Best Sleeping Positions for Neck and Back Pain
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A good night’s sleep, or a bad one for that matter can influence the type of day you will have greatly. For individuals who suffer from sleep deprivation, mood changes, irritability, and headaches are common issues. However lack of sleep can cause more than just daily annoyances, as sleep is important for overall health.
According to the Division of Sleep at Harvard Medical School, numerous studies (http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/consequences/sleep-and-disease-risk) have shown that insufficient sleep may increase the risk for developing various chronic diseases and health problems such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and mood disorders. Not only does sleep deprivation affect health, but it may also affect people’s daily performance including memory, concentration, and the ability to react quickly. For individuals who drive or operate heavy machinery on a regular occurrence, safety is also a concern. According to a study published by the British Medical Journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine (https://oem.bmj.com/content/57/10/649), sleep deprived individuals test as poorly if not worse, than individuals who are intoxicated in driving simulation and hand-eye coordination tests.
As important as sleep is, the CDC reports that 1 in 3 adults do not get enough sleep. The typical problems that cause insufficient sleep include stress, poor sleeping habits, nutrition, and chronic pain. Though there are many different types of chronic pain, neck and back pain are the some of the most common that back pain doctor helps patients with. Changing the position of your sleep may provide some pain relief and aid with a good night’s sleep.
Harvard Medical School (https://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/say-good-night-to-neck-pain) reports that the best sleeping position for neck and back pain is on your side or on your back. For individuals who feel more comfortable sleeping on their stomach, it is important to remember that over a long period of time this position is tough on the spine. Sleeping on your stomach causes the spine to arch and your neck to turn to the side. The extra tension on these muscles may lead to chronic neck and back pain over time.
Here are some best practices for sleeping on your side and back:
When sleeping on your back it is best to choose a rounded pillow that supports the natural curvature of the neck, and a flatter pillow that cushions the head. To create this type of pillow at home, simply tuck a small neck roll into the pillowcase of a soft pillow.
Additional Tips On Pillow Use:
- Use a feather or memory foam pillow – these pillows conform to the shape of your neck more easily.
- Avoid using stiff or high pillows – these pillows keep the neck flexed throughout the night.
- Side sleepers – place a pillow that is high under your neck rather than your head to keep the spine straight.
Additionally, research suggests that sleep deprivation may also contribute to musculoskeletal pain leading to a vicious cycle of pain disturbing sleep, and sleep deprivation leading to pain. Though it may be difficult to change the position of your sleep, these small changes may make all the difference in the quality of your sleep. Don’t let chronic pain prevent you from getting a good night’s rest, heal your pain before the vicious cycle starts.