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Suffer From Neck, Back or Hip Pain? Try These Sleep Positions

Did you know? Estimates suggest that as much as 80 percent of adults worldwide will experience lower back pain once in their lifetime. 

While certain exercises will help alleviate pain, those who suffer from chronic pain, be it in their back, neck, shoulders or hips, know that different positions can aggravate the condition, hindering sleep. In fact, according to research published in the Clinical Journal of Pain, chronic pain can negatively affect the quality of sleep, in terms of duration, satisfaction, day-time functioning, time taken to fall asleep and sleep efficiency.
Yet, while non-neutral sleeping positions can pose unnecessary stress and strain on the joints and surrounding tissues (which may lead to backaches, spinal degenerative disorders and other ailments) clinicians and researchers believe that certain sleeping positions may play a preventive and therapeutic role in the management of backache and chronic pain. 

These 5 sleep positions are most suitable for chronic pain sufferers:
1. Neck Pain
Best sleep positions: On your side, or on your back
sleep positions
The following tips will ensure a comfortable sleep throughout the night:
  • Opt for a rounded pillow to support the natural curve of your neck.
  • Use a feather pillow which conforms to the shape of the neck. The drawback is that they tend to collapse over time, in which case your pillow will need to be replaced once a year.
  • You may also opt for a memory foam pillow that conforms to the contour of your head and neck. It is believed that memory pillows foster proper spinal alignment.
  • Avoid using a pillow that is too high or sticks out, as this will keep your neck flexed overnight and can result in morning pain and stiffness. 
  • If you sleep on your side, opt for a pillow that is high on your neck and low on your head to keep your spine in alignment.  
Avoid: Sleeping on your stomach
This position is tough on the spine, because the back is arched and your neck is turned to the side. While we don't often wake up in the same position in which we fell asleep, it is worth starting the night sleeping on your back or side in a well-supported, healthy position. 
2.  Shoulder Pain
Best sleep positions: On your side, or on your back
sleep positions
Bear in mind the above mentioned tips, alongside the following:
  • Ideally keep your legs straight to minimize pressure on the spine. 
  • If keeping your legs extended is uncomfortable, flex the knees at a 90 degree angle to maintain a neutral posture. 
Avoid: Sleeping on your side without pillow support. 
3. Low back pain
Best sleep position: On your back with pillows placed underneath your knees.
sleep positions
This sleeping position minimizes back arching, reducing low back pain. 
  • When sleeping on your back, avoid crossing your legs or sliding one knee over the other as this increases the pressure on your pelvis. 
  • Avoid a thick pillow and do not use more than one pillow when resting in this position. 
  • For extra comfort, and to reduce the pressure of gravity, you can use soft physical support in the form or rolled up towels or pillows at positions where your spine tends to naturally curve - predominantly at the lower back and under the knees. 
  • Keep your arms parallel to the torso as opposed to being elevated above your head. 
Avoid: Sleeping on your stomach or on your back without a pillow underneath the knees. 
4. Hip Pain
Best sleep positions: On your side, with a pillow placed between the knees.
sleep positions
Sleeping with a pillow between your knees has a number of benefits:
  • It will prevent your upper leg from pulling your spine out of alignment.
  • It will reduce stress on your hips and lower back.
  • It will help pull your knees up slightly toward your chest,
  • Opt for a firm pillow.
Avoid: Sleeping on your back or stomach. 
5. Jaw Pain, TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome) and Headaches
Best sleep position: On your back, with arms at the side. Use a TMJ-friendly pillow.
sleep positions

While sleeping on your back can be a bad habit to get into, it has a number of benefits for TMJ sufferers. Bear in mind the following tips:

  • Use a small pillow under the arch of your spine, to make back sleeping more comfortable.
  • Consider changing your mattress. Opt for one that conforms to your body, making it a lot more comfortable and cozy to sleep on your back.
  • Your arm position should not be overlooked. Keeping your arms at the side is best. Avoid keeping your arms over your head as this can cause strain on the shoulders. 

Avoid: Sleeping on your back with your arms raised above your head, or lying on your stomach. 

Image Source: sleep-centre.ca

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