Treating your spine right can help you sleep pain-free and wake up refreshed. See our seven secrets for sleeping well!
Proper rest can have a positive impact on your entire day. We spend about one-third of our lives sleeping, and about one-third of us have trouble getting a good night’s sleep. Treating your spine right can help you sleep pain-free and wake up refreshed. Here are seven secrets for sleeping well.
1. Sleep on your back
The best alignment for your spine comes from sleeping on your back, with a supportive, yet responsive pillow under your head and one tucked under your knees. Your head position should be aligned with your spine, directly between your shoulders. You’ll find that back-sleeping also supports your easiest breathing.
If you experience acid reflux, you may be tempted to elevate your head with an extra pillow or two. While raising your upper body and head higher than your stomach may alleviate heartburn symptoms, it will also leave you with a serious crick in your neck the next morning. A better solution is to invest in a proper pillow and check your sleep position to keep your spine aligned. For extra support, you can cozy up with flatter pillows under your arms. An added bonus: sleeping on your back helps avoid facial wrinkles for beauty sleep at its best!
2. Side-sleep with a body pillow
Unfortunately, most of us tend to be side-sleepers, which aggravates pressure points. Pain in the legs and back is common among side-sleepers because of a lack of support. When you sleep on your side, the lower half of your body is supporting the weight of your opposite side. When it comes to your hips and legs, your body takes on a buckled-leg stance all night which is bad for your joints. The best solution is to hug a body pillow.
Wrapping yourself around this long pillow straightens your hips into healthy spinal alignment, reducing pressure on your shoulders, back and throughout your body. Something so simple can offer near-instant pressure relief to help you get a great night’s sleep.
3. Which side? Sleep on your left side
If you can’t fall asleep on your back, which side should you sleep on? Does it really matter? The answer is yes. It’s better to sleep on your left side because of the placement of your organs. Your stomach’s natural position is on your left side; this allows your stomach to more effectively digest food and move it along.
However, if you sleep on the right side, your late-night snack works against gravity and hinders digestion. This position is also why heartburn can be common. Changing over to your left side promotes healthy blood flow and has cascading effects on your digestive system, including decreased heartburn and acid reflux symptoms.
4. Choose a supportive pillow for your head
Back-sleepers need a pillow that cradles the head and aligns the neck and spine. Side-sleeping patients ask how to sleep on your side without hurting your shoulder, and the answer involves your pillow as much as your mattress. Proper pillow position, firmness and height help side-sleepers to achieve that Goldilocks zone of spinal alignment.
When you side-sleep, your head tends to fall toward your shoulder and the bed. If you don’t have a side-sleeping pillow, your head will fall too far and bend your neck and upper spine out of alignment. This can also cause neck, shoulder and even jaw pain after sleeping on your side.
5. Don’t sleep on your arm
One of the favorite positions of many side-sleepers is the classic “arm under pillow” position. It may feel oh-so-right, but it’s oh-so-wrong. Sleeping on your arm can cause pain and numbness in the arm and shoulder. It can also misalign your head and neck from your spine, resulting in further discomfort.
If you often sleep on your arm and suffer from hands falling asleep or arm pain, the problem is probably your pillow. If you have a flat pillow and your head sinks too far down, your natural reaction is to prop it up with your arm. Unfortunately, your arm just doesn’t do the trick, and it can make things worse. It might be time to get a new pillow.
6. Do morning stretches
Side-sleeping is the most common sleep position because it reminds us of our days in the womb. While many side-sleepers don’t assume the classic fetal position, there is still a tendency to round your back and shoulders and curl up – especially on cold nights. This can leave your joints and muscles feeling a bit achy if you don’t properly stretch them out after eight hours of self-snuggling.
If you deal with pain during the day from sleeping on your side, do a few stretches in the morning. Stretch your shoulder backward while on your side to unwind your spine. Don’t forget to stretch on both sides. Remember to stretch your arms, too. If you have arm pain from sleeping on your side, it probably has to do with the way your weight is distributed. Extra stretching will get the blood flowing and help loosen your joints.
7. Don’t sleep on your stomach
The sleep position that gets a total thumbs-down from your chiropractor is stomach-sleeping because it places so much stress on your neck, shoulders and spine. It can also be hard to breathe properly. First, try sleeping on your back, and if you must side-sleep, follow our tips for best alignment and comfort.
A better night’s sleep may just mean a better day tomorrow, so remember these seven secrets and share them with your friends and family. Questions about the proper pillow, sleep position and spinal alignment? Your Bronston Clinic can help.
Sources include purple.com/the-side-sleepers-guide-to-sleeping.