Should I sleep on my belly, side, or back? Let's look at each position individually.
Should I sleep on my belly? NO! For spinal health sleeping on your belly is by far the worst. When you sleep on your belly you will have to turn your head left or right in order to breathe. When you are stuck in this position for 8 hours it puts an uneven strain on the tendons, ligaments, and muscles surrounding the neck and upper back. Sometimes this strain can also lead to morning headaches. This may not bother you each morning, but over time the tissues will start to adapt and it may be hard to turn your head one way versus the other. For stomach sleepers, if a thick pillow is used the joints of the cervical spine (in the neck) may get pinched as well, leading to sharp pain emanating from the joints.
Is back or side sleeping better? Sleeping on your back can be a great way to sleep for spinal health. It’s easiest to maintain spinal alignment while sleeping on your back. Usually a firmer mattress is best for back sleepers so that the spine doesn’t sink into the mattress much and the joints can stay in a neutral position.
Side sleepers often do well with spinal alignment as long as a quality mattress and pillow are utilized. Check out some good tips and reviews on mattresses and pillows. Medium to medium-firm mattresses are typically the most comfortable for side sleepers. The hips and shoulders have to comfortably depress the mattress, so people with wider hips usually enjoy mattresses with a little more give, while people with narrow hips fair better on mattresses that have less give. Having the right pillow can make all the difference for a side sleeper as well. Most side sleepers don’t have enough volume and support in an average pillow. This can make for improper alignment of the neck and shoulders. Additionally, a pillow between the knees makes some side sleepers much more comfortable and keeps them on their sides without twisting and potentially rolling into a prone position (face down).
The image below shows poor alignment due to the wrong mattress and pillow combination.
Please be aware that there are certain medical conditions that require a specific sleeping position, so always check with your doctor if you are unsure about the best way to sleep. The advise given here pertains to spinal alignment and prevention of spinal pain and related conditions. If you have back pain or neck pain that is worse in the morning, it may be time for a new mattress or better sleeping position, but first it’s a good idea to get a chiropractic evaluation and find out if something else is causing the back or neck pain.
Kauffman Chiropractic is your source for health and wellness. If you have been searching for a licensed chiropractor near Loveland Ohio, Mason Ohio, Madeira Ohio, or the greater Cincinnati area you have come to the right place. Please call our Loveland Ohio Chiropractic office at (513) 444-4529 for your appointment.