How Do You Sleep?
Having proper and enough sleep is a huge factor in living a healthy lifestyle. Achieving good sleep and rest allows the body to rejuvenate and heal. Waking up from sleep, sometimes individuals are awaken with neck pain, low back pain, joint pain and muscle aches or a combination of. People usually don’t relate these pains to their sleeping positions and tendencies during sleep. Sleeping in somewhat ideally “bad” positions could possibly be the main reasons to having sleep problems. The type of mattress and pillow is a factor to highly address also.
Most common sleeping positions:
Prone position, stomach sleeping or “The Freefaller” – Probably the worst way to fall asleep. This position places the lower back (lumbar) area into an excessive anterior tilt and which causes tension to the lower spine, sacral and mid spine area. Usually neck is also turned to a favored side with arms up and places asymmetric tension to cervical muscles, shoulders, upper rib cage and clavicle area. As for the lower extremities, feet are placed in plantar flexion (toes pointing down) position and calves usually in a shortened position, which tightens the calves over time.
Foetus position – According to sources is the most common sleeping position. This position places the hip flexors in a shortened position for long periods. This position also affects the lower back as the sacrum is tucked under and flattens the lumbar spine causing tension and stress on the lower back muscles. With NO supporting pillows in between the knees and arms, causes the top hip and shoulder to lay in a misaligned position and may cause imbalances. The top shoulder also may be placed in a shrugged position causing shortening of those muscles and with time may result in neck issues.
Log position – This position depends on the firmness of the mattress and quality of pillow. Unlike foetus position, lower extremities are extended but with NO pillow support, again TOP hip may be placed in a “hiked hip” position causing those lower back muscles on that side to shorten and results in imbalanced hips. Top shoulder may also be placed in the shrugged position causing shortening of the neck muscles on that side. Bottom arm is slept on, which may possibly cause shoulder issues with time and circulation problems. Asymmetric problems may be a result when sleeping in this position.
Considered Healthy Sleeping Positions:
Supine position – Sleeping on your back is probably the best position to sleep in. When sleeping on your back place a medium sized pillow under knees to support and promote normal curvature of lower back. Height of neck/head pillow should not be too thick where it may place your neck in flexion but just right to where it keeps the cervical spine aligned. You may also want to try a rolled towel under the neck to promote normal curvature of the cervical spine. Upper extremities should be placed on the side or crossed on abdomen to maintain cervical muscles and prevent shortening.
Side-lying position – Side lying position with pillow supports is second best. Unlike foetus position and log position, place a pillow in between the knees to keep hips symmetric and spine aligned. Top arm should be placed on the side of the body and rested to prevent shrugging of the upper shoulder and shortened neck muscles. Having a medium to firm mattress is best desired, but not too firm.
Sleeping positions are also routine to the human body. Most commonly the body, muscles, joints and spine are educated subconsciously, with time, to lay in the same position during sleep or at rest. Here at Oahu Spine and Rehab we assist individuals in gaining back their well-deserved sleep with NO accompanying physical issues. Our staff will work with you in re-educating your body to keep aligned during sleep. Here at OSR in Kailua we strategize and send patients home with suggestions, tips and a program to assist in re-training the body to rest in a healthy sleeping position.