The Correct Way to Sleep
|As a chiropractor, I get ask about mattresses, pillow and sleeping positions a lot. The most healthful posture for sleeping is on one’s back. With the proper pillow and mattress, this allows the body to be correctly aligned while you rest. You want to sleep in a position that is closest to “anatomical position” or normal spinal alignment. The spine should be straight when you look at it from the front and have three proper curves when looking from the side. The quickest and most common way to jack up your spine while sleeping is with a bad pillow. Sadly almost ALL pillows are terrible because their main function is to support your HEAD when instead they should be used to support the back of your NECK! You need a forward curve in your neck. You do not need your head resting forward from your body.
Lying on your back:
Place a thin pillow, NO pillow or a neck support pillow under your head to maintain the cervical arch without pushing your head forward towards the ceiling.
Lying on your side:
Place pillow(s) under your head that keep your neck in a straight line with the rest of your spine. Ideally, a pillow, sized to your shoulder width is used so there is no guesswork stacking pillows.
Moving back and forth between these positions during the night can be a useful way to help restless sleepers feel like they’ve moved and resettled. If you get uncomfortable, try moving around – just keep your standing posture in mind when you readjust.
Remember that this is not a guarantee to instantly wake up feeling great. This is a chiropractor approved strategy for getting the most out of your sleep and preventing you from causing problems. If you have no curve or worse a reverse or “S” curve in your neck and you try a pillow with a lot of cervical support, you make wake up hurting. Essentially you just spend 8 hours forcing that curve in. This can take months or even years of chiropractic adjustments, therapies, and exercises. If you are working with your chiropractor on structural correction (not just traditional symptom relief), it is common to go through more than one pillow while making those changes. Don’t forget structural correction is making changes to your spinal structure that will be seen on x-ray… these are BIG changes and it is not uncommon to go through stages where you need less support in certain areas until your spine is more mobile and the structure approximates normal more closely. Take your time and don’t get discouraged. If you have any questions it’s best to talk to your chiropractor.
-Dr. Bret Wickstrom