Some positions are definitely better for your spine than others, however – as someone with chronic sleeping problems, I know that sometimes you just need to do whatever it takes to fall asleep. And once you are asleep you have very little control over what your position your body twists into. So, in this week’s blog let’s just talk about ideal postures and the pros and cons of each position.
Sleeping on your back is awesome. It’s the easiest way to keep your back straight and contortion-free. Incidentally, it’s also the ideal position for preventing those weird morning wrinkles on your face. Back sleepers should look for a firmer mattress and a thin pillow to keep the neck in line with the rest of your spine. A thick pillow that props your head up will eventually cause neck pain and headaches. On the downside, sleeping on your back can increase the instances of snoring and sleep apnea.
My dog likes to sleep on his side and this is also the most common position for people. It’s comfortable and studies have shown that it can lead to a higher quality of sleep. Side sleepers need a slightly softer mattress that allows the hips and shoulders to sink in a bit so that the spine can be stable in a perfectly straight alignment. The pillow should be the appropriate thickness to keep your neck in line with the rest of your body (not too thick or too thin).
On the downside, side sleeping is a slippery slope of awkward positions and contortions that lead to your arms falling asleep and leg pain. Body pillows are excellent at preventing this and a pillow between your knees can be helpful too – especially if you have wider hips.
Finally – stomach sleeping. Stomach sleeping is the worst. It’s awful for your neck because it requires that you turn your head to one side – leading to muscle imbalance and stiffness in your neck. Furthermore, stomach sleeping flattens out the natural curves in your spine and stretches and weakens your core muscles – leading to low back pain.
Now that you know the pros and cons of each position, you have the power to make better decisions for yourself. Don’t be too hard on yourself! Once you fall asleep, your body tends to shift into whatever position it wants.