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Is Sleeping a Pain???

Are you experiencing countless sleepless, restless nights because of pain? Are you tired of going to work feeling and looking like a zombie? In today’s age it seems that we are getting less sleep due to the fast pace of an ever-changing world. We are also obsessed with sleep. New technology (Fitbits, apple watches, etc) track our sleep and how restful each night is. Many people with chronic back, shoulder, and neck pain cannot find a comfortable position of sleep.  These individuals toss and turn until the alarm clock goes off. Muscles can’t relax if you cannot relax; that could be the reason you have pain in the first place! If you are one of these sleepless individuals, a few short tips can allow you to sleep comfortably and function better throughout the week.

I have low back pain

If you have low back pain and sleep on your side: try putting a pillow in between your knees. If you have a long body pillow put that in front of you and cradle it so that your weight is shifted onto the pillow.  These positions allow the lower back musculature to rest without strain.

If you have low back pain and sleep on your back: Try putting a pillow or two under your thighs and knees. Propping the leg up takes tension off the lower back musculature and promotes a healthy position of your lumbar spine. Leg bolsters under the legs also work!

If you have low back pain and sleep on your stomach: This is not an optimal position of sleep but try putting a pillow right under your pelvis. This will alleviate the stress of the lumbar curve and promote relaxation of the lumbar musculature.

I have shoulder pain

If you have shoulder pain and sleep on your side: DO NOT sleep directly on your shoulder. Put a pillow or body pillow behind your shoulder blades and lay back onto the pillow. This will take weight bearing stress off your shoulders. You can also place the body pillow in front you to take the weight off your shoulders. Make sure you also have the pillow between your legs to place your spine in a healthy position!

If you have shoulder pain and sleep on your back: Try placing a towel roll under your shoulders. This will place the scapulae in a protracted position which can relieve stress felt in the shoulders.

If you have shoulder pain and sleep on your stomach: Try to avoid sleeping on your stomach. A lot of shoulder pain that occurs with sleeping on your stomach will be referred from the neck since the neck is not placed in an optimal position on your stomach.

I have neck pain

Try to avoid using pillows that are too firm and less conforming. This will hold the neck into too much flexion.  Feather pillows or memory foam pillows are a better choice!

If you have neck pain and sleep on your side: You want to keep your neck in a neutral positon. The pillow should be set so that your neck is not side bending in either direction.

If you have neck pain and sleep on your back: try placing a small towel roll under the curve of your neck. I would place the towel roll inside the pillow case to hold it in place more efficiently.

If you have neck pain and sleep on your stomach: Please try to avoid this position. There really isn’t a great way to optimally positon your neck on a mattress.

Sleeping is necessary for a functional life. It affects your psychological, mental, emotional, social, and physical health. When you sleep well your muscles can relax. When your muscles relax you will notice a difference in your spine mobility and overall level of pain for the better! I hope you find this blog helpful.  If you have questions or need to address these issues further do not hesitate to stop into our clinic!

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