Sleeping Right – for your body

by Peter on June 10, 2010

How should I sleep? This is probably one of the most common questions I get when I have a patient who has come to see me. What’s the answer? Well, it depends. So many factors come into play when a patient is in acute pain or has that nasty chronic stiffness when waking in the morning. So to say what is the best position for you while in pain is individual. However I can tell you the best position we all should be sleeping in to give us the best possibility of keeping a healthy back.

Side lying is universally accepted as the best sleeping position. Knees bent and in a fetal position will give your spine the much needed rest from the busy day. You will find that one side will feel more comfortable than the other, and that will usually be the side you will default to. This is sometimes influenced by sleeping with your partner. When was the last time you and your partner switched sides? Suggesting this can result in huge resistance from your partner, however, much like flipping your mattress ( when did you do that last?) flipping sleeping sides will impact the side you sleep on. I’ve had couples who have switched sides, and then resisted switching back 3 months later. Try it, your spine will love you for it. Also make sure your pillow fits the width between your shoulder and ear to avoid any side bending of your cervical spine. A pillow between the knees is also a good thing to do.

Sleeping on you back is also a good way to sleep providing there is support under your knees and good support for your neck. In fact, in acute back pain, sleeping on your back with your knees elevated so high that your feet just touch the mattress (a good bolster or wedge will work fine) will relieve tension and stress of the lower back. The pillow in this case also needs to offer good support under your neck but not forcing your chin up in the air.

Lastly the is the dreaded tummy sleeper. Full on tummy sleeping with your head to the side is awful. However if this is your preference then there are a few things you can do to help ease this poison. A small pillow under your abdomen will help support you lumbar spine. Also you may want to try bringing one knee up to also relieve lumbar pressure. You should try to alternate sides also.

Changing your sleeping posture can be one of the hardest tasks you will undertake. Sleepless nights will happen as you begin in one posture to awaken ever so slightly in another posture. It’s at this time you will have to awake just enough to force yourself back into the correct posture. But persistence will pay off and with that you will be rewarded with a healthy night sleep and arise pain free.

Good luck. Ask any of our therapists to help you through your sleeping posture. And as always if you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to contact me.

In  Health,

Peter Roach, RMT, CNMT, Laser therapist

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