As chiropractors, we preach about having good posture all the time. Most people think about maintaining good posture throughout the day, but it is also important while you sleep!
We spend a third of our lives asleep. A proper sleep position can relieve stress on your spine while an unhealthy position can increase pain or stiffness in your body and contribute to a lower-quality sleep.
One of the most common questions we get is, “What is the best position to sleep in?”
On your back… Some people find this position to be uncomfortable but it is ideal for spinal health. When in this position, it is important to have proper support under your neck. Your pillow should fill the curve underneath your neck to allow the neck to stay in alignment with the rest of your spine. You can also put a pillow under your knees to take pressure off of your lower back.
On your side… If lying on your back is not comfortable for you, lying on your side is the next best option. Proper pillow position is important. The pillow should fill the height of your shoulder, allowing the neck to stay in alignment with the rest of your spine. It can be helpful to have a family member or friend take a look at your posture to make sure your head isn’t elevated or dropping too low. A pillow between your knees is great in this position as well — the knees should be the same width as your hips.
On your stomach… This is the position that we should be avoiding. When you sleep on your stomach, you are forced to turn your neck to the side all night, which creates problems for the neck and upper back.
Your mattress and pillow are also an important part of a good night’s sleep. Studies have shown that Tempurpedic and Sleep Number beds are beneficial because they change to your individual body’s needs. This is especially important if you sleep with a significant other, as you both will need individualized support.
At Live Well, we offer customized pillows. We take a couple of measurements from your neck and upper back and Foot Levelers to create a pillow that is custom to you! Ask your doctor about this next time you’re in the office.
Other Tips to Get a Better Night’s Sleep
- Keep your room dark. Blackout curtains work great for this. Cover any light emitted from electronic devices nearby, if possible (a small piece of painter’s tape or electrical tape works well).
- Studies have shown that keeping the room at 65 degrees is ideal for sleep.
- A white noise machine can help some fall asleep easier, drowning out nearby sounds.
- Cut caffeine around noon. The later you consume caffeine, the more it can affect your REM sleep. Even if you can fall asleep OK, it can decrease the quality and depth of sleep you get.
- Avoid alcohol before bed. This is similar to caffeine. It affects the quality and depth of sleep you get.
- Try to disconnect from electronic devices 30+ minutes before bedtime.
Reference: Eric Suni (2020). Healthy sleep tips. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene/healthy-sleep-tips