If you want to wake up feeling refreshed and restored after a night of slumber, how you sleep is a critical factor to monitor. Sleeping in the wrong position can exacerbate or even cause neck or back pain. Before such problems get to the point where you feel like you need medical attention, you should analyze your regular sleep position to see if it might be contributing to your discomfort.

Your sleep position should be one that maintains good spinal alignment, without putting undue stress on your back or neck. Your spine naturally has three gentle curves in it, in your neck (cervical), upper back (thoracic), and lower back (lumbar). Ideally, your spine should be in a neutral position whether you are sitting, standing, or lying down, which means that all three curves are in the correct alignment. Maintaining a neutral spine position while you sleep avoids putting strain on the neck or back.

So which sleep positions are best for achieving that goal? The best option for supporting your neck and back is to sleep on your back. Make sure that your pillow is not too high or firm, which can throw your neck out of proper alignment. A pillow under your knees can also help ensure that your spine stays in its natural curved position comfortably. Unfortunately, if you are prone to snoring, sleeping on your back can make the problem worse. Back sleeping is also not recommended for those who suffer from sleep apnea or for pregnant women.

The next best sleep position is on your side. For the most benefit, you should try to sleep with your legs as straight as possible. Sleeping on your side with your legs tightly bent upwards curves your upper back and neck out of neutral alignment, which can cause back pain. A more relaxed bend is kinder to your back. A pillow between your knees can help keep your spine in the correct position. In a side sleeping position, the pillow under your head should keep your nose aligned with the center of your body so that your neck is lined up properly with the rest of your spine. (Side sleeping is considered ideal for snorers, those with sleep apnea, and pregnant women.)

The one sleep position everyone should avoid, whether you’re suffering from back pain already or not, is sleeping on your stomach. This position puts strain on your back by flattening out its natural curves. In addition, sleeping on your stomach forces you to keep your head turned to the side throughout the night, which can cause pain in your neck and upper back.

To keep your body feeling healthy, where you sleep is as important as how you sleep. Even the best sleep position can’t help if you’re sleeping on a sagging, lumpy mattress that’s well past its prime. At IDLE Sleep, we’ve created a line of long-lasting luxury mattresses designed to help you get the quality sleep you deserve. To find out which 2-sided IDLE Sleep mattress is right for you, click here.

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