Let’s begin by putting things in perspective. If you were to walk around for 8 hours every day with one arm raised straight above your head, at the end of the day your arm would hurt. More than likely it wouldn’t stop there; you would probably have some neck and back pain as well. So why is it okay for you to sleep in a bad position for 8 hours every night? It isn’t. Lets fix that.
Below are some common aches and pains people try to work around in order to get a good nights sleep. Find yours and try out our modifications.
Hips and/or Sciatica: Lets say it is your right hip that gets in the way, don’t sleep on your right side. Even if you don’t think sleeping on the problematic hip is making it worse, chances are it probably is. We tell patients to sleep on their back or on their good hip with a pillow between their knees. The pillow is very important, this keeps your knee at the same height as your hip and takes strain off the muscles so that they do not bow-string over bones and bursa sacks.
Lower Back: You have a couple of options here. The first one is sleeping on your back with a pillow behind your knees to help take strain off of your lower back. The second option is sleeping on your side, if you have a bad hip, knee or shoulder then sleep on the other side. You will want to sleep in more of a fetal position with your knees pulled up as high as is comfortable and with a pillow between your knees. This option can help open up and relieve stress on some herniated discs.
Shoulder: First of all sleeping on your back will be your best option. For those of you with very rounded shoulders and a slouched posture sleep on your back. Place a pillow on your chest for your arms to rest on top of; this should help relieve some of the shoulder strain. Your second option is to sleep on your good side and have an extra pillow in front of you for you to rest your arm on. If you sleep with your arm under your pillow then that’s a sign that your pillow isn’t tall enough and it might be time to invest in a “side sleeper” height pillow. These pillows work very well to support the neck and relieve pressure from the shoulder.
Neck: This one is tricky because it usually involves finding the correct pillow. If you sleep on your side make sure your pillow is tall enough. When lying down it should hold your head level. You can easily find a pillow labeled “side sleeper” so that you know it’s around the right height. As far as your top arm it should either rest on your hip or on a pillow in front of you. If you sleep on your back, make sure your pillow is not too tall. You may also want to try having an extra pillow on your chest for your arms to rest on top of.
Stomach Sleepers: STOP. Sleeping on your stomach puts your lower back and your neck in a compromised position. Chances are you’ve woken up with a very stiff neck or with your hands tingling. This is because the neck muscles and joints are not meant to be in a rotated position for a long period of time. If you refuse to give up sleeping on your stomach then try putting a pillow under your stomach/belly button to keep your lower back straight and perhaps a pillow under your ankles. As far as the neck goes, unless you’re sleeping on a massage table with a face cut-out then there’s no good stomach sleeping position for the neck. At least try to change the direction your head faces while you sleep from night to night. Understand that sleeping on your stomach may be causing long term damage.
Mattress: We’ve all seen the mattress commercials telling you to replace your mattress every eight years. If you find that you wake up very stiff and achy in the mornings no matter your sleeping position then consider looking at a new mattress. You shouldn’t wake up in pain.