Do you feel like you are older than your years?
Does it take you at least 5 minutes to get moving?
Is a hot shower required before you feel like you can move?
One reason for all this morning stiffness could be related to what position you sleep in.
The three classic positions are:
There are benefits to both back and side sleeping postures. Let’s run through them and see what are the pros and cons of each.
Side sleeping is a very common favourite sleeping position. A lot of my clients say they like to sleep on their side. The benefits of side sleeping include the best support of your spinal curves. (Assuming you have the right pillow, one which supports the curve of your neck) good open airways for breathing and left side sleeping is best for acid reflux and pregnant women too.
Back sleeping is the second most popular sleeping position and is also a good posture for your spine (unless your mattress is too hard, in which case pop a pillow or rolled towel under your knees). It evenly distributes the weight of your body through the joints. It does allow for an increased likelihood of snoring if the palate is too soft or the weight of your neck is compressing on the throat. It can also make acid reflux worse if you suffer from this.
There are not many wins for stomach sleeping except it can help prevent snoring. Otherwise, it is a poor position for the spine with twisting of the neck and upper thoracic spine and also hyperextension of the lower lumbar spine. It compresses the lungs and leads to shallow breathing. My advice is to avoid stomach sleeping.
My personal favourite position when I was younger was stomach sleeping. Yes, your chiropractor who cares for your spines used to love to sleep in the worse position for her back! And I had regular headaches (this is how I first found out about chiropractic) which were probably aggravated by the position I slept in every night. I had to change my favourite sleeping position. It took a lot of work. But with effort and the right pillow supports, I managed to change and now I love sleeping on my side.
The promised pillow talk:
The trick to getting comfortable on your side or back is the correct pillow and arm position, the one that makes you most comfortable, but yet supports the curves of your spine. The pillow under your neck needs to be high enough that your head is in a neutral position in relation to the rest of your spine. Not tilted up or down. The pillow with a curve will cradle the curve of your neck, supporting it all night long. When you lay on your side you will need a higher pillow than if you lay on your back.
If you are a side sleeper and you like to throw your top leg up, having a pillow under your knee can ensure there is no twist on your lower spine. This prevents the knee from dropping down to the mattress. I personally love this type of position as it also holds the shoulders in a better position also preventing numbness in the arms during the night.
Lastly, for those back sleepers who find they get sore in the lower back, a pillow under the knees can ease that lower back into a more relaxed and neutral spine position.
What’s your favourite sleeping position?
If you are suffering from a sore back, neck pain, headaches please try the above sleeping positions and pillow support. You may also need a spinal check-up. You can book in online as a new patient here. Or you can speak to me about it first by booking a free telehealth consultation to see if you are a good candidate for chiropractic care by clicking here.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Anthea Holder
(Chiropractor and Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner)