Sleeping on your stomach is the most common sleeping position and possibly the most comfortable, but are the side effects of doing so worth it? Studies show that this position can cause various pains to your body, including headaches. If sleeping on your stomach is not good for you, then what is the best way to sleep? Read below for the best sleeping positions and how they can be better for your body. If you have any questions regarding treatment plans or to schedule an appointment please contact us at 309-691-7774.
Stomach sleepers often insist that they are unable to sleep in any other position. But, changing your sleeping position is essential, as sleeping on your stomach can be the cause of neck, back, hip and shoulder pain and even headaches.
In order to sleep on your stomach, you must turn your head in one direction to be able to breathe, leaving your neck in constant rotation throughout the night. This causes diminished blood flow to the head and neck, which can cause headaches and other pain.
If you must sleep on your stomach, there are pillows with holes in the middle that will allow your neck to stay straight while you sleep.
Another problem with stomach sleeping: In order to raise your head and shoulders enough to breath, you need to have an arch in your lower back. This causes compression in the spine and does not allow for proper alignment of ligaments, muscles, bones, and joints. If you wake up with a stiff back or sharp pain in your back or numbness and tingling in your legs or feet, stomach sleeping may be to blame.
You can alleviate these aches by placing a pillow under your stomach. Just make sure the pillow is thick enough so that you have a neutral spine. (This may require more than one pillow.)
Sometimes people will sleep with a leg up to the side — what I call a “three-quarter position” — and not really consider it stomach sleeping. While this position is better than stomach sleeping because it does take the pressure off the lower back, it can instead put extra pressure on the hip. To sleep in that position correctly you want to put several pillows under your stomach so that you are almost sleeping on your side.
Stomach sleeping and the three-quarter sleeping position also encourage you to have your arms overhead when sleeping. This puts tremendous pressure on your shoulders and the surrounding nerves. Waking up with hands that are asleep or shoulders that are in pain is a very big sign that you are causing injury to yourself. Even if you can shake the pain off quickly in the morning, over time it can become a greater issue.
So how should you sleep then?
Lying on your back is the best position to sleep, followed by lying on your side. But even in those positions, there are steps you need to take to set yourself up with correct posture.
When lying on your back, you don’t want to be completely flat as that will cause a slight arch in your back. Place two or three pillows underneath your legs to put your spine in a neutral position. You also want to make sure that your pillow allows your head to lay flat.
When lying on your side, consider a side sleeper pillow that will fill the size of your shoulder to ensure your neck is in a neutral position. You do not want to use two pillows, as they can slide and cause you to shrug your shoulders in order to keep them in place, ending in neck and shoulder pain. Also, put a pillow between your knees to ensure a neutral spine. And if you have shoulder soreness or pain, hugging a pillow will help by allowing increased blood flow to the shoulder.
While it is very hard to change how you sleep it is important to start trying, even just falling asleep in the proper position, but shifting throughout the night, can save you and your body some unwanted aches and pain.