A good night's sleep can go a long way toward recovering from an injury. During sleep is our
bodfs ideal time for healing and recovery so sleeping in a position that causes pain can
hinder the reccr.’ery process. This makes it crucial to find a comfortable sleeping position to
allow the body to feel at ease and promote a restful sleeFX especially if you are dealing with
some type of injury.
Addressing sleeping position is something that I try to do with most of my patients, regardless
of their diagnosis. Whenever I’m asked about the “best” position to sleep in, I usually tell my
patients to sleep hcn•.’ever is most comfortable for them because there isn’t one single answer
that will work for everybody. Still, learning the pros and cons Of different sleep positions and
how to use pillcws to support the body during the night can give people different options to
find the position that best works for them.
Sleeping on the back is probably the best for helping the spine to maintain a neutral
alignment and reducing stress on the head, neck. and back. In this position, you want to make
sure that you have a pillow supporting the natural curvature of your neck, but not too much
that your head is elevated much past a neutral position as this could increase stress
on the neck. A pillow underneath the knees, to keep the knees in a slightly bent position, can
help to reduce stress on the lower back during the night as well. Sleeping on your back has
the added benefit of helping to combat acid reflux, but is not ideal for people who are
pregnant or have sleep apnea.
Side sleeping, particularly on the side, is the preferred position for pregnant women and
can also help to ease acid reflux, snoring and sleep apnea. Orthopedically speaking, however,
sleeping on your side is not ideal because Of the amount Of pressure it puts on your neck and
shoulders. It can also result in restricted blcM)d flow and compression of nerves which can
lead to pain, numbness. and tingling in your arms. If you prefer sleeping on your side, in order
to best supportpur body consider using a thicker pillow to support your head and neck in a
neutral position as well as a pillow between your knees which can reduce stress on your back
Sleeping on the stomach is probably the worst sleep position from an Orthopedic standpoint.
Being on your stomach increases the curvature Of your lumbar spine and Staying in that
position throughout the night can result in a lot Of added stress to your low back. In this
position you also have to turn your head to one side or the Other While sleeping Which
increases strain on the neck as well. If you need to sleep on your stomach, consider using a
pillow underneath your midsection to prop up the lower back and reduce stress on that area
during the night.
With all that said, listen to your body and do what feels right If you feel most comfortable in a
certain position, that’s probably the best fit for you, If you are having pain, experimenting with
different sleep positions to find what works best can go a long way toward helping you to feel
better. If you find yourself waking with neck, back, or shoulder pain and your pain persists
throughout the day or continues to get worse Cwer time, consider calling uS at CPTC to see
we can help.
• Kevin Churchill, PT@ our East Beltline Office