The topic that we’ll be discussing is ‘how sleeping positions affect your health.’ While it may seem silly to spend time talking about, understanding how your position can affect your back and spine (or other body parts!) and knowing how to sleep better, in general, can make a massive difference in the quality of life.
You can sleep in many different positions, so don’t worry if you find one unpleasant; others are available for you! It is essential to note that not all positions will work for everyone or every injury, so please do what works best for you and go from there.
Sleep position 1: On your stomach
While it may sound uncomfortable, sleeping on your stomach is the most common sleeping position. It is cited as the most comfortable position for both males and females.
Why is it so comfortable? Because when you sleep in this position, it allows for maximum mattress height, which in turn reduces pressure on your spine (and therefore your back), hips, and shoulders. However, the downside to this position is that you don’t properly support your head in any way; you are highly vulnerable in this one.
Sleep position 2: On your side
Figuring out how to get into a side sleeping pattern is relatively easy. First, it is vital to make sure your mattress is high enough. This will prevent you from rolling onto your stomach and reduce the pressure on your spine (and, therefore, your back).
You can also make this position more comfortable by using a pillow or rolled-up towel under your hips and adjusting the duvet so that it does not shift during sleep.
Sleep position 3: On your back
This position allows for maximum hip and shoulder pressure relief and is the most recommended position for back problems. This position also allows for the least amount of movement and discomfort.
However, as with most positions, if you flip and turn in bed, you may wake up in the morning feeling sore, stiff, or even worse—unable to move at all. Again—more movement can be painful! To ensure you are getting the best sleep possible while in this position, it is crucial to get into a deep breathing pattern while you sleep. This will help ensure proper alignment of hips, shoulders, neck, etc.
The biggest complaint about sleeping on your back is that pressure is put on your lower back. This usually is easy to combat by simply raising the head of the bed with pillows or a foam wedge.
Sleep position 4: On your side with knees drawn up
This position may be uncomfortable at first but can eventually lead to better circulation and help relieve back pain. There are two different variations of this position; one where you place both knees close to your chest, and one where you place both legs straight out (which is more common). It has been proven that sleeping like this can help alleviate stiffness in your hips, shoulders, etc., and prevent back pain.
The only downside is that you may find yourself waking up to find that your legs are numb or tingling. This numbness can be remedied by simply moving them around a little bit while you sleep.
Sleep position 5: On your back with knees drawn up
This position is much like the 4th, basically the same position but with your knees slightly bent and legs out instead of in.
This position can be tricky at first to get used to, and you may wake up feeling stiff and sore, but after learning the correct sleeping techniques, it can help take pressure off your back and lead to a healthier spine.
Sleep position 6: On your side with knees bent towards the chest
This position is similar to the last, but they are pushed up against your chest instead of your knees being bent. This position may leave you feeling stiff and sore in the morning, but it has been proven to help relieve pain in the hips and back.
Sleep position 7: On your side with legs lifted straight up
This is another tricky sleeping position because it requires good movement patterns first. Once you can move comfortably in bed without waking up or feeling sore, this will be one of the best positions for your body to sleep in.
Sleeping like this allows for pressure relief both on the hips and back; however, it does not take pressure off shoulders as much as other positions.
Which Is the Sleeping Position That Should Be Avoided?
Sleeping on your stomach is never recommended. This position forces you to turn your head to the side for breathing. This can cause damage to the discs in your neck and lead to more severe, long-term problems (e.g., cervical spondylosis, spondylolisthesis).
The experts agree that it is most comfortable to sleep on your side with a pillow under your head and your knees. For stomach sleepers, experts recommend using a thin pillow between the knees to reduce lower back pain.
Now that you know which sleeping position is best for back pain, it’s time to apply them practically. Using these sleeping positions will allow you to get the rest you need while helping to reduce your back pain. Each of these sleeping positions has its benefits and drawbacks; you must choose the best one for you and your needs. If none of these work for you, try some trial and error! You may be surprised at what works best. If none of them help, consider contacting a chiropractor or alternative practitioner (e.g., physical therapist) who can point out any other issues and offer more advice on getting rid of your back pain.