Back pain? Sleep on your Side

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A recent article from the Louisville Courier-Journal interviewed several physicians from sleep centers throughout the United States, asking for the recommended ways to sleep for those suffering from back pain, sleep apnea, and gastroesophageal reflux disease.

It appears that the most optimal sleeping position is to sleep on your side for all of these conditions. The worst position – sleeping on your stomach.

Why? Sleeping on your side often promotes and supports the natural curvature of a person’s spine for those suffering from back pain. For those with sleep apnea, sleeping on your side usually makes it easier for you to breath than sleeping on your back or your stomach. And unless you gastric secretions rising up into your throat, you would be better off to sleep on your side if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease, according to the article.

If you are lucky enough to not be suffering from any of these conditions, I would recommend sleeping in the position that is most comfortable for you. Especially since it appears that most adults do not get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep/night. Also, the article talks about how the average person changes positions over 20 times in the night. So starting out in a particular position may not be the most effective remedy if you are suffering from any of these conditions or have any other sleep related problems.

From personal experience, I can attest that I fall asleep easiest in the worst position – sleeping on my stomach. Often, if I attempt to fall asleep on my back, I’ll be laying there wide awake for hours. However, I have noticed that my neck is very stiff from having to turn it to the side while sleeping on my stomach. And because of this, I have to have my neck adjusted every week to keep it from being too sore and stiff.

One thing I have found that has greatly impacted my sleeping habits (for the better) is the use of a really nice, curved pillow. Also, having a slightly cooler room temperature (64-68 degrees works best for me) really helps me sleep well. Finally, the most important habit I have implemented is my no electronics rule for the hour before I go to bed. Usually I spend this time catching up on some reading a newspaper or a book (obviously not on my iPhone, because that would be defeating the purpose). This rule really helps my eyes and my mind to relax before going to bed.

If you are having sleeping problems on a regular occurrence, you should consult with your chiropractor. Many times chiropractors have adjustments or soft tissue therapies that will assist you in your sleeping patterns.

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Matthew J. Shepard, DC

Shepard Pain and Performance Care

2309 E. Empire Street Ste 400

Bloomington,IL,61704

309-585-0382

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