Proper Sleeping Positions
It’s not uncommon for people to wake up with discomfort in their neck or back. Sleeping is the time for our bodies and brains to rest and “reset.” It’s unfortunate that many people wake up in pain. Below are some tips to help you find a comfortable, biomechanically correct posture while sleeping.
Avoid Sleeping on your Stomach!
It puts too much torque on your neck and upper back. For those stomach sleepers out there, I know it’s tough to hear. I used to love falling asleep on my stomach. It took a few months but I was finally able to change my sleep position and find it more comfortable over time.
Sleeping on your Back or Side is Ideal!
When thinking about sleeping posture, imagine what you’d look like if you stood up in your sleep position. Is your head jutting forward, is your back overly curved, are you leaning? If you’re bending your hips in side position, are your knees slightly bent or tucked too close to your chest? Try to emulate proper standing posture in your sleep. Recognize that it won’t be perfect but just try to get as close as you can.
Start Slowly…There’s no Rush
It takes time to change your sleep positions. Lower your expectations and just START each night on your side or back. Of course you’ll likely roll into a less-desirable position. But if you start each night correctly, you’ll slowly retrain yourself to sleep thru the night with better posture.
Tips to Stay in a Proper Sleeping Position
For your body, pillows are your friend. If sleeping on your back, put pillows next to your thighs to make it more difficult to roll over. If on your side, put a pillow behind your back. Then, it will be waiting for you if you roll over to your side.
When sleeping on your back, use a very thin pillow to support your neck. I often use a thin pillow and roll up the edge to fit the curve of my neck. You can also use a small hand towl rolled to fit under your neck. Try not to lift your head too far off the bed with a pillow as that’s not a healthy position for your neck.
When sleeping on your side, your pillow should keep your head in a neutral position. It should fit in the distance between your ear and your shoulder when supporting the weight of your head. Try to avoid curling your head too far forward as that’s not as supportive for your spine & neck. Use a pillow between your knees to keep your top hip level with the ground.
Firm Beds are Best
Be sure to sleep on a firm to medium firm bed. Soft beds don’t support your bodyweight well and they can alter the curves in your spine.
Show me Pictures
To see images of proper sleep positions, check out our stretching page and download the “Proper Sleep Positions” pdf.