If you thought good posture was limited to holding yourself upright while standing or finding the correct way to sit at your desk at work, think again! Sleeping in an odd position can leave you with back pain that hampers your daily life. Luckily for you, if you haven’t faced a problem yet, you are likely doing okay with your sleep posture. But if you do have the makings of a spine problem or backache every now and again, it won’t hurt to check what position is best for your back when you catch some shut-eye.
Sleep is meant to help relax you. Not finding the right position or environment to sleep in can really mess with your spine and neck, leaving you in terrible pain. If you’d rather not join the 31 million Americans who complain of lower back pain, it may be time to pay attention to how you are sleeping. The majority of the back problems people face have mechanical origins and aren’t linked to illnesses like inflammatory arthritis. Considering you could spend as much as a third of your day sleeping, there’s potential for doing more to care for your spine when you lie down.1
1. Say No To The Fetal Position And Sleeping On Your Tummy
The fetal position and sleeping on your stomach both have the potential to cause joint or back pain because your spine isn’t neutral. This puts unnecessary pressure on the spine, muscles, hips, and joints.2
2. Lie On Your Back
If you are among the minority (8 percent) that sleep on your back, consider yourself lucky! That’s because this is the optimal position for your spine, keeping the spine, neck, and head resting in a neutral position. So there’s no additional pressure on these parts – great news for anyone hoping to avoid pain.3
3. Pick A Side If You Can’t Lie On The Back
If you can’t manage to sleep on your back, the next best thing is to lie on your side. Unfortunately, just 15 percent of all people sleep this way. Here, too, your spine is elongated, with the legs and torso more or less straight. And that means you are again lining up the spine, so there is minimal pressure on it and less scope for developing neck or back pain.4
4. Choose A Mattress Of Medium Firmness
Even if you do pick the right position to sleep in, you could still end up with a back problem if you’re sleeping on a poorly padded mattress that doesn’t offer support.
When it comes to tackling or preventing back pain associated with sleep posture, there’s no avoiding the question of mattresses. The right or wrong mattress can ease your problem or make it worse. The American Chiropractic Association suggests a mattress of medium firmness that can keep the curving of your spine minimal. This in turn will reduce stress and strain on specific sections of the spine and help you sidestep back pain.5
As many as 63 percent of those with a back problem say that they felt an improvement in their back pain symptoms after they traded in their old mattress for a new one. A cheaper alternative is to add plywood below to firm up an old mattress that isn’t giving your back the support it needs.6
5. Use The Pillow Right
A pillow can actually be a godsend for preventing back pain. For many people, switching to a different sleep position is easier said than done. After all, the position they sleep in is one they have settled into over the years and, like any habit, it can be hard to change. For instance, if you have been a tummy sleeper for decades, it’s tough to switch to sleeping prone on your back overnight! And that’s where a pillow can help ease the pressure on your back. If you favor sleeping on the back, a pillow snuck in below the lower abdomen can align your spine. If you lie on your side and need to further ease pressure on the back, a pillow between your knees will do the trick. Even back sleepers who want to further support their spine can do this by using a pillow below their knees.7
6. Get Out Of Bed Correctly!
One aspect of sleeping and posture we often overlook is the bit where we actually get out of bed. How you sit up and emerge from the lying down position to standing can strain your back if you aren’t careful. Here are some pointers to help you8:
- Be slow and gentle in your movement, avoiding any kind of jerky or rapid motion.
- Roll on to either side and slowly push up with your hands as you swing your legs off the side of the bed.
- Do not bend forward from your waist as you get off the bed because it could injure your back.