Poor posture can adversely affect your health – this is not debatable. Correct sleeping posture is vital if you are trying to correct posture imbalances and reduce back, neck, and shoulder pain. By making adjustments to the positions in which you sleep at night, you can actually reduce postural strain and eliminate a major cause of pain! By minimizing the stress on certain parts of your body, namely the neck, shoulders and back, while sleeping 7-9 hours at night, your posture will improve, and so will your overall health.
Your mattress will not support you after 8-10 years at maximum – even if it is the best one on the market. Sorry, but it’s true. While I do not endorse a specific brand, the best one for YOU will be something that’s firm, while offering you good support and a great night’s sleep. If you choose one that is excessively firm, while it may be good for your spine, if you cannot sleep, that will be bad for your health – and the people you hang out with.
You should also regularly turn your mattress so the inner springs stay fresh. Some mattress manufacturers even suggest that you turn your mattress so the top is at the bottom and vice versa. They recommend you do this every 6 weeks or so.
The Wall Test:
Pull your shoulder blades down and in until they actually touch the wall.
Elongate your neck by imagining someone pulling your head up from the back.
Move your head back so that it is against the wall.
Position your chin so that it becomes parallel to the floor.
Stand with your weight equally distributed on both legs.
The Mirror Test:
Stand in front of a mirror and look to verify that your shoulders and neck are straight.
With your shoulders even, move them down as far as they will go.
Your abdominal muscles should be kept tight as you stand in this position.
Did you pass the tests? If you have failed or are unsure – it’s time to see a chiropractor. A good chiropractor (like us âº) can assess your posture and determine areas that you will need to work on –
undoing the computer and TV time may seem impossible – but it is actually quite attainable with a little diligence.
This is one of the most difficult questions I get asked on a daily basis – “What is the best pillow?” The answer is always, “It depends on how you sleep.” Your pillow should support your neck whether you are on your side or back. I personally like a pillow that is a bit unusual in its shape- the Align-Right pillow – it is measured to your size and actually has research behind its effectiveness of helping with reducing pain – which is why it is the only pillow I have confidence in recommending.
Avoid sleeping face down at ALL costs – while it may be comfortable – it will cause years of pain down the road. We were not designed to sleep with our heads wrenched to one side night after night. While I will admit that face down sleeping posture is not an easy change, it can be done. Just start your sleep out in one of the positions I will be discussing below and every time you wake up on your stomach, change back to the correct position. Slowly your bad habit will change and you will be significantly healthier for it!
Back & Side Sleeping
The best position for sleeping is alternating between your side and your back (which usually happens automatically during the night). If you start on your back, a low pillow should be used so that your head and neck are not pushed forward too much (which contributes to forward head posture (FHP)). As well, placing a pillow underneath your knees will take some pressure off your low back, which will help prevent low back pain and sciatica.
For side sleeping, the best sleeping posture, it is vital that your pillow fits you! If your pillow is too thin, your head will bend towards the mattress and if it is too thick your head will bend towards the ceiling – both less than ideal scenarios if you are trying to stay healthy, correct your posture, and out of pain. As well, your head should be positioned parallel to the base of your bed, not bent down towards your chest.
Finally, slightly bend your knees and place another pillow between your knees. This will allow your pelvis and lower back to maintain the best possible alignment during sleep. While you will never become entirely invincible to occasional discomforts in your life (due to our lifestyles), you can be sure that your sleeping posture is not the main source of your daily spinal stress by following the above guidelines.
Dr. Jon Saunders