For most of us, the hours we spend sleeping are simply a time for rest and recovery. However, you might be surprised to learn that your sleeping position can have a significant impact on your body, particularly if you already have an injury. Here are some tips to help to stay pain free overnight.
Back pain tips:
For sufferers of back pain, finding a comfortable position at night can be difficult. The natural curves of the spine need to be maintained and supported throughout the night. Ideally, your body should be held in a position of minimal stress while sleeping. This means that all your joints and muscles are resting in a neutral position
A mattress that is too soft might feel comfortable to begin with, but over time will let you sink into it too much, meaning the curve of the lower spine will be lost. Waking up with a stiff or sore back could be a sign that you are using the wrong mattress. A mattress that is too firm can also mean your spine is held in a flattened position, which is both uncomfortable during the night and when you wake up.
For many people, sleeping on their side keeps their spine in a more natural alignment than sleeping on their back, especially if they put a pillow between your knees. If you do sleep on your back, placing a pillow under your knees can help to maintain your lumbar spinal curve throughout the night. This can also help to reduce hip and knee pain.
Neck pain tips:
The neck is often the most vulnerable part of the body if your sleeping setup is not ideal. Side sleepers may let their neck fall excessively to the side with a pillow that is too low or have their neck elevated too much by having their pillows too high.
If you find yourself putting your arm under your pillow while you sleep, it is likely that your pillow is too low. Having your shoulder in this position overnight can put unnecessary stress on the structures around the shoulder joint and should be avoided if possible. Stomach sleeping can also put additional pressure on your neck as it is turned to the side for long periods.
Hip pain tip:
Side sleepers often spend their nights with one leg crossed over their body. This can place extra pressure on the structures on the side of the hip, such as tendons and bursa and can impact the health of these tissues as the compression reduces the blood flow to the area. Placing a pillow under your knee while sleeping on your side in this position can help to maintain a neutral alignment of your hip.
Speak to your physiotherapist for more advice on how to improve your sleeping posture and find out if your sleeping setup is right for you.