Sleeping positions to ease back pain

There is nothing worse than waking up in the night or not being able to fall asleep due to throbbing back pain.

For more than 50% of Kiwis back pain is a significant problem.

If you are one of them, a key thing to think about is the mattress you are sleeping on. The perfect bed for you should provide correct postural alignment as well as heavenly comfort. It should support your whole body, without a single pressure point.

NZCA Chiropractor Dr Cassandra Fairest says: “A good mattress and quality pillows are vital for spinal health. Before buying your bed or pillow spend as much time as possible in store trying it before you buy it. Your spine should be parallel to the mattress and your neck should be in a neutral position when lying on your side.”

You can also think about how you position yourself in bed and make adjustments to support your back better.

Sleep Positions:

Sleeping on your front: Many stomach sleepers experience some type of pain. Whether it is in the neck, back, or joints, this pain can affect how much sleep you get. More pain means you are more likely to wake up during the night and feel less rested in the morning. This position causes your back to flex unnaturally and strains your spine and ligaments which makes it difficult to maintain a neutral position when you are sleeping. If you really can’t sleep any other way, place a pillow underneath your chest, which will help reduce the strain on your back.

Sleeping on your side: The most common sleeping position is on your side. A common pitfall in this curled up position is to twist your body so that your legs can rest side by side on the mattress, rather than on top of each other. This strains your spine. Lie on your side and put a slight bend in your knees, stacking your hips in a straight line (letting your top hip flop forward will rotate your lumbar spine, fuelling more pain). Place a firm pillow or two in between your knees so your legs are propped about hip-width apart. Your arms can relax out in front of you. If this feels funny at first, don’t give up. Sleeping with extra padding takes practice, but your back will thank you for it.

Sleeping on your back: Sleeping on your back makes it easier for our head, neck, and spine to align and keep in in a neutral position which means no extra pressure or curves are being added to the back. Place a pillow under your knees to help maintain the normal curve of your lower back. You can also try placing a small rolled towel or a pillow under the small of your back for additional support.

Sleeping with the correct pillow: It’s important to invest in a quality pillow that supports how you sleep. Your pillow can significantly impact your spinal alignment when you are sleeping.

Adjusting your sleeping position may be hard to get used to at first, but after a couple of nights, you will be sleeping better and waking up pain-free. 

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