Have you ever wondered if you’re hurting or helping yourself by the way you’re sleeping? At Canberra Spine Centre, our patients often ask us about the right way to sleep.
In this article, you’ll learn the best and worst positions you can sleep in, and the effect this has on your spine, nervous system and health.
Let’s start with the ‘best’ positions. When you adopt one of the these, you will be placing your spine in a position that causes the least amount of stress and strain on a nightly basis.
Remember, your spine protects your nervous system – the controlling and coordinating system of your whole body!
When you do something to look after your spine, you will create a positive influence on many aspects of your health by having a nervous system that works better!
Back Sleeping with Knee Support
The next time when you sleep on your back, place a small pillow beneath your knees as a support to help maintain a natural curve of the spine.
This position allows an even distribution of body weight therefore ensuring good alignment of the head, neck and spine.
To do so, you should lie flat on your back without twisting the head to either sides. Place a thin pillow – ideally one with a contour that follows the natural curve of the neck – under the head and neck. Then add another small pillow under the knees.
Side Sleeping with a Pillow Between the Knee
Sleeping on the side is by far the most common sleeping position. By positioning a pillow between the knees, it raises the upper leg hence restoring the normal alignment of the pelvis, the sacrum and the rest of spine.
To do so, lie on the side you are comfortable with, then place a pillow of the right thickness under your head and neck.
If your pillow is too thick, your head will be positioned too high, placing strain on your spine and nervous system. Too thin, and the opposite occurs.
Foetal Sleeping Position
A sleeping position that resembles a baby sleeping is very beneficial for people with disc injury such as herniated discs.
By lying on the side with knees tucked into the chest, it opens the joints at the back of spinal bones.
It relieves the pressure on the disc, therefore less nerve irritation that causes back pain.
Now for the worst. Why talk about these? Well, maybe you’re doing this already.
If you understand why this is causing stress and strain, and the fact that it’s harming your nervous system – the very system that controls every aspect of your health – you are more likely to change your behaviour.
Stomach Sleeping (Freefall) Position
Sleeping on your stomach (face down) puts most of your body weight at your chest and abdominal area.
This causes your core to sink deeper into the mattress while your limbs and head stay higher up on the surface, distorting your natural spinal alignment and causing spine and nervous system damage which often surfaces as neck and back pain.
Also, the pressure of your body increases the pressure on your muscles, joints, and organs.
As a result, you will be constantly shifting position during sleep to stay comfortable, leading to more disturbed, lower-quality sleep.
If you’re overweight or sleeping on a soft mattress, all these negative impacts will be intensified.
Lack of sleep is one of the major drivers of poor health in modern society.
It produces, among other things, a ‘stress response’ that shifts your physiology from one of rest/repair/regeneration to that of fight/flight – not good for long-term health!
To ensure maximum comfort and less pain during sleep, having a spine and nervous system working properly will certainly help.
As chiropractors at Canberra Spine Centre, we help people every day to achieve better sleep quality.
If you’re concerned about poor sleep due to discomfort or other factors, please call us on (02) 6257 9400.
If you would like some more information about the spine and nervous system and how it relates to your health, please check out the other articles on our Facebook page or go to our website: www.spinecentre.com.au