

Side sleeper
Overall, this is a pretty good sleeping position. You still want to make sure your head and neck are as aligned as possible. Making sure you have a pillow that is thick enough to support between your shoulder and your head will keep your neck in a neutral position. Keeping a pillow between the knees allows the pelvis to stay aligned and subsequently relieves tension on the lower back. I also suggest hugging a pillow between your arms to prevent prolonged rounding in the shoulders.

Back sleeper
This is your chiropractors number one recommended sleeping position! This will allow optimal positioning of the spine and minimize stress on the body.  The biggest mistake people make is having too much support under the neck.  Use a pillow that allows your neck to lay neutral, maintaining the cervical curve. Placing a pillow underneath the knees will relieve tension from the low back.

Besides your sleeping position, equally important are the materials used to sleep on.

Your pillow could very well be a major source of your pains. With so many overwhelming choices at your everyday shopping store from feather down to soft or firm, this can be a complicated decision. My suggestion is to rely on an expert when selecting a pillow.  The experts at Relax The Back are wonderful at selecting a pillow based on your sleeping position and size. They will let you lay on their beds while they watch you lay on their wide variety of pillows, making sure to suggest the one that keeps your spine in the most neutral position!

This tends to be a more difficult decision. You know the story of Goldilocks and the three bears? That definitely holds true here. Every one prefers a slightly different type of mattress and support, and there are many options on the market.  What you want to avoid is a mattress that sags too much, which places too much compression on the joints. Conversely, a mattress that is too firm will cause pressure points and pain. I would suggest taking a lot of time to try out all of the varieties, and selecting the one that feels “juuuuuust right.”

Of course regular adjustments from your chiropractor are also the best way to optimize all of the above advice, and keep your spine in tip top shape!

CORE Chiropractic

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