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Posted on 04-07-2016

One of the common questions that we get as chiropractor is “does my sleeping position affect my spinal health?” Although we would love for you to have the most comfortable sleep you can, the truth is that some of the positions we sleep in can have a negative effect on our spinal health. Because you spend a great deal of your time sleeping, it’s important to maintain proper posture while in bed. The following are common positions we find ourselves in while we’re sleeping and whether they’re good or bad for our spine:

1.       The Back Sleeper

Some people find it easier to fall asleep pretending they’re watching the stars in the sky. There’s no better position to do this than to sleep on your back with your head on a comfortable pillow. This position allows for most of the spine to maintain proper positioning, but can cause some problems for some in their lower back. A solution for this is by adding a pillow under the knees while on your back in order to relieve the lower back joints from any added tension. When using a pillow for your head, you want to make sure that you use a height that will allow the spine to stay in neutral position, which means your neck should be in line with your back. Having a pillow that is too high will keep the neck flexed beyond its normal position.

2.       The Side Sleeper

Sleeping on your side is an excellent position because this posture allows your spine to maintain its natural curvature. However, there are some things we need to be mindful of when sleeping on our sides. First of all, you want to make sure that the pillow(s) you use will fill in the gap to make your head and neck neutral with the rest of your spine. Anything higher or lower than this can add stress and tension to either side of your neck. Also make sure that your head and neck are not hunched forward and that your shoulders are not rounded in. Secondly, a great way to relieve pressure off the joints in your lower back is to have your knees and hips flexed at a 90-degree angle. Keeping your knees stacked on top of each other prevents any imbalance or rotation into your pelvis. If you find this difficult, a great way to maintain this is by having a pillow between your knees.

3.       The Stomach Sleeper

Any chiropractor will tell you that this is the worst position that you could sleep in. Being in this position for prolonged periods can add tension to any part of your spine. This position loads the joints of the lower back adding extra strain and compression into those areas. Also, stomach sleepers often complain of neck and upper back pain after sleeping. The reason being is because these sleepers would have to turn their head to either side in order to breathe. This position adds more strain to the neck and upper back and has a big effect on the alignment of your spine. Some people can’t help, but to sleep on their stomach. The best way to manage this position is to have a pillow under your stomach to ease the pressure on your lower back, but it’s still best to avoid this position as much as possible.  

Which position best describes you? We all need a restful sleep in order to prepare us for our waking hours, so it’s important that you choose a position that is not only comfortable, but to choose a position that benefits the health of your spine. If you find that you are waking up with any pain or stiffness, it’s necessary to make the proper modifications in order to get that restful sleep. Whether you’re having trouble sleeping or waking up with discomfort, do no hesitate to contact us. Your Mississauga Chiropractors are here to help you with your spinal health. If you have any questions or would like to book an appointment to talk to one of your chiropractors, please call us at (905) 821-4951.

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