13th March 2020 is observed as World Sleep Day. The theme for this year is “Better Sleep, Better Life, Better Planet.”
How well you slept at night can have a significant impact on how well your day is gonna be. Because a good night’s sleep is all you need to kickstart your day on a healthy and fresh note! Moreover, lack of sleep not only affects your mood but also increases your risk of a wide range of health problems.
There are many factors that can affect your sleep right from what you eat to medicines you are taking, the quality and quantity of sleep and how stressed you are. However, what most of us tend to neglect is the basic aspects of sleep which is the sleeping position. Yes, your sleeping position can not only affect your sleep but also your back. Dr. Shikha Jain, Senior Spine Specialist, QI Spine Clinic, Mumbai shares some of the best and the worst sleeping positions for the back.
Sleeping Position And Sleep: What’s The Relation?
Not many people are aware of the fact that a poor sleeping posture can not only put unnecessary pressure on the neck but also affects your hips and back. This, in the long run, can cause lower back pain. The persistent pain, in turn, can disturb the day to day routine of a person and also affect the quality of sleep. This increases the risk of other health problems along with back pain and sleep deprivation. Hence, it is important to follow a good sleeping position for a good night’s sleep and stay healthy.
A good sleeping position is the one that helps you to maintain the natural curve of the spine when you sleep. Moreover, the position that aligns your neck, back and hips in a proper way when you lie down are considered to be the best. This is because it maintains the natural curve and does not put added pressure on the back and spine when you fall asleep.
The Best And The Worst Sleeping Positions
Dr. Shikha Jain says that there are good sleeping positions and bad sleeping positions for the back and the spine. This is why spine specialists recommend patients to sleep either on the back or sideways, of course with some precautions. However, sleeping on the stomach or in the fetal position, which is quite common sleeping positions are a strict no-no. Here’s more on it.
Best Sleeping Positions (And Why)
Sleeping on your back: When you sleep on the back, ensure that the head, neck, and spine are in the neutral position (in a straight line). This is considered to be the best sleeping position as it helps to reduce the pressure on the spine and back along with relaxing the entire body at the same time. You can place a pillow under the knees as it not only reduces the pressure on the spine due to the knees but also helps to maintain the normal curve of the spine. Moreover, this is the best position for people suffering from lower back pain as can reduce the intensity of the pain when lying on the back.
Sleeping sideways: The next best sleeping position for the back and spine is sleeping sideways. As this position may not always be comfortable, you can turn sideways when sleeping such that your legs are aligned in a proper position with the back. A good precautionary measure would be to place a pillow between your knees as it helps to stabilize the posture. If you sleep without a pillow, your body will flop down or fall forward, putting more pressure on your spine. Hence, it is advised to use a pillow when sleeping sideways. This sleeping position can benefit people suffering from stiff back, lower back pain and neck-related problems.
Worst Sleeping Positions (And Why)
Sleeping on the stomach: It is considered as one of the worst sleeping positions because sleeping on the stomach affects the natural curve of your spine. This is because the position puts the spine into an extension. It also affects the neck as the neck has to turn to one side when sleeping on the stomach. Sleeping in this position for long hours at a stretch can cause serious damage to the muscles of the neck and the spine. It is best to try sleeping on your back. Till the time you adjust to a new sleeping position, sleep with a pillow under your tummy to ease the pressure on the back.
Sleeping in the fetal position: It is a position in which a person sleeps with the knees curled up into the tummy or chest. This is one of the most common sleeping positions. However, what we do not realize is that it is an unhealthy position one can sleep in. The reason being it puts the spine in a flex, with an unnatural C-shape as opposed to the usual S-shape of the spine. It can also affect the spinal discs. Spinal discs are jelly-like structures which can cause the disc to bulge out from one side when pressure is put from the other side. So when you sleep in this position, these discs are pushed back which causes the disc bulge and puts you at risk of spinal problems such as slipped disc.
Hence, avoid sleeping in this position. Moreover, there is no way to sleep healthily in the fetal position. Try to keep the back straight and if possible the legs at a right angle. Also, do keep a pillow between your legs as it can help stabilize the body.
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Lalit Kanodia, General Physician)