What are the best sleep positions? How am I supposed to sleep?

These are some of the question that we get on a daily basis. Most often people do not realize that they spend a third of their lives (or at least should be) in bed. Regardless of how you sleep, you need a good pillow! This means that your neck should be in a neutral position. Your chin should have no tilt and there should be no neck twisting.

I sleep on my back. Is that okay?

Back sleeping is what we recommend, but a lot of times we still need to help people understand how it is done. For example, if your upper back is flat against your bed, but your legs and arms are twisted, this is not ideal. However, if your entire back (mid and lower) are against the bed and your legs are straight, this often means your spine will be in a neutral position which is ideal. In certain situations, we prescribe sleeping rolls which help support your natural lower back curve. You can also place a pillow underneath your knees to help support your low back curve. Your chin should be straight. If your pillow is too high, your chin will point down. Alternatively, if your pillow is too low, your chin will tilt up. Make sure this is adjusted. Back sleeping is what is highly recommend for people with lower back issues.

What about side sleeping?

Side sleeping is also good when done correctly. The most important aspect of side sleeping is one’s neck position. If you are curled up in a little ball and your neck and arms are twisted underneath your pillow, this is not good! Your neck should be straight from the side. This means if your pillow is too high, your neck will be slanted on the side (C shape) and if your pillow is too low, your neck will be tilted down (backwards C). This puts a tremendous amount of stress on your neck vertebrae which can result in misalignments in your neck curve. Yikes! This makes one prone to neck pain, headaches, inability to sleep, etc. Your shoulders should be stacked across one another. Your upper body should not be tilted and your legs should also be stacked. We usually recommend bending your knees and even putting a pillow in between. This is essentially the fetal position which is great for sciatica type of symptoms.

So what does this mean for stomach sleepers?

You need to stop stomach sleeping right now! Think about the way you sleep on your stomach. Now imagine spending your entire day in that position. You cannot do that! Stomach sleeping places the most amount of stress on your spine! Usually stomach sleepers have one knee up and have a twist throughout the spine. Again, we want to avoid this as this predisposes one to many spinal misalignments. More misalignments usually means more symptoms. You think you cannot stop sleeping on your stomach? Try this. Tape some tennis balls onto your shoulders so every time you turn over onto your stomach, the tennis balls wake you up. Such a simple idea 🙂

For those who are WTW members, please feel free to book a pillow/sleeping posture check for an upcoming appointment.

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What are the best sleep positions? How am I supposed to sleep? These are some of the question that we get on a daily basis. Most often people do not realize that they spend a third of their lives (or at least should be) in bed. Regardless of how you sleep, you need a good […]

This guest post is written by Erik Smith, who will be studying Human Kinetics/Biology at the University of Guelph this year. His goal is to become a chiropractor like his father, Dr. Phil Smith. Better performance. It is something that every athlete wants to achieve regardless of his or her sport, age, lifestyle or league. […]