How Different Sleeping Positions Affect Your Spine

If you’re like most adults, you probably spend up to nine hours sleeping every night. Aside from the occasional tossing and turning, most of that time is likely spent in the same position. If that position is causing your spine to twist, bend, or stretch in a way that it’s not meant to, you may find yourself waking up with some serious discomfort.

Why the Wrong Sleeping Position Can Cause Pain

Ideally, your spine should be in a neutral position when you sleep, meaning that it is relaxed and aligned. Without proper alignment, certain muscles will underwork themselves, causing others to over-compensate, resulting in the tight, painful feeling you experience throughout your day. 

Sleeping in a poor position for extended periods can create nerve pain, muscle imbalances, and posture issues that are not easily resolved.

Which Sleeping Position is Best for Your Spine?

Back Sleeping

Generally, sleeping on your back is the healthiest position for spinal health. Because your weight is distributed evenly across the largest surface of your body, your spine naturally falls into a neutral position, putting little to no strain on one specific area.

Naturally, everyone’s spine is slightly different, so your back sleeping position may require a little fine-tuning. The Mayo Clinic recommends elevating your knees with a pillow while you sleep to recreate the natural spine curvature that you have while standing.

Side Sleeping

Sleeping on your side is the best alternative if you are unable to sleep on your back. This position still provides adequate support for your neck and upper spine; however, it causes your hips to assume an unnatural position, leading to potential lower back pain. Sleeping with a pillow between your legs is an easy way to counteract this issue and keep your spine aligned.

Side sleepers are encouraged to alternate which side they sleep on each night to prevent muscle imbalances.

Stomach Sleeping

This sleeping position is less than ideal because it puts torsion on the cervical vertebrae and strain on the lumbar spine, typically resulting in pain on one or both sides of the neck and stiffness in the lower back. 

While sleeping face down is not recommended, you may be one of the many people that can only get a comfortable night’s sleep on your stomach. In this case, try placing a pillow under your abdomen. This will help to align your lumbar vertebrae and alleviate at least some of the tension in your lower back.

Spinal Pain Treatment in Irving, Texas

If you’re experiencing persistent pain or muscle stiffness even after making needed adjustments to your sleeping position, it’s best to seek the opinion of an experienced medical professional.

At Spine Health and Wellness, your health and well-being are our top priority. Our team of doctors and chiropractic specialists can help you identify the root causes of your spinal pain and target them with a custom treatment plan tailored to your individual needs.  Click here to schedule an appointment today!

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