This is Dr. Casey at Evolve Chiropractic of McHenry IL. Today we’re going to go over something my patients ask me virtually every day:
What is the Best Sleeping Position?
I’ll show you what it is and how to support your body so you fall asleep quickly and easily every night. I know this is something most of you probably struggle with – or have struggled with – but the solution is actually very simple. Keep reading because we’re going to break this all down.
(Me and my assistant Lauren – check out the Youtube video for a full demonstration of how to do everything we talk about in this post)
Sleep ergonomics is the study of how to position your body to get the best rest every night. We’ll use the principles of sleep ergonomics to pick apart the side sleeping position – the most common and most helpful sleeping position for most people.
The Best Sleeping Position: The Side Sleeping Position
The single best sleeping position is sleeping on your side. The way people normally side sleep though, isn’t healthy because the body isn’t aligned properly. Usually the lower back is curved over, the neck isn’t properly supported and we either crush our lower shoulder or hyper-extend it. Luckily for us, those issues are all easily fixed with a couple simple tweaks.
Support Your Neck and Head
People always ask me, ‘What’s the best pillow for sleeping?’ I tell them, ‘Which ever one you feel most comfortable with that keeps your neck in alignment.’ There’s no best brand or material type. What is important is how the pillow supports your head and neck so you’re not tilting or cramping to one side or the other. You want a pillow that holds your body in a neutral position.
The key point is to keep your neck and spine in line. Very important. You don’t want too much tilt one way or the other. If your pillow height and neck are in line, you’ll be good to go.
Leg Position: Line Up Your Knees
The next step is to line your knees up together, with both knees pulled up and in front of your body.
You’ll want to have some sort of padding between your knees to keep your legs parallel. The knees are also a pressure point so the padding prevents your body from getting uncomfortable and fidgeting at night.
The position of the lower legs isn’t important so do whatever is comfortable for you. As long as the knees are aligned, the lower legs can do whatever feels natural.
Taking Pressure Off the Bottom Shoulder
One of the problems some people have with the side sleeping position is putting too much pressure on the lower shoulder – which can compress it and leave it feeling tense in the morning. To avoid this, simply move the shoulder slightly forward and rest your hand back on the top of your pillow. Again, this creates a neutral position that is very easy for your body to maintain.
The Benefits of a Neutral Side Sleeping Position
Once you start sleeping like this, you are going to see a whole host of positive health benefits. Your body will more easily enter into deep REM sleep. This is important because REM sleep deprivation has been shown to have negative psychological effects, including mild depression, anxiety, irritability and even hallucinations. REM is also the stage of sleeping when you enter the dream state.
How to Practice Side Sleeping
When you first begin sleeping in this way, it is very normal to wake up with pillows flung all over the room and your body in a completely different position. That’s to be expected. After all, you’ve spent your entire life sleeping in a non-neutral position so it will take some time getting used to the new position.
The more you practice sleeping like this, the more your body will get used to it and you’ll begin to see the positive health effects.
My experience after having practiced neutral side sleeping for so many years, is that I will often wake up in the morning in the exact same position I fell asleep in. It feels incredible and I can enter my day knowing my body got the proper rest and rejuvenation.
Now it’s time to tell us about your experience. Please comment below and let us know if you have any insights of your own to share!
If you want to learn more or visit one of the Evolve Chiropractic offices, please click here.