At Alive Chiropractic, people ask us every day the best way to sleep. Individual patterns vary of course, but we humans will spend upwards of one-third of our entire lives sleeping. For centuries, sleep wasn’t very well understood. We assumed it to be simply downtime when the brain had shut off and the body was at rest. In recent decades, however, we have gained an important new understanding of the complexity of sleep, and its vital importance to good health!
Sleep in the position that is most comfortable for your own relaxation, while not contributing to spinal problems! Sleeping on your back is one of the least stressful positions and is recommended for proper spinal alignment. Alternatively, you can sleep on your side with your knees bent. However, keep in mind that it is essential to use enough pillows to prop up your head so that it is level with the rest of your spine. Sleeping on your side may also reduce the possibility of snoring. This position is usually suggested for those with low-back conditions and expectant mothers because it enhances relaxation, especially to the lower back. One may also find it helpful to place another pillow between the knees for maximum relaxation!
Try to avoid sleeping on your stomach. If you do, your face is forced to turn to either the extreme right or left in order to breathe. This may cause stress in the neck, as well as stretching and/or shortening the muscles on either side of the spine. Stomach sleeping may also cause the rib cage to shift due to the body weight on the chest. This contributes to stress in the lower back, extending into the hips, legs and feet. Symptoms of stomach sleeping may include neck and shoulder stiffness, wry neck, and morning headaches.
The most important thing about choosing a pillow and mattress is support. A good pillow and mattress should support the spine and help mimic the shape of your spine while you stand. A very hard pillow and mattress can be uncomfortable because it can force the spine to arch or bow instead of relax as the body relaxes. It can also create painful pressure at the shoulders and hips where body weight concentrates during sleep.
A very soft pillow and mattress lacks support, letting the spine sag and placing stress on the muscles. If you sleep on your back, avoid thick pillows under your head that can force the head forward and place stress on the upper back and neck. Over a period of time, this persistent forward pressure may affect the normal curvature of the upper back and neck, leading to possible misalignments and a wide range of health problems.
Overall, finding a pillow and mattress combination that is firm and keeps your spine neutral, whether you sleep on you side or your back, is the best choice! Additionally, the majority of patients at Alive Chiropractic report sleeping better even after their first adjustment! Click here to book your first visit with us today!