Dos and don’ts of sleeping position for back and neck pain prevention

Health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”.[1] A variety of definitions have been used for different purposes over time. Health can be promoted by encouraging healthful activities, such as regular physical exercise and adequate sleep,[2] and by reducing or avoiding unhealthful activities or situations, such as smoking or excessive stress. Some factors affecting health are due to individual choices, such as whether to engage in a high-risk behavior, while others are due to structural causes, such as whether the society is arranged in a way that makes it easier or harder for people to get necessary healthcare services. Still other factors are beyond both individual and group choices, such as genetic disorders.

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Some sleeping positions help with certain health problems others can cause certain health problems. Today we’ll help you find right sleeping position to avoid back and neck pain.

How many times have you woken up with neck or back pain? Maybe the pain is disturbing your sleep even at night? Trying to figure out what the back and neck pain is all about? Well, it is the most common pain that people suffer from. One of the leading causes behind it is your sleeping position!

Yes, that’s true! Most of us don’t think twice about the way we sleep—we just get into bed and find a position that is comfortable. However, sleeping on your side, back or stomach — all the positions greatly influence your health. Not only this, your sleeping position also plays a key role in snoring, acid reflux, heartburn, sleep apnea and even wrinkles.

There are some sleeping positions that place extra pressure on your neck, shoulder, hips and lower back—all of which can lead to an aching back and neck.

Dr Ashwin Borkar, Consultant Neurosurgeon, Wockhardt Hospital, Mira Road, Mumbai, says, “The way you sleep is associated with back and neck pain. And yes, certain sleep positions can aggravate pain and make your life miserable. While some may help to get rid of it.”

Let’s find out which sleeping position you should avoid if you are suffering from back and neck pain and which sleeping position you should follow.

Sleeping positions that can worsen your back and neck pain:

1. Sleeping on the stomach

Do you have a habit of lying down on your stomach? Stop doing so on an immediate basis. This position can give a tough time to the back and neck. “It can increase back pain and twist the neck. But in case you wish to sleep on the stomach, just place a pillow under the lower abdomen or the pelvis to get rid of back pain,” says Dr Borkar, who is a specialist in brain and spine surgery.

sleeping positionSleeping on your stomach is not the right way to sleep. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

2. Fetal position

This is a sleeping position that side sleepers love, but those who suffer from back and neck pain should avoid this position. What is the fetal position? When you lie on your side and bring your knees up to your chest you are sleeping in a fetal position. Sleeping in the fetal position can put your back and neck in a curved position while your sleep. It also causes muscles to tense up during sleeping.

If you are still sleeping in this position, then fold your hand under the pillow to support your head in this position.

3. Resting your arm under your head

It might be a cozy way to sprawl out in bed, but laying with your arm under your head isn’t the best way to rest. This could cause pressure on the nerves that interval the arm and cause numbness and tingling, also known as a dead fish arm.

Along with that, sleeping with your bottom arm under your pillow or your top leg stretched out can lead straight to shoulder and neck pain.

Sleeping positions that will help relieve your back and neck pain:

1. Sleep on the back

“If you’re suffering from back and neck pain and wish to manage them, you need to sleep on the back,” says Dr Borkar. This will evenly distribute the weight of the spine and that’s why it is considered the best position for your spinal health as the back remains straight. This will reduce the pressure on the disc, thus preventing pain in the neck and back.

sleeping positionSleep comfortably on your back. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Moreover, this position reduces acid reflux, helps maintain perky breasts, and minimizes facial wrinkles. Also, keep pillows under the knees in order to preserve the natural curve of the spine.

2. Sleep upright

Sleeping upright is neither inherently healthy nor unhealthy. As long as you are able to rest comfortably and get enough sleep the upright position might be the best option. Dr Borkar says, “Sleeping upright or in a recliner will allow one to alleviate back and neck pain.” Many people find relief for both neck and back pain by sleeping in an upright position or in a recliner. Moreover, this position is common among pregnant women for back pain

3. Sleeping on one side

Sleeping on your side with your legs slightly bent, arms outstretched, and head slightly angled off-center. “This sleeping position can be beneficial in tackling back pain. You will have to maintain the natural curve of the neck, so use a thick pillow to support the head,” suggests Dr Borkar.

Not only this, but this sleeping posture can also prevent snoring. Try switching sides every few hours to prevent back and neck aches.

sleeping positionSleeping on the side may prevent back and neck pain. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Always use a good mattress to avoid back and neck pain

You will have to choose a good and comfortable mattress and pillow that will support the spine. Both the pillow and mattress need to be comfortable. You can choose a firm or a soft mattress depending on your requirement.

If you’re facing sleeping issues follow these tips:

1. Being active and exercising regularly throughout the month is a good idea. Light exercise and stretches will improve the chances of better sleep.
2. Be sure to cut down on caffeine and alcohol at this time.
3. Aim to get plenty of rest and sleep.
4. Avoid screen exposure a couple of hours before sleep time, and keep your bedroom dark, cool, and quiet.
5. You can also try relaxation techniques like meditation, and a warm shower. They also help in improving the quality of your sleep.

So yes ladies, follow the right positions and say bye-bye to your back and neck pain.

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