What’s the Best Sleep Position for Neck Pain?
Trying to sleep when you have neck pain can be a real pain in the neck. Sleeping in an awkward position or on the wrong pillow can put abnormal stress on your spine. That abnormal stress can overstretch the muscles and ligaments that support your spine; most importantly in your neck. Overstretching of the muscles and ligaments can lead to chronic issues such as tension headaches, neck pain, upper back pain and loss of cervical curvature. So, Dr. Stark, what is the right position to sleep in or the right pillow to use? I’m glad you asked…
There are three common sleeping positions: back, side or stomach. Sleeping on your back is by far the healthiest for your spine, but a lot of people have difficulty sleeping in this position because they can’t seem to find a good pillow to support their head properly. The key to the perfect pillow for a back sleeper is flexibility. You want a pillow that holds your head and neck in a neutral position when lying on your back, not a pillow that’s too full that it flexes your neck (bends it forward) or too flat that it extends your neck (bends it backwards). It is also helpful to put a pillow beneath your knees to better support the lower back.
If you just can’t seem to sleep on your back comfortably, side sleeping is the next best option. Sleeping on your side can be tricky though because it can possibly lead to lower back, hip or even rib pain. But fear not, I have a solution! I’ll get to that shortly…I can’t give all my secrets away so soon! Finding a good pillow for a side sleeper can also be a challenge. You want to find a pillow that fits well in the space between your head and shoulders. A pillow that is too full will cause your neck to bend away from the mattress creating an abnormal lateral (sideways) curve in the neck. This abnormal curvature can cause overstretching of the neck muscles on one side and spasming of the neck muscles on the other side; neither of which is a good thing. A pillow that is too flat, will cause the same problem, but in reverse. The perfect pillow will support your head without creating any abnormal curvature allowing the muscles in your neck to relax, thus giving you a restful and pain-free sleep. Are you ready for my secret solution to preventing lower back, hip and rib pain while side sleeping? A body pillow! That’s right…holding onto a pillow while side sleeping prevents awkward rotation (turning) of the upper body allowing the spine and ribs to stay in a neutral position. Also, make sure to place that body pillow between your knees to keep your pelvis in a neural position which will prevent rotation of the lower body that can cause low back and hip pain. Pretty simple, huh?
Now as for you stomach sleepers…you might as well just schedule regular appointments with your chiropractor right now! Sleeping on your stomach is the worst option of the three. It puts your spine in constant extension which impinges the joints in the thoracic and lumbar spine causing back pain. Not to mention that sleeping on your stomach requires prolonged rotation of the cervical spine causing neck pain too! Avoid this sleeping position at all costs!
So…what kind of pillow is not too full, not too flat, but juuuuust right? Well, Goldilocks, I have the perfect option for you. It’s called a ChiroFlow pillow! The ChiroFlow pillow is adjustable, meaning that you can change the fullness of the pillow to fit your needs. See, it is a water based pillow so you can add water when you need to add fullness or you can let water out when you need a flatter pillow. How cool is that?! Regardless of if you are a back sleeper or a side sleeper, the ChiroFlow pillow is right for you. These pillows are available at both Pro Chiropractic locations: Belgrade and Bozeman. Schedule an appointment with your Pro Chiropractic doc today to learn more!
If you or someone you know in the Gallatin Valley area is looking for a chiropractor, please call Dr. Shea Stark with Pro Chiropractic at 406-219-2462 to schedule an appointment in our Belgrade, Manhattan, or Bozeman office. Dr. Stark is a board certified chiropractor and the author of this blog post. To learn more about Dr. Stark and the many benefits of chiropractic care, please visit our website: www.prochiromt.com.