Sleeping Habits: What may be causing your pain?
Do I need to change my mattress?
What is the right mattress?
What kind of pillow should I use?
Many times in our practice we get these questions and more on sleep positions and mattresses. We have some absolute thoughts on this, and sometimes some very vague answers to these questions.
I will do my best to give what we have found to be the best sleeping set up for you, however, don’t underestimate some potential side effects such as snoring if you start sleeping on your back instead of your stomach; or changing firmness of your mattress and your significant other not adapting to it well.
Without a doubt, sleeping on your stomach causes the most issues for people and increases the risk of causing neck, low back and shoulder pain. This causes neck pain because you must turn your head to one side to breathe. This consistent rotation of the neck really puts undue stress on the neck when you do it for 6-8 hours every night. Low back pain is caused due to the sagging of the Lumbar spine in the prone position for hours. This sagging causes pressure on the Facet joints of the Lumbar spine. We see many patients who come in with a wry neck or achy back and find out it really was caused by stomach sleeping. I can’t stress to you enough the issues with sleeping on your stomach.
Arms overhead is another concern whether you are on your stomach, side or back. Don’t do it! It can really cause a lot of shoulder pain from the impingement position of the shoulder. It can irritate the rotator cuff tendon and even the nerves. Ever woke up in the middle of the night with a dead arm? There ya go.
I highly recommend sleeping on your side or your back. The side sleeping and back sleeping reduces the chances of causing pain syndromes related to sleeping. You can still get a sore shoulder by sleeping on your side, or a sore neck by sleeping on your back, but it reduces the chances.
The next step in preventing pain syndromes from sleeping will be perfecting your mattress and pillow situation as best as possible. I will follow up this article with one covering that topic. For now, work on your sleeping position. It will be difficult to switch from stomach sleeping, but I assure you in a few weeks it will start to feel normal. I was a stomach sleeper for the first 22 years of my life and changed “cold turkey” and never reverted back to sleeping on my stomach. You can do it too!