Did you know that sleeping can effect your joint health? If you have ever woken up with a kink in your neck or low back pain from sleeping wrong, you already know how sleep can effect your joints and muscles.
“Sleep ergonomics” refers to our postures and positions during sleep. They either help us rest in safe mechanical positions for joints or they stress joints to the point that we wake up with more aches and pains than we fell asleep with. Sleeping position matters. Poor-quality sleep is proven to negatively affect overall health.
You can take the strain off of your neck and back just by switching your sleeping position.
Side sleeping is the healthiest position with a pillow between your legs to help alignment of your spine. It is more preferred to sleep with one pillow under your head so that your neck is not tilted upwards. The more you can keep your spine straight horizontally, the less strain is put on your joints, muscles and ligaments. Also, if possible, try not to sleep directly on your shoulder or arm, as this can cause a decrease in circulation and results in a pins-and-needles sensation.
Sleeping on your back can put strain on your low back, so placing a pillow under your knees can help relieve that. You can also place a small, rolled up towel under your lumbar spine for added support.
*Pregnant women should avoid sleeping on their backs as this can cause backaches as well as other health concerns. A sleeping bean pillow is designed to help pregnant women sleep more comfortably on their side.*
Sleeping on your stomach creates the most strain on your neck and back. In this position your neck undergoes considerable strain, which can cause nerve compression, muscular imbalance and muscle pain. If you cannot sleep in any other position, you can put a pillow under your lower abdomen and pelvis to help alleviate strain and try sleeping without a pillow under your head.
The best mattresses are designed to conform to the spine's natural curves and keep the spine in alignment. Remember to turn your mattress over every few months. If possible, replace the mattress after five to seven years of regular use. If you feel springs or bumps beneath the surface when you're lying on the bed, or you and your partner unintentionally roll toward the middle of the bed, it's time to go shopping for a new mattress. Mattresses can be very expensive and it is hard to choose the right one, but there are now multiple companies that will send you a mattress to try for up to 100 days and if you are not satisfied, you can send it back and get your money back.
A healthful pillow is designed to keep the spine in natural alignment, which minimizes stress on the body. Most people do not maintain neutral positions while they sleep. This creates tension at problem spots like the neck and the lower back, resulting in pain in either or both of these areas.
A pillow of the wrong size can cause or aggravate neck and shoulder problems. When you sleep on your side, the pillow should fill the space between the head and mattress so that the cervical spine is in line with, and an extension of, the spine. The pillow should support the head, neck and shoulders and adapt to the contours of these areas. This will optimize your sleeping position throughout the night.
Contact us today if you have questions about your sleeping position or are experiencing any pain you associate to sleeping.
1. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.
2. Verhaert et al. Ergonomics in bed design: the effect of spinal alignment on sleep parameters. Ergonomics. 2011 54(2):169-78.