We toss and turn all night trying to get comfortable. Should we be sleeping on our sides, back or stomach? Included are some health benefits as well as detriments to the 3 most common sleeping positions.
Back sleeping is beneficial for relieving shoulder pain and aids in proper spine alignment due to the even distribution of weight. Back sleeping is also beneficial in alleviating nasal congestion and can help with facial skin conditions because your skin is not against a pillow all night. When back sleeping, it is also important to make sure that your arms are in similar positions, either both at your side, next to you, or across your chest. This balancing makes sure that the spine remains in an even position.
Now, sleeping on your back for 7-10 hours a night may not be comfortable for you. There are ways that you can be better supported while you sleep. Placing a small pillow under the curve of your lower back aids in lower back support. Many have also found that sleeping with a small pillow under their knees is beneficial in relieving stress from the spine.
At Keystone Specific Chiropractic Center we have zero-gravity chairs. These chairs put the client’s spines in a position with the least amount of tension on the spine. Clients rest in these chairs for 15-20 minutes after an adjustment for proper re-alignment of the spine allowing clients to hold an adjustment for longer between appointments.
The majority of the population are side sleepers. This position is beneficial for healthy spine alignment and is the sleep position least likely to cause back pain. Side sleeping reduces snoring, heartburn, sleep apnea, and acid reflux. It is also recommended to sleep on your left side because it places less direct pressure on your heart and other internal organs.
Side sleeping can cause shoulder or neck pain. It is important that when sleeping on your side you are using a medium to firm pillow. It is important that the pillow maintains its shape throughout the night so that your neck is in a neutral position and that your shoulders are not hunched forward. Sleeping on your side can also alleviate lower back pain, especially if a small pillow is placed between the knees. The pillow allows for less pressure on the knees, hips, and low back.
Stomach sleeping is the hardest position on our bodies. When we sleep on our stomachs we have to turn our necks and arrange our legs so that we are in a twisted position. This places an immense amount of tension on our spines and pressure on our internal organs. When sleeping on your stomach your ribs have to work against gravity in order to breathe in this position, which may force you to use more energy and thereby make your sleep less restful. This position provides the least amount of spinal support leading to waking up with neck and low back pain. If your mattress isn’t firm enough, your stomach and hips will sink into the mattress, uncomfortably stretching your spine out of alignment. This kind of asymmetrical sleep posture can negatively impact your spine over time.
Overall, stomach sleeping has very few health benefits. It does reduce snoring even though it is creating pressure on the rib cage. There are some strategies to create better structure for stomach sleeping such as placing a pillow under the hips. This sleeping position is not advised as a long-term sleeping habit. Oftentimes people prefer to sleep on their stomachs because they feel like they need to relieve pressure in their necks or low back. This is a sign that there is a misalignment in the spine and getting an adjustment can be beneficial. At Keystone Specific Chiropractic Center we do testing to find out where the spinal misalignments are.
One of the hardest things to do is change the way we sleep! We have grown accustomed to falling asleep in certain positions and to change takes time. It may just be something that will take a few nights to change or it might mean that your spine needs to be adjusted. The best way to find out is tof come in and be evaluated. The number one thing we help with is relieving pressure from the spine to help people get better sleep!