Is Your Sleeping Position Promoting Pain?

We’ve all got a favorite sleep position.

Some like to sleep on their sides, others on their stomach, or (if you’re like me) you flip around so much through the night that your bed looks like a mini tornado touched down.

And I’m sure you’re no stranger to waking up with a crick in your neck or some pain in your back.
But did you know that the way you sleep is a contributing factor to that pain?

What’s the lowdown on your favorite?  Read on and find out!


Sleeping on Your Back:  Most doctors and chiropractors agree that this is the best sleeping position if you’re looking to
minimize your pain when you wake up in the morning.  Sleeping on your back allows for your spine and neck to stay supported and in a neutral position, stopping you from getting the lower back pain that you’ll wake up with in other positions.

However, if you’re still having trouble with pain when you wake up, try putting a pillow under your knees to help your spine

maintain its natural curve while your sleeping.

Bonus:  Sleeping on your back is known to give you less face wrinkles.  Oh the benefits of not sleeping with your face smooshed up against a pillow.


Side Sleeping: Ask anyone on the street how they sleep and this is going to be the number one answer.  But this position, while super comfortable, has a couple of downsides.  If you’re the type that sleeps with your legs curled up while you’re on your side, then your body is stuck in a sitting position, which tightens the hip flexors and pulls your pelvis forward.

And when the balance in your hips is thrown off it puts extra pressure on your low back, contributing to your pain.   This position also puts much of your body weight onto the shoulder, causing pain and tightness in the muscles surrounding, as well as the neck.

But it’s not all bad news for you side sleepers!  The New York Times reports that sleeping on the left side specifically can ease heartburn and acid reflux.  Why not the right?  It turns out that sleeping on your right side relaxes the sphincter between your stomach and esophagus, making it easier for the stomach acid to escape and make its way north.

Can’t seem to kick the habit and transition over to sleeping on your back?  Sleep with a pillow between your knees (a body pillow works great for this) to take some of the pressure off of your low back and pelvis.


Sleeping on Your Stomach: Sorry stomach sleepers, your go-to is arguably the worst sleeping position.  Aside from easing some cases of snoring, there’s not a lot of advantage to sleeping on your stomach.  Why?  To start, laying on your stomach flattens the natural curve of your spine, leaving it unsupported and increasing the pressure on the lower back.  That can result in some awful back pain once you wake up.

It also forces you to keep your neck rotated for long periods of time (otherwise you’d be suffocating on your pillow) and that rotation is prone to causing tension and pain throughout the neck and shoulders.

Switching over to another sleeping position isn’t always easy and you’ll have to train your body over time to get comfortable with sleeping in new ways.  To ease pain in the meantime, place a pillow underneath your midsection to minimize the pressure on the spine.


The Takeaway: Sleep on your back as much as possible.  It’s your best bet when it comes to minimizing shoulder, neck, and back pain.  Now, I know that’s easier said than done considering you spend your sleeping moments unconscious, but try to reposition to the back when you wake up in the middle of the night if possible.

In the meantime, use a pillow as recommended to add support if you’re a stomach or side sleeper.

We promise you’ll feel the difference in the morning!



Kelly Crites

Admin for our Cape studio and the face behind our blogs, Kelly is a year into her new, healthier lifestyle and ready to share the tips and tricks she learns along the way. Current Goal: Making it through an entire Tough Mudder.

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