The ideal sleeping position

Lack of proper sleep can interfere with your quality of life, your social interactions and even your mood. You can notice a decrease in productivity at work or lack of concentration. Making sure you are in the right posture to have a good recuperating sleep is essential. Each position has advantages and disadvantages and, depending on your condition, you may choose one over another.

For example, if you have sleep apnoea, you would be advised to sleep on your side rather than on your back to help breathing better. Another good example is if you are pregnant, you would be advised to sleep on your left side to aid circulation. Changing position during the night is good for you. Many people believe they don’t move around much in bed and stay in the same position all night, but this is largely untrue. Most of us move many times during the night and sleep in multiple positions.

The very best sleeping position is the one where you lie down on your back with your head being supported by a pillow and another pillow under your knees.

Your head pillow should be just high enough to support your head whilst keeping your chin in a neutral position. A thin single pillow is often enough to achieve this. Your chin should not be tucked in and your head should not be tilted back.

An orthopaedic pillow will be useful since it offers an optimal support. Your chiropractor can advise you on the one that would be good for you.

The ideal pillow should be washable, anti allergenic; it should support the neck and be flexible and not too thick. We recommend a pillow that has a good shape and density so it can offer a firm support. Those buckwheat hulls pillows are very practical especially in the summer since they do not store heat and are malleable and mould perfectly to your neck.

The objective is to keep the normal spinal alignment. We should have a smooth cervical spine lordosis (a ‘C’ curve shape with the apex at the middle of the neck), a thoracic spine kyphosis (with the apex of the curve at the posterior aspect of the upper back) and a lumbar spine lordosis (with the apex at the anterior aspect of the lower spine).

Sleeping on your stomach is the worse position for your spine. The torsion created at the cervical spine can reverse the normal lordosis and force your vertebrae into rotation.

A vertebra that is misaligned or not moving properly can throw off the harmonious balance of your bones and muscles. This malfunction creates a state of imbalance that puts stress on the connected structures and can create discomfort or pain.

This position can also be associated with arm pain and numbness. Sleeping on your stomach with an arm on top or under the pillow can create pain due to the hyper extension exerted to your arm during the night. This creates interference to the blood supply to your shoulder muscles and tendons, a factor that can contribute to an impingement syndrome.

And there is another problem associated with this ventral position for sleeping; it is called bruxism (clenching teeth). As you sleep on your back, there is no pressure on your face which decreases the risk of bruxism.

Lateral position – on your side

This position is not as bad as the one on your stomach, but it also has its pitfalls.
The side posture increases the pressure on your temporo-mandibular joint (your jaw) and on your hips, and it can put more rotation on your lumbar spine than is indicated. Sleeping with a pillow between your knees may help prevent too much rotation and support a better posture for your whole lumbar spine.

Also, we recommend while you sleep on your side to use a pillow that is high enough to make up the gap between the point of your shoulder and head. This will often require using a full-size pillow but do not use two pillows under your head… they tend to move around during the night and can set you in a very wrong posture and lead to neck pain.

Some people prefer sleeping with both legs straight and others prefer the foetus position with one or both knees bent. We thought for a long time that this was a good sleeping position because it is the least damaging to your spine. And that is still true for those who are not prone to kidney stones.

A study conducted at the San Francisco’s university of California showed some surprising results: men that were always sleeping on the same side were more prone to develop kidney stones. On 93 patients that were suffering from recurrent kidney stones, 75% of them had those kidney stones only on the side they were sleeping on.

Dr. Marshall Stoller, Md, Teacher at San Francisco’s university in urology stated: “Taking the same sleeping lateral position every night seems to alter blood flow to the kidney, preventing the kidney to eliminate the crystals deposits which contribute to the formation of stones.”

Sweet dreams
The best way to have a good night’s sleep is to adopt a comfortable sleeping position, use a good pillow and change position during the night. If you feel tightness or pain when you wake up, find a way to change your sleeping habits. Sometimes morning pain is not only due to bad posture but to spinal problems that can be resolved with chiropractic care.

Perhaps it’s time to see your chiropractor for a proper evaluation and movement correction for the sake of your spine.

|| By Sandra Genest-Boudreau | Christophe O. Alves
[email protected]

Sandra Genest-Boudreau is French-Canadian, who graduated from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in 1990 before coming to the Algarve in 2002. She is passionate about adjusting all her patients, particularly children. Christophe Alves graduated from the Anglo-European College of Chiropractic (AECC) UK, and has a special interest in Sport Chiropractic. Algarve Quiroprática clinic: EN125 in Pêra | 282 312 853 | 969 397 375
Licença da ERS n.º 17485/2019 de 11-06-2019