Updated: Feb 26
Question: I have been having a difficult time sleeping lately and I frequently wake up sore and achy. Sometimes my neck is sore, but sometimes my lower back bothers me too. I never felt anything like this until a few months ago and it has been getting increasingly worse as time goes on. I do not know whether I need a new mattress or maybe I am sleeping wrong. Do you have any suggestions for me? – Martha C., Cape Coral, Florida
Answer: What is the best way to sleep? Well ideally if you had a hole cut out for your face you could lay on your stomach pretty comfortably and your spine would be happy. Unfortunately, most people do not have beds like that.
So what is the most spine- friendly posture when sleeping? As far as pillows go, the whole goal is to keep your head in a neutral posture, lined up with the rest of your body whether laying on your side or on your back. If the pillow is too thick than it is going to jack your head up, resulting in one side of your neck muscles being stretched and the muscles on the other side being slack, creating an imbalance that you will feel over time. If the pillow is too thin then the reverse will happen, with the muscles being slack on the pillow side and stretched tight on the opposing side, again creating an imbalance…so find a pillow that is just right for YOU, Goldilocks!
What is the best position to sleep? If it is comfortable for you, then side sleeping is the most ideal. First, we want to maintain a space between our knees so that they don't knock together and stress out the hip joints. Laying on your side with your knees slightly bent and a pillow between them is the best choice. Personally I use a body pillow and tuck one end between my knees and hug the other end so that my arms have something to do.
If you prefer to sleep on your back then just keep the tips in mind that have already been discussed as far as pillows and neutral head posture are concerned. You just want something to support the curve of your neck and no more. Slip a cushion underneath your knees to keep them slightly bent and it will take pressure off the muscles and joints of your low back.
Dr. Misty Green is a local Chiropractor serving the Cape Coral/North Fort Myers, Florida area for over 20 years. She can be reached at (239) 772-5777 to schedule an appointment. Check out our website at AskDrMisty.com for short and sweet video health tips.
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