Good Night, Sleep Tight: Positions for a Healthy Spine

Posted on: March 12th, 2024 by Dr. Zachary Goldstein, MD

Ever wake up feeling like you wrestled a bear? Your sleep position might be the culprit! We spend roughly a third of our lives in bed, making it crucial to prioritize sleep habits that promote good spine health. Below are some pointers to help you ditch the tossing and turning and discover positions that will leave you feeling refreshed and pain-free.

Blissful Sleeping Positions:

  • Side Sleeping: Recognized as the MVP among sleep positions, side sleeping maintains your spine in a neutral and aligned state, reducing the risk of strain or discomfort. Additionally, placing a pillow between the knees provides extra lumbar support, further contributing to a spine-friendly posture. Bonus: this position can help reduced snoring, adding to the overall tranquility of sleep.
  • Back Sleeping: Lying flat on your back is another spine-friendly choice. With this option, it’s important to use a modest pillow as lofty headrests may strain the neck. Additionally, supine sleeping can be advantageous if you’re dealing with acid reflux.

Positions to Put to Bed:

  • Stomach Sleeping: Stomach sleeping is generally considered unfavorable for the spine as it can lead to unnatural neck craning and lower back arching, disrupting your natural alignment. Sleeping in this position may exert excessive pressure on your joints and restrict blood flow, contributing to discomfort and potential long-term issues with spinal health.
  • Fetal Position: Despite the initial comfort it may provide, curling up into a cozy ball in the fetal position can compress your spine and impede blood circulation. Visualize this posture as resembling a twisted pretzel, which, over time, may lead to discomfort, pain, and stiffness.

Bonus Tips for Sweet Dreams:

  • Choose the Right Mattress: Your mattress should be your spine’s best friend, offering supportive comfort without being too soft or firm. Think of it as a cloud you can sleep on. Buy a good quality mattress, your future self will thank you!
  • Pillow Talk: Invest in supportive pillows that coddle your head and neck, keeping your spine in perfect alignment. Experiment with different pillow types and thicknesses to find what works best for you.
  • Listen to Your Body: If you wake up feeling like you went a few rounds with a jackhammer, try a different position or consult a sleep specialist for personalized advice.

By making conscious choices about your sleep position and incorporating these simple tips, you can transform your sleep and make your spine happy. If you are experiencing persistent back pain, take the first step towards a pain-free life and consult with one of our experts in spine and neck care today.


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