The worst sleeping posture is....STOMACH SLEEPING!
Why do you think sleeping on your stomach is so bad? Take a look at the photo above and see how her neck is turned to the left. Imagine it being turned like that all night, every night, for YEARS! It may be ok to sleep on your stomach once, but the problem lies in doing it over and over, which causes micro-trauma throughout the years. The necks natural curve needs to be supported properly while your sleeping. Not to mention that when you sleep on your stomach, it puts your lower back into a bit of extension (backward bending), which puts a strain on that area as well.
I’ve heard it time and again from patients “…but Dr. Nichole I’ve always slept on my stomach, how am I going to change it now?” I know you’ve always done it, but you HAVE to change NOW! Of course, initially you’ll still wake up on your stomach, but, when you find yourself there, FLIP OVER! Changing a bad habit isn’t always easy, but it’s surely worth it this time around!
Simply sit on the edge of a supportive chair (not your recliner or couch please) and cross one leg over the other. Keeping your back STRAIGHT, lean forward attempting to bring your chest toward the crossed-over leg. Be sure to maintain looking forward and DO NOT ROUND YOUR MIDDLE BACK, as this will do more harm than good! Hold for 10-30 seconds and relax. Perform 5 times on each leg. This can be performed 3+ times daily.
The best sleeping posture is...side sleeping or face up!
So now that you know just how terrible stomach sleeping is for your spine, let’s chat about the BEST sleeping positions for your back. Sleeping face up, with a pillow underneath your knees OR side-lying with a pillow between your knees are the two most ideal positions.
These two positions ensure proper support for the curves in your spine. The pillow between your knees when side-lying ensures that you don’t twist your pelvis, keeping it in proper alignment. I’m sure you’ll wake up and the pillow will sometimes not be there, but it’s best to form a new habit and continue placing it back between your knees, until your body gets used to it. When lying face up, the pillow underneath your knees allows for your lower back not to arch, putting little pressure on the discs and bones in the spine.
When you are side sleeping, you want to ensure you have a proper pillow that supports your neck, so your neck is in a perfect line with your chest bone and with your belly button (see photo below). If you’re looking for the perfect neck pillow, check out our previous post “The Best Pillow for Neck Pain.”
Just a few tips to make falling asleep easier...
Do you sleep all night with the TV on? You MUST break this habit! Not only has research shown that sleeping with the TV on all night prevents you from going into a deep REM sleep (where you get the most rest), but it also makes it difficult to fall back asleep if you happen to wake up in the middle of the night.
Put away your technology at least one hour prior to when you want to BE asleep! The number one thing I tell my patients about ways to easily fall asleep is to get away from your phone! Stop stimulating your brain with Facebook, Instagram, the news or whatever keeps you awake, because this will still be running through your mind at least 60+ minutes after putting it down.
So, there you have it! The BEST and WORST sleeping positions with some extra fun details in between. Follow our recommendations to protect your spine for the future and have a good nights sleep tonight, to ensure a great day tomorrow!