December 15, 2020

Sleep position mistakes and how to fix them

The holiday break is the perfect time to catch up on missed sleep. It’s also a great opportunity to fix common sleep position mistakes (hello, 10am lie-ins). Make your nap back-friendly with our chiropractors’ tips. 

Who thinks about their sleep position? For many of us, how we lie is an afterthought. But considering we spend around a third of our lives lying down, it makes sense that sleep posture can impact spinal health. Fixing common sleep position mistakes may potentially prevent the effects of an unsupported or misaligned spine (think neck or back pain). Our chiropractors have compiled simple DIY tweaks to try during your holiday sleep-ins. As a bonus, a better sleep position may even help to increase sleep quality, with untold benefits for your health and wellbeing.

Adjust your sleep position

  • If you sleep on your side: Try placing a pillow between your slightly-bent knees to minimise pressure on the spine and facilitate alignment. Otherwise, leave the pillow and simply straighten the lower leg for support and bend the upper knee. 
  • If you sleep on your back: First, check that your pillows are the correct height to promote proper alignment. Your head should not be notably higher than the rest of your body and your neck should not be on a sharp angle. Next, lie on your back and place a second, small pillow under your knees. 
  • If you sleep on your tummy: This is the least spine-friendly sleep position. It places undue pressure on the neck. Try replacing this position with side or back sleeping. 

Check your bedding

  • Mattress. If your mattress is sagging or you ‘sink’, either because it’s worn or simply too soft, consider investing in a firmer, more supportive sleep foundation. 
  • Pillows. There is a world of pillow options from soft budget foam versions (these usually sink and flatten quickly and can lack support) to contoured and health-focused pillows, which are often made from materials such as memory foam and are designed to provide optimal, consistent support for the neck and back. If you can afford it, opt for better quality pillows. While they are more expensive, with a good pillow, you should only need one (if you're used to a pile of pillows, they're probably sinking and unsupportive, and the craned neck position of stacked pillows is bad for your spine). If you're not sure, ask your chiropractor for their recommendation.

If you are suffering back or neck pain or discomfort, changing your sleep position and adapting daily lifestyle habits may help. However, with anything spine-related, it's important to seek assessment and any required treatment from a chiropractor, who can provide personalised recommendations for habits including sleep position, exercise technique and sitting and standing posture. 

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We honour the strength and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and pay our respects to all Elders, past and present.
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