If you are suffering from neck or back pain, have you asked yourself "how am I sleeping?" When you sleep, your body should sustain a relaxed position for 7-8 hours and your spine should be in a "neutral" position. This means, your spine should be straight and not be in any side bending or rotated positions. This allows your musculature to relax and your nervous system to function optimally during sleeping.
Let's think about this, if you sleep on your stomach, your head is twisted to the side, one leg may be up by your side or your arm tucked underneath your body. This is not an optimal position for your spine and muscles to remain relaxed and in line. The spinal nerves that reach the all of your limbs, vital organ, and cell exit your spinal column between your vertebrae. It's important for there not to be interference with the nerve flow as you are sleeping, as sleep is the time for your tissues to heal!
So what can you do to get a better nights sleep?
1. Ditch the second pillow. One pillow underneath your head is more than enough support, any more pillows can flex your neck to a side position and cause spinal misalignment, tight muscles, and pain.
2. Choose the right mattress! For neck pain, choose a mattress that is plush and offers a little give. For low back pain, a more supportive mattress is key, as you don't want your back to sag down and your spine to be contorted. A foam style mattress that conforms gentle to your spine allows firmness as well as support for a straight spine. A foam mattress with coil springs and a good box spring can also provide the support you need. A mattress that is too soft or hard can produce pain.
3. Use a pillow between your knees. This allows the hips to be in a neutral position, especially for women with curves. It can take pressure off the joints of the low back.
4. Sleep on your back or side. Stomach sleeping is never a good idea! The spine and surrounding musculature cannot relaxed in this hyper extended position and can often increase symptoms.
5. Use a cervical pillow. A pillow that is curved to support the natural curvature of your neck.
6. Substitute a rolled up towel for a pillow for neck pain. Take a hand towel folded in half and roll it up. Place the towel underneath the curvature of your neck above the shoulders.
Remember, how we sleep can affect our entire health! If we are not sleeping well, our body isn't rejuvenating our cells and healing itself. A solid nights sleep is just as important as any other treatment you can receive.
For more specific questions, call your Chiropractic Physician.