When you go to sleep at night, you are giving your muscles and joints a necessary opportunity to rest and recharge. But if you find that you are frequently sleeping in a bad or uncomfortable position, you could end up doing your back more harm than good. This can be especially true for the cervical (neck) region of the spine. It’s doesn’t sound comfortable (and really, it’s not) but technically sleeping without a pillow is what’s best for your back. Most people aren’t likely to go for that option, though — so here’s what you can do to get a better night’s sleep and wake up with less pain.
Check Your Pillow and Mattress
If you are sleeping on an old pillow or mattress, you could be putting your back under significant strain. If you aren’t properly cushioned and supported, you could be putting pressure on the pressure points in your neck and back, which could be contributing to your pain issues. As a rule of thumb, mattresses are really not expected to last more than 10 years — if your mattress remembers the ’90s, it definitely has to go.
You should also be using a pillow that helps you maintain a good sleeping position for your neck. If you frequently sleep on your side with your shoulder behind you or on your stomach with your neck bent, you are putting a substantial strain on the muscles in your neck. A more supportive pillow, like an orthopedic pillow, may be better for your neck. Another option is to use a small pillow or a rolled towel placed between your chin and shoulder to help support your neck.
Check Your Sleeping Position
Generally, the best sleeping position for neck and back health is sleeping on your back. That said, if you’re in pain, it might not feel great (there’s a reason why people experiencing chronic back pain will often turn to sleeping in a recliner). Instead of heading to the living room at night, call the Spine Institute Northwest to set up a free consultation to get to the bottom of your back pain.
In the meantime though, you can use small bolster pillows or rolled towels to help your body maintain a natural posture while you sleep on your back. After all, we aren’t built perfectly flat and straight — trying to sleep flat on your back can place too much pressure on your spine. Place pillows or towels between your neck and shoulders, at the small of your back, and under your knees. This creates more of a “recliner” position in your bed, and reduces the pressure on your spine and joints.
If you’re a side sleeper, you can stay more comfortable if you sleep with a pillow between your knees. If it tends to slip, spooning with a body pillow is a cozy option. This will help you maintain a comfortable position for your hips, which will in turn support your back position.
If back pain is the first thing you think about when you wake up, it’s time to stop hitting snooze and take action! Call the Spine Institute Northwest today at 206-496-0630 to find out more about how we can help you get back your life.