Burnaby physiotherapyWhat Position Should I Sleep In?

Sleeping is an essential part of life. We all have to sleep in order to rest and repair our bodies and minds. When asked how much we sleep, the average answer is between 7-9 hours. We only get 24 hours a day so that is roughly one third of the day which equates to one third of our lives. That is a lot of time spent in one position and if not done properly can have a negative effect on your spinal and general health.

Sleeping improperly or with poor posture can cause pain along with other conditions in your spine that can worsen over time. Sleeping on your stomach is often the worst position for your body. It may be comfortable or it may be the only position you can fall asleep in, but it can very likely make things worse. Poor posture can strain your spine resulting in pain and discomfort.

The 3 main positions we sleep in
When it comes to sleeping posture, we are usually either on our stomach (prone), on either side or on our back (supine). Some people sleep in combinations of the three, essentially whatever feels comfortable for them.

What are the best and worst sleeping postures?
Sleeping on your back is usually the best. With a proper mattress, sleeping on your back helps support the natural curves of your spine and places the least amount of physical stress on your body. Sometimes though, people may not be used to sleeping on their back. In addition, sleeping on your back can also lead to more snoring.

The second best position to sleep in, which most people find themselves in, is to sleep on your sides. If you do sleep on your sides, be sure to use enough pillow support so that your head and neck remain in line with your spine. As well, having a cushion between your legs can maintain better posture while sleeping on your sides.

“But sleeping on my stomach feels so comfortable”
While it may feel comfortable for some, the problem is that your head and neck then need to be turned to your left or right in order to breathe properly. Sleeping on your stomach repeatedly over time can place tension on your neck and upper back. This tension can stress the joints, ligaments and muscles in your neck and upper back, which can then lead to neck pain and headache.

Choosing a pillow
Having the right pillow also helps support your posture which leads to better quality sleep. If you do end up sleeping on your stomach, consider getting rid of your pillow altogether or if you really insist on using a pillow, opt for a very thin pillow. For those that are side sleepers, a thick, supportive pillow is usually best. Lastly, for all you back sleepers, a medium-sized pillow typically works best.

If you have any questions or want more tips on improving sleep posture, speak to your chiropractor or physiotherapist.