sleeping position neck pain

How your Sleeping Position Affects your Body

Getting enough sleep is essential for your health – but did you know that the positions you lie in as you snooze can also affect your body? Most of us don’t give a second thought to our sleeping position, but because we spend so many hours in bed it can have an impact on overall health and cause certain health issues.

Are you a serial snorer or do you suffer from neck pain? Your chosen sleeping position is probably the culprit. Find out about the common sleeping shapes below and how they can affect your body in different ways.

How Not to Sleep

While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all recommended sleeping position, there is a certain way of sleeping which is known to be a back pain culprit – sleeping on your stomach. Lying down on the front of the body flattens the natural curve of the spine, putting extra strain on back muscles. Additionally, to sleep on your stomach you have to twist your neck one way or another. This rotation can cause pain in the neck and shoulders. If you find this is the only comfortable position you can fall asleep in, prop a pillow under your pelvis to give some back support.

On your back

Sleeping on your back is great for the spine, but it’s probably not great for the person you’re lying next to. Lying in a flat, neutral position is recommended for anybody with back or neck issues, but it can also lead to snoring. If snoring is becoming an issue, there are various ways to combat it, from special pillows to nasal strips.

On your side

A side sleeping position is one of the most common. It can stop you snoring, and is the safest position for pregnant women to sleep in. Moreover, sleeping on your side can reduce your chances of developing neck or back pain as the neck doesn’t twist. It’s thought that sleeping on your right side is less preferable than the left, as it causes acid to pool in the stomach which leads to heartburn.

On your stomach

Did you know that sleeping on your stomach is one of the most well-known causes of back pain and neck issues? It may feel comfy at first, but staying in this position for too long can cause back problems because the neck is forced to rotate. Sleeping on your front regularly can have a negative effect on the spine, so try and sleep in an alternative position.

Sleeping Support

It’s better to sleep on your back or the side of your body, but even these positions can sometimes aggravate back pain. Side sleepers should place a pillow in-between their legs and draw knees into the chest. This position can rotate the spine as you snooze, as the top leg can fall forwards and the top shoulder can droop forwards too, pulling muscles in different directions.

To protect your back when sleeping on your back, use a pillow under your knees – this can help your spine maintain its natural curve.

Find your Own Comfort

It’s a vicious cycle – poor sleep can lead to back pain, then you can’t get to sleep because of the discomfort, and you’re not comfortable in the recommended sleeping positions for back pain. It can be so frustrating! Do whatever you can to make yourself comfortable, including trying out new mattresses and pillows. They can make a huge difference, and you could also try using calming sounds to drift off to sleep.

If you’re having trouble sleeping because of your back pain, see your GP or a chiropractor.

Lying in an awkward position can put pressure on certain parts of your body and have an impact on circulation. Ever woke up with pins and needles in the night? That’s your body’s way of saying change position! Some sleep positions can cause or aggravate health issues.

If you struggle with neck pain or back pain, see one of our chiropractors to discover what treatment could help. The first thing to do is check how you are sleeping and see whether changing positions could provide some relief.

David Phillips

David Phillips BSc (Hons) Chiropractic, DC, LRCC Chiropractor. vid has been qualified since 2002 and has been in continuous private practice since then in London. He is a member of the British Chiropractic Association, registered with the General Chiropractic Council, is a Licentiate of the Royal College of Chiropractors and is widely recognised by health insurance companies.
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  1. […] why it’s so important to not only sleep in the correct position to minimise back pain, but also to choose a mattress that’s right for you. With so many options […]

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