best sleeping position for preventing back and neck pain
Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

When was the last time you woke up with back or neck pain? If you said, “today,” and that’s typical for you, then it’s worth thinking about how you sleep.

As you can imagine, your sleeping position impacts your spinal health. Have you ever fallen asleep in a chair and woken up with a crick in your neck? If so, then your neck needed more support.

The entire purpose of pillows is to cradle your head and neck. Yet, you don’t want it to be too high or low. Ideally, your spine is in a neutral position when you sleep. And by neutral, we mean straight. When your spine is straight, then you’re not twisting it to one side or another for hours on end. 

Do you tend to sleep with your pelvis twisted to one side or another? Or, do you sleep on your stomach? Neither of these is good sleeping positions to prevent back or neck pain because they put unnecessary pressure on your spine. 

The Best Sleeping Positions to Prevent Back and Neck Pain 

These probably won’t surprise you, but the best sleeping positions are on your back or side. You do want to keep your neck well cradled with a good pillow for you, which we’ll cover in a moment, but first, consider the back and side sleeping. 

When you’re on your back, with your legs straight out and your arms by your side, your spine is in the straightest position. It’s very happy like this because your body weight is distributed evenly and completely supported. But if you’ve never been a back sleeper, it can be hard to try and train yourself. The easiest way is probably to lay on your back when you’re super tired and allow yourself to relax into the mattress. However, some people find sleeping on their back causes them to snore. 

Side sleepers are also in a good place as long as you have a supportive pillow and keep your legs straight. If you’re using an arm for support under your head or pulling your legs up into your chest, then your spine isn’t supported evenly, and you could wake up with back or neck pain. 

What’s your preferred sleeping position? 

About Those Pillows 

There’s a reason there so many types of pillows on the market. From down pillows to memory foam, there’s a pillow for everyone. The right one for you is supporting your neck and head and helping them stay in a straight line with your spine. 

If you’re like a lot of people in the Doylestown area, you probably have at least 3 or 4 pillows in your house that you can try. Here’s an exercise you can do to assess them. Take the pillow, put it on your bed, and lie down in your preferred sleeping position. Notice if your neck feels like it’s tilting up or down. Which one feels like it keeps your spine the straightest? If the answer is none, then it may be time for a new pillow. 

Of course, if you’re experiencing back and neck pain on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to have it checked out with Dr. Jeff McQuaite in Doylestown, PA. Find out more our neck pain treatment here.