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Your Guide To Sleeping Positions

OHC Hacks Sleeping Positions | Orchard Health Clinic

About 15% of the cases we see are somewhat sleep-related pain. The most common conditions which are aggravated by poor sleeping positions are generally varying degrees of neck-related injuries. In more severe and chronic cases of a stiff neck, or prolonged use of the wrong pillow, one may develop Cervical Radiculopathy or even Brachial Plexus injuries, more commonly known as ‘pinched nerve’ in the neck. This can cause symptoms like pain or tingling sensation down the arm, fingers, or hand. Poor sleeping positions may also result in shoulder-related pain like Subacromial Bursitis or Acromioclavicular Joint injuries.

So what are the healthy sleeping positions we recommend?

Assuming no health or pain conditions, one of the best sleeping positions is to lie on your back with a small thin pillow supporting your head and neck. For most people, this gets your spine in a rather neutral position. Make sure your pillow is not too high as that can put too much pressure on your spine. For people with lower back pain or tightness in the hips, it may also be helpful to have a pillow underneath your knees to take the pressure off your spine, giving your hip flexors some slack.

Another popular position is to sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees. This position supports the hips and keeps the pelvis in a neutral alignment. However, ensure that your pillow is at the right height and your shoulder should not be on the pillow. You will likely need a thicker pillow to support your head and neck too.

Sleeping on one side is also especially helpful for women with larger hips and pelvis, as well as women in mid to late pregnancy. Take note not to curl up too much into a fetal position, because this may put too much strain on the discs and restrict diaphragmatic breathing.

A small percentage of people also prefer to sleep on their tummy, but this is not a recommended position. When you sleep on your tummy, your neck is rotated to one side for a substantial amount of time during the night. This significantly increases the risk of nerve impingement injuries, and neck or shoulder pain. Instead, you can try to break the habit by adopting the quarter-prone position. This position means sleeping on your side with your bottom leg straightened out, top leg bent up, and tummy resting on a pillow or bolster. Sleeping in this manner will keep your neck properly supported by your pillow.

If in doubt, seek professional advice.

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