It’s been long known that pain can affect your sleep, but did you know that your sleep ergonomics can make your pain worse, too? This may seem obvious to anyone who’s ever tried to sleep on an airplane or a too-soft guest bed, but it may not be readily apparent if you’re used to your own cozy bed.
Most people with back and neck pain understand that the type of mattress you sleep on (and the age of the mattress) can have an impact on how much pain you wake up with. Fewer people are aware that the position you sleep in can make a difference, as well.
Are you looking for Argyle TX chiropractic care? If your back or body pain is not responding to traditional medical interventions, Dr. Cody Doyle may be able to help you. Call our office at 817-767-5430 to make an appointment.
If you have back pain, there are few things you can do to help make sure you are keeping your spine properly aligned when you sleep.
Do not tuck your chin. It may seem natural to “go fetal” when you are feeling cold in bed, but tucking your chin downward elongates the back of the neck. A more ideal placement is to keep your chin up, at the same angle as you use when standing and looking into a mirror. If your pillow is too high, this can also cause you to tuck your chin, so pay attention to how you wake in the morning. You may need a lower pillow if you frequently wake up with your chin tucked.
Side sleeper? Use a pillow between the knees. When you lie on your side, the upper knee has a tendency to want to make contact with the bed. This shifts the hip and pulls the lumbar spine out of proper alignment. If you sleep with your knees separated this way, and you are more likely to wake up with lower back pain. It’s always better to sleep with the knees stacked one on top of the other. If this is not comfortable, use a pillow or blanket between the knees to keep your spine straight.
Sleep on your back to reduce pain. The most common recommendation for back pain is to sleep flat on your back. It’s simply easier to keep the spine straight when lying flat this way. If back sleeping is not comfortable, you may need to find a small pillow to put either (1) under the knees, or (2) under the small of your back. Try those two suggestions before you give up and give in to the desire to switch back to stomach- or side-sleeping.
Pick your pillow with care. A nice thing about buying new pillows these days is that rather than indicating “soft, medium, or firm,” the packaging suggests that the pillow is best for side sleepers, back sleepers, or stomach sleepers. If you’ve had the same pillow for many years, it’s definitely time to pick out a new one! Pillows should be replaced every six months, except for some gel or foam pillows that can last up to two years. Having a “fresh” pillow that is made for your sleep position can help make sure you hold your head and neck in an ideal placement when you sleep.
Avoid stomach-sleeping, if possible. Stomach sleeping tends to be the worst position for spinal alignment. Depending on the type of pillow and mattress you use, it may make you more at risk of compressing the lower back or elongating the neck. At the very least, stomach sleeping causes you to have the head turned to either the right or the left for hours at a time, which isn’t good.
Many people are able to change their preferred sleep position with a little bit of effort. If back and neck pain are something you struggle with, training yourself to sleep on your back may make a big difference.
If you need Argyle TX chiropractic care, Dr. Cody Doyle can help! Call our Roanoke-based office at 817-767-5430 to make an appointment.