Ask Rich Series – Sleeping Postures

I received this question in response to my post on Neck Pain- Physical Therapy Can Help:


I have some issues with my neck/back that usually only disturbs me in the morning. I’m guessing the reason is how I sleep at night.


Thanks for the comment. Sleeping postures can certainly affect and even cause painful pathologies. When you think about it you can certainly understand how sleeping in any one position for 6-8 hours could present a problem. Try holding your arm behind your back or completely extended overhead for even 10 minutes and see how it feels. The most common problem areas that I see with sleeping are in the shoulder, neck, and back. Generally, I advise people to avoid end range stress on their joints by maintaining a relatively neutral spine. This can be achieved by taking a number of measures including the following:

1) Avoid sleeping on your stomach, or with your arms overhead.

2) Use a pillow that supports your head by keeping it from a twisted or bent position.

3) Get a new mattress. If your mattress sags or is lumpy it’s probably the time for a new one.

4) Avoid sleeping in the same position all of the time.Vary your sleeping positions, preferably on either side or on your back.

5) Use extra pillows to support your body in neutral positions, to avoid extremes of motion in the neck and shoulder.

6) If you must sleep on your stomach use a pillow under your hips.

Here are a few pictures for good sleeping postures.

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