January 21, 2018

What is the best position to sleep for back pain?

iStock_000025796411Small (640x426)Why does my back hurt in the morning?
Why is sleeping posture important?

Most of us have heard either mothers or grandmothers scold to “sit up straight.” Posture has always been a focus since we were little (despite few of us heeding this advice). We are exposed to ways to correct posture daily at work and home with the various ergonomic tools made to improve work place stations, but how often do we consider sleeping posture?
Mild stiffness in the mornings is a normal occurrence. When we sleep, gravity is no longer compressing the discs in our spine, allowing them to absorb the fluid around them, much like a sponge. Therefore, when we awake, these discs are a bit more swollen than they are the rest of the day, creating a bit of stiffness initially. As we begin to move around, gravity starts to compress these discs again, squeezing out all the excess fluid, giving us more mobility and less stiffness. Generally this resolves within 30-45 min of waking. However, if you are experiencing any stiffness lingering longer through the morning, or with a bit of discomfort associated with it, you may consider what positions you’re sleeping in.
Many people first admonish their mattresses; however this is generally a pretty expensive “fix” that does not make any guarantees. Ergonomic fixes at your work stations are designed to help keep your spine in a neutral position, why should sleeping be different?

Here are some tips to help improve sleeping posture, to set yourself up for a more limber, pain free day:

1. Try to avoid any twisted positioning, i.e. half stomach, half side
2. Consider the firmness of the mattress, is it very firm? Or very soft allowing some sag in your spine?
3. Consider “lumbar support” in laying: roll a towel into a 3-4 inch roll and wrap it around your natural waist; this will either fill in the gaps your waist creates on a more firm surface or helps prevent any additional “sag” on a softer surface.
4. If you notice the towel roll is helpful, more permanent solutions can be made, much like the lumbar pillows you can buy for sitting during the day.

K. Schultz

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