People generally keep the same position throughout the night while they sleep, so if you aren’t sleeping in a way that is supportive for your spine, you could put your body in a chronically stressful position for 7-9 hours every day! Check out Upstate Orthopedics’ SIX Tips for supporting your spine while you sleep:
1) The best option is to sleep on your back. This position is most recommended to balance weight distribution and support the spine’s natural curvature. If sleeping on your back is uncomfortable for your lower back, putting a pillow under your knees can help alleviate this.
2) Your head pillow should help support the neutral position. A small pillow under the head and neck (not shoulders) should fill the space between the head and neck without forcing your neck into flexion (chin to chest). If snoring is a concern, don’t add more pillows under your head, instead consider a full cushioned wedge pillow or an adjustable bed to elevate the upper body.
3) Side sleepers can still support natural spine curvature. You can sleep with both knees equally pulled toward the chest in a relaxed fetal position, and properly positioned pillows can assist in holding a neutral spine. Your head pillow should support your neck, filling the space between your shoulder and your head, and a pillow between the knees reduces strain on your hips.
4) Try to not sleep on your stomach! It is the worst position for your body in that it can put additional strain on your low back, and turning your head to the side for extended periods of time is a stress for your neck. If you must sleep on your stomach, try putting a pillow under your hips/lower back for low back support, and only a thin (or no!) pillow under your head.
5) Replace worn out mattresses. Mattresses should be replaced every 8-10 years, so if your mattress sags and isn’t supportive, you may want to consider updating.
6) Set yourself up for good sleep. The body and mind undergo repairs when you sleep, so set yourself up for a good night’s rest by abiding by positive sleep tips: have a consistent bedtime routine, allow for 7-9 hours, sleep in a cool and dark room, avoid electronics in the bedroom, reduce caffeine intake later in the day, and engage in healthy exercise during the day.
Sleep should be restful and rejuvenating, and the above tips can help make sure your sleep position isn’t causing you pain. If you have pain that is disrupting your sleep, doesn’t allow you to get comfortable, limits your movement, or otherwise impacts your day, our providers at Upstate Orthopedics can help you out. Click here to request an appointment.