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  • Writer's pictureCapstone Chiropractic LLC

Sleep Position: Quick Fix

Updated: Dec 3, 2020

Sleeping is the way we heal our bodies and recover for the next day. We should all wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day's challenges.

Why do so many people wake up feeling sore and tired the next morning even after getting adequate sleep?

One reason is simple, we’re simply not sleeping in a good position! If you’re constantly waking up feeling tired with pain and stiffness here are a few things to think about.

Side Sleepers

Sleeping on your side can potentially put your low back and pelvis into a rotated position. Doing this for a long period of time can cause the spine and muscles to “fix” in position and become irritated, causing pain. Solution, put a pillow between your legs and that will level your pelvis and reduce the amount of rolling around your legs do. But I get shoulder pain, why? Well simply laying on your shoulder with your arm above your head can put a lot of tension and weight in your shoulder muscles and the shoulder joint(s). Overnight this wears on the shoulder and can increase any discomfort and pain we feel. This can also bend the neck causing pain as well. Solution, have a second pillow, long body pillow or something to hold onto. This will prevent any twisting in the middle and upper lumbar spine. This will also allow you keep your arms from drifting upwards which will keep the head and neck in line with the rest of the spine. Neck pain in this position can be attributed to a change of the spinal alignment from normal to curved. To avoid pain, you should have a straight line from your head to your sacrum. Best solution is to make sure you have a pillow for your head and neck that properly supports your head.

Back Sleeper

Do you get head and neck pain when you wake up? Do your arms go numb and tingle? This is possibly from having a pillow that is too firm or large for your body. If you can imagine standing upright while maintaining that position. You would probably appear to be looking at the ground. This position stretches the muscles, nerves and joints head and neck in a way that causes pain and other problems. Solution, gradually move to a softer or smaller pillow. Best case would be to sleep without a pillow. This will allow your body to maintain a more normal spinal alignment while sleeping. End result is less pain. Low back and knee pain from this position is typically from having stretched hamstrings overnight. This happens when the knees go into extension and put a stretch into the pelvis, sacrum and lower back. Solution: put a pillow under your knees. This will take tension out of your knee joints, Limit the hamstring stretch, and reduce the pain you feel in your low back.

The Stomach Sleeper

Probably the worst position to sleep in for your head and neck! This causes a large amount of rotation in the cervical spine, which can lead to pain. Solution, get a pillow that allows your head to face down. These are rare, and from second hand knowledge not very reliable.

Low back pain has several causes from this position decreased ability of the diaphragm to move, rotation of the legs – pelvis- lumbar spine, etc. Solution, try not to sleep on your stomach! Many other parts of the body are affected by sleeping in this position such as the shoulders, knees, ankles, plantar fascia, etc. Best solution would be to slowly switch out of sleeping on your stomach.

Now there are several situations not covered here. Keep your changes simple. The best position for someone while they are sleeping is a neutral position that reduces pain. If you continue experiencing pain and/or are not getting a good night’s rest make sure to set-up an appointment ASAP.

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