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Sleep Positioning

Proper sleep positioning is important

In a recent post, we talked about the importance of sleep and the role it plays in maintaining a healthy immune system.

This week, we’re going to discuss sleep positioning, and the best way you can get a good night’s rest while contributing to the overall health of your spine.

For many of us, sleep positioning is about “whatever feels the most comfortable.” However, due to the fact that you spend one-third of your entire life asleep, you should really take your posture in bed into consideration.

If your back problems are situated largely in your lumbar region, you may find that sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees for a slight elevation can bring a great deal of relief. Be sure to choose a pillow for your head that keeps your head at a neutral angle. If your chin is up, the pillow is too low. If your chin is pointing down, the pillow is too high.

For those with upper back and neck pain, sleeping on your side is often the most comfortable. Keep in mind that the pillow you choose plays a key role in maintaining the proper alignment of your spine. Steer clear of overly soft and feather pillows. While the cloud-like texture may seem pleasing at first, these pillows lack the structure needed to hold your head in position. If you’re only using one pillow, your head will tend to slump downward, causing strain on your cervical spine and neck ligaments. Some people try to compensate by stacking pillows, but this only leads to your neck being bent in the opposite direction. If you often wake up with headaches in the morning, it’s likely due to your pillows not providing sufficient support.

To help maintain proper alignment, choose a firm, foam pillow, and test a few in the store whenever possible. When you lay down, you want the space between your shoulder and neck to be mostly filled by the pillow’s bottom half. Shop with a friend or spouse, and have them check your body alignment from behind. Are you lying in a straight line from the top of your head to your buttocks? You’ve found the right pillow.

Regardless of your back issues, whether it’s lumbar, thoracic or cervical, remember to never sleep on your stomach. Stomach sleeping places undue pressure on your lower spine forcing it into almost a “sway back” position. Meanwhile, your head is being twisted at a 90-degree angle for hours on end — these leads to terrible strain and constant subluxations that need to be corrected in your neck.

Spending a few minutes to think about your sleep positioning – you can improve both your sleep and spinal health in the process. Have a good night’s rest!

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