How to have better sleeping posture and sleep comfortably!
By Mary Ann Wilson, RN
Posture is important, even when we sleep. Our spine was designed with these normal curves:
• an inward curve of the neck,
• an outward curve of the upper back,
• an inward curve of the lower back, and
• an outward curve at the lower end of the spine as it joins the pelvis.
As closely as possible, the normal curves of the spine should be maintained with all activities, including sleeping. Here are some tips to have better sleeping posture and to sleep comfortably:
Your mattress should be firm enough that it doesn’t sag under the weight of the heaviest part of our body.
Your pillow should support your head in good alignment.
Lying on your side:
Put a pillow between your knees to keep the hips in normal alignment. A special neck pillow which has extra support for the curve of the neck may help relieve pain. A substitute is to roll a bath towel from one end to the other and place it inside the edge, along the bottom of the pillowcase for additional neck support.
Lying on your back:
Put a pillow under your knees to help your lower back relax.
A special neck pillow can be helpful to support the normal inward curve of the neck.
When moving from lying down to sitting up at the edge of the bed:
Turn onto your side, facing edge of bed.
Draw your knees up so that your hips and knees are bent to about 90 degrees.
Place your hands on the bed under your shoulders, palms down in front of you, and use your arms to push yourself up at the same time as you bring your legs over the edge of the bed. This maneuver keeps your back in good alignment and avoids excess strain on back muscles.
The use of a pillow under your knees when you lie down keeps them in a bent position. However, over time, tightness at the back of the knees may develop, and eventually contribute to an inability to straighten the knees completely. Check with your doctor before using a pillow under your knees for a prolonged time.
Using too many pillows under your head may produce extreme neck flexion. Pillows should provide some support, but it should not be so much that it contributes to rounding of the spine and neck flexion.
Sometimes conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis affect the shapes of the spinal curves. Modifications may be necessary to achieve the best positioning for comfortable sleep. Ask your doctor for the best positioning for you. Your physician may refer you to a physical or occupational therapist for complicated positioning questions.