Good posture when sleeping is very important, considering the amount of time one spends in bed. I discourage sleeping on the stomach, because it is obviously difficult to keep the neck in a neutral position while doing so. Sleeping on the back or either side is preferable. I encourage patients to use a pillow that provides the proper support to keep the head/neck in a neutral posture. Proper pillow height is needed so that a person does not end up sleeping on an arm when lying on their side. (One’s pillow, not an arm, should do the job of supporting the head/neck.) Because of the importance of pillow support, I usually discourage feather pillows. Obviously, the support provided by your bedding helps determine whether or not proper posture of the spine is maintained while sleeping. (If the mattress and box springs are 20 years old, I can assure you that proper support is no longer being provided.)
I encourage my younger patients to also avoid stomach sleeping, because the earlier the habit is stopped, the better. Just because their necks are more flexible doesn’t mean it is any better for kids to sleep with them twisted to one side or the other. Hopefully, with parents of newborns being advised not to place their babies on their stomachs because of the threat of SIDS, fewer and fewer children/adults will be stomach sleepers in the future.
Next week, we will discuss:
1) Working posture
2) Postural micro-breaks
Dr. Steven Vollmer is a doctor of chiropractic (DC) and Diplomate of the American Academy of Pain Management (DAAPM) in clinical practice at Cole Pain Therapy Group.