onitoring your sleeping positions, along with selecting the right pillows, can minimize neck and back pain.
Neck pain occurs around the cervical vertebrae in your neck. As a result of the location and range of motion, your neck is usually left unprotected and subject to holding awkward positions for extended periods of time, and therefore, injury.
Like many other things in life, when it comes to neck and back pain, a little precaution before a crisis occurs is to our benefit. It is true that some causes of neck pain, such as age-related wear and tear, are not under anyone’s control. Then again, there are many things one can do to minimize any risks. First, start observing how you sleep and what impact this may have on one’s body, especially on the neck and back.
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The Best Sleeping Positions for Neck & Back Pain
There are two sleeping positions that are most comfortable on the neck and back:
On your side or on your back.
If you sleep on your back (a back sleeper),
choose a medium (average loft) pillow to support the natural curve of your neck. When you go to sleep, pull the pillow over your shoulder. Positioning the pillow over your shoulder would fill the space between your head and the mattress. As a result, your neck is neutrally aligned, allowing you to have a good night’s sleep without your head pushing too far backward or excessively forward. Using a knee pillow under the knees may help reduce stress on your spine, and support the natural curve in your lower back.
If you sleep on your side (a side sleeper), keep your spine straight by using a firm pillow that is higher under your neck than your head. Here again, pull the pillow over your shoulder. Utilizing a knee pillow between your knees will reduce stress on your hips and lower back.
Here are some additional tips for side, and back-sleepers:
- Try using a shapeable pillow such as a poly-fiber pillow, which easily conforms to the shape of the neck. Poly-fiber pillows can bounce back to their original form; however, they should be replaced every year or so.
- Another option is a traditionally shaped pillow-in-a-pillow that conforms to the contour of your head and neck. These pillows may help foster proper spinal alignment.
- Avoid using a too high or stiff pillow, which keeps the neck stretched overnight and can result in morning pain and stiffness.
- When traveling by a plane, train, or car, a neck pillow can support your neck. So, it prevents your head from dropping to one side if you nap. If the pillow is too big behind the neck, however, it will force your head too forward.
- When you are just reclining to watch TV, try a EuroKing pillow that may help your head, neck, shoulder, and back in a straight line.
Sleeping on your stomach is hard on your spine because the back is curved, and your neck is overly turned to the side. Sleeping positions are often formed during the early life and can be challenging to change, not to mention that we do not frequently wake up in the same place in which we fell asleep. Still, it is worth trying to train yourself by using a body pillow the night sleeping on your back or side in a well-supported, stable position.
Not Just The Sleep Position
Research suggests that not just sleep positions, but sleep itself, can play a role in muscle and bone pain, including neck and shoulder pain. In one study, researchers compared muscle soreness in 4,140 healthy men and women with and without sleeping problems. Sleeping problems included difficulty falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, waking early in the mornings, and non-restorative sleep. They found that people who reported moderate to severe problems in at least three of these four categories were significantly more likely to develop chronic musculoskeletal pain after one year than those who said little or no problem with sleep. One possible explanation is that sleep disturbances disrupt the muscle relaxation and healing that typically occur during sleep. Additionally, it is well established that pain can disrupt sleep, contributing to a vicious cycle of pain disrupting sleep, and sleep problems contributing to pain.
Quality of Life
Neck and back pain can range from a mild, gloomy, irritating ache, to persistent, severe, disabling pain. Pain may restrict mobility and interfere with the normal operation and quality of life. You should always consult your health care provider if you have persistent pain.
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