If You Sleep This Way, You Could Be Hurting Your Spine
If you’re waking up in pain that you don’t feel during the day, then your sleep position is likely playing a role.
Where sleep posture plays a role in back pain is the neutral spine. If you’re not positioned in a way that keeps your spine aligned and relaxed, you may be putting excess weight or strain on different parts of the back.
If you have neck pain, stiffness, or soreness when you wake up in the morning, consider:
- Sleep posture. Sleeping on your stomach with your head twisted to one side is a recipe for neck strain. But sleeping in any position can be a problem if your neck isn’t sufficiently supported.
- Pillow choice. If your pillow is too high or too low, too firm or too soft, your head will bend away from the neutral spine position. Finding the right pillow can be difficult. Some people prefer memory foam because it molds to the head and neck, providing support where you need it most.
- Weak or tight muscles. If you don’t stretch often or if you keep your shoulders and head in a fixed, unnatural position during the day, you may may be bringing that stress to bed at night. Stretching, strengthening, and massage may help you to re-balance your body and loosen up in the neck and shoulders. It’s difficult to achieve a neutral spine in sleep if you can’t achieve it when you’re awake.
- Other issues.Neck pain can also be caused by other orthopedic conditions like a muscle strain, osteoarthritis of the cervical spine, or a slipped disc. Seeing an orthopedic physician can help to determine whether you have another issue that may be contributing to a pain flare-up when you sleep.
When you are asleep, your body is at rest. Your spine and other joints are not bearing any weight. This should not cause pain. If you have back pain when you sleep (most commonly, lower back pain), chances are it’s caused by something other than your sleep posture. You may have an underlying issue like osteoarthritis of the spine, a slipped or herniated disc, sciatica,
For most people, though, daytime posture and lifestyle is a huge contributor. Back strains from carrying heavy objects, for example, can strain muscles and ligaments. Holding an awkward body position when driving, sitting at a desk, or standing and walking can also lead to muscle tension or weakness on one side of the body.
As with neck pain, it’s important to sleep in an optimal position — but also to choose the right mattress and the right pillow, and to use extra pillows or bolsters if necessary.
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