When asleep, we lose conscious control over our body. This can lead to us sleeping in awkward positions, which may cause or aggravate back or neck pain. This, in turn, can result in a restless night’s sleep as well as pain and discomfort the following day. A lot of research shows a clear spiralling link between pain and poor sleep: pain leads to poor sleep and poor sleep increases the experience of pain. As chiropractors, we see a lot of patients struggling with the pain-sleep cycle and often find that their sleeping position is a contributing factor.

If you suffer with back or neck pain, the following tips can help to keep your back and neck relaxed and well positioned when asleep.

Front Sleeping

As a rule, avoid sleeping on your front as this affects the normal alignment of the spine by placing it in a u shape and twisting the neck. If you are a front sleeper, use a thin pillow under your head and a pillow under your pelvis to help keep the spine aligned.

Correct sleeping position for front sleeper
Back sleeper with pillow under head and knees
Side sleeper with pillow between knees

Back Sleeping

If you are a back sleeper, you can put a pillow under your knees to support the natural curve of the spine and minimize lumbar pressure.

Side Sleeping

If you sleep on your side, draw your knees up slightly towards your chest and put a pillow between your legs.

Sleeping on back with towel roll to support neck

Neck Support

Back sleepers generally need a flatter pillow than those sleeping on their side. Some people who feel a gap between their neck and pillow use a rolled-up hand towel (or circular pillow roll) to help give support and keep the spine aligned.

And Finally…

Think about your mattress – does it keep your spine in neutral alignment when sleeping on your side or back? If your mattress is too soft, your torso will sink causing the spine to arch when sleeping. If the mattress is too firm, your body won’t be able to keep its natural curve and this will cause discomfort and aches and pains. However, if you wake with back or neck pain, talk to a chiropractor first before committing to an expensive new mattress.

If you’re suffering with aches and pains or need advice, why not get in touch to see if we can help?