We don’t often think about our spines when we’re lying in bed. But our sleep posture can determine our spine wellness – and whether or not we experience back pain. So when we turn in for the night, it’s wise to remember these tips from the Cleveland Clinic Center for Spine Health:
Keep your spine in a neutral position
You can accomplish this by changing from an innerspring mattress (shown below) to a foam mattress, altering your sleep position or using pillows.
Sleep on your back or side
This places less pressure on your back than sleeping on your stomach. That’s because your weight is evenly distributed across the widest surface of your body, minimizing pressure points and ensuring proper alignment of your internal organs.
Alternate sides if you’re a side sleeper
Some evidence suggests that habitually sleeping on one side on an ill-fitting mattress may contribute to muscle imbalance and pain. Always sleeping on the same side suspends the middle of your body between your hips and shoulders, the broadest parts of the trunk. Place a pillow between your knees as shown below to keep hips, pelvis and spine aligned.
Use a pillow
Whichever sleep position you choose, position your pillow beneath your head and neck, and not your shoulders. If you sleep on your back, make sure the pillow fills the space between your neck and the mattress to maintain your head in neutral position, as illustrated below. If you sleep on your side, use a thicker pillow, also shown below.
Your body type dictates the type of support you need
If your hips are wider than your waist, a softer mattress can accommodate the width of your pelvis and allow your spine to remain neutral, as shown below. If your hips and waist are in a relatively straight line, a more rigid surface offers better support.