Is there a proper position to sleep in? Can sleeping in the wrong position cause back problems?
The answer is, yes, sleeping position is important to spinal health. Probably the best position for the spine is to lie on your side, in a modified fetal position, with the knees drawn up a bit and one pillow to keep the head in line with the spine. If you have ever had low back problems, it helps to place a pillow between your knees. This keeps the pelvis from twisting and helps keep you on your side after falling asleep. If there are any problems in the neck, a flexible pillow which can be "bunched up" under the neck will help support it during the night. There are also special cervical pillows designed to provide neck support, including the "water pillow," which has a small water bladder inside the pillow.
The second best position for sleeping is on the back with one pillow. If there is any weakness in the lower back a large pillow under the knees will help relieve any strain.
The worst position for sleeping is lying on the stomach. This increases the curve in the low back, flattens the natural curve of the upper back, and twists the neck to one side. Eight hours in this position can create neck and back problems, and certainly will perpetuate any that already exist. Unfortunately, stomach sleeping is very hard habit to break. Often, using a special cervical pillow or placing a pillow between the knees will be enough to help break the habit. Some people have gone to drastic measures, such as pinning a sock with a golf ball in it to the front of their pajamas! Whatever it takes, it’s worth it to stop spending one-third of your life in a position which contributes to spinal problems.
If you have any questions about beds, pillows, or sleeping positions, or if you cannot get to sleep in any position due to back pain, consult our office!