New Year, New Sleep Position! How Different Sleep Positions Can Help Prevent Back & Neck Problems

A restful night’s sleep can remedy a whole host of problems. If you suffer from back and / or neck pain though, even climbing into bed can prove its own nightmare. There are though ways in which changing up the way we position ourselves once in bed may be able to alleviate back and / or neck pain woes, or even prevent them. Here’s a look at what they are.


Side Sleeping

Sleeping on one’s side is one of the most commonly favoured ways to sleep. This may be, at least in part, because sleeping on one’s side happens to aid a restful night’s slumber and help to prevent and ease back and neck pain. In fact, a lot of back and neck specialists advise those suffering from back and / or neck pain adopt or at least try to sleep on their side to take some of the literal pressure off our spines. So, if you a stomach or back sleeper, simply rolling onto your side might help. Always remember though, to place a pillow between your thighs when on your side as this simple measure helps to iron out the curve otherwise caused by lying on one’s side and thus correctly align the spine.

For anyone experiencing neck pain, side sleeping is too still possible and can be a perfectly reasonable way to sleep. The trick to side sleeping without further damaging or causing further pain to one’s neck is adequate support. Hence, like those experiencing back pain, neck pain suffers are too advised to place a cushion or pillow between their knees when sleeping in a side position and avoid raising either of their arms above their head, whether slid under their pillow or over it as this can place the neck and shoulder areas under extra pressure and stress.


Supine Sleeping

Supine Sleeping might sound fancy, but in fact it refers simply to lying on one’s back. For some this is the only way to sleep and for many provides a perfectly reasonable and comfortable position in which to sleep. For a minority though, namely those who experience back or neck pain, being unable to nod off except when laid flat, but then experiencing or exacerbating neck or back pain whilst in this position can prove a nightmare when it comes to bedtime. Fortunately, there is an answer.

If you are determined to sleep in a supine position, laid on your back with your legs straight out and your head on a pillow, place a smaller less plump pillow beneath the small of your spine and slip another pillow under your knees. The addition of these two carefully placed pillows can go in some way to rectify the spine’s tendency to arch abnormally due to the effect gravity has on a body when in a supine position. This is especially worth trying for anyone who is suffering with sciatica and may otherwise find it too painful to lie on their back for any prolonged period, if at all.

Supine sleeping also happens to be the best sleeping position for anybody who is experiencing neck pain as sleeping on one’s back is the closest position a person can sleep in to their normal standing posture. That is, supine sleeping best maintains the normal curvature of the spine, preventing those with neck complaints from moving or resting with their head placed in a position which could cause extra stress of pressure on their neck.


Prone Sleeping

Prone sleepers are those prone to sleeping on their stomachs. Whilst this position is not one of the most popular or common, for those who do sleep on their stomachs but are struck down with lower back pain, it can make nodding off all but impossible as lying on one’s stomach, especially whilst resting one’s head on a pillow instead of directly onto a mattress can cause the lower part of the spine to arch inward toward the stomach. This is especially true of those with little body fat or who happen to be very slim as they have less weight and fat about their middle to cushion them. To alleviate any lower back pain this may cause or worsen, one simple strategy is to place a cushion under one’s stomach as doing so prevents the spine from curving abnormally.

Neck pain sufferers are almost always advised to avoid sleeping on their stomachs. Having to turn one’s head so abnormally to the side for hours on end is simply not a good idea for anyone with a neck complaint. Further, for prone sleepers who also place their head on a pillow, their neck is not just turned to one side, but they are too experiencing the pull of said gravity whilst the pillow is pushing back. That said, if you simply cannot sleep in any other position but suffer neck pain, you may find it is somewhat alleviated by placing a pillow under your stomach and additionally investing in a thin, but supportive pillow to support your head and neck.