How Should You Really Sleep? Chiropractors in Southampton at The Avenue Clinic Discuss


Experts say there is no one right way to sleep. However, if you have neck or back pain, there are positions you should avoid and those that can help. If you sleep in the same position night after night you can actually create pain, such as neck or shoulder problems.

Lying down is important for the muscular skeletal system to recover from the day’s pressures. The proteins have a chance to get back into the muscles and rejuvenation of the body occurs, so you want to be in a healthy anatomical position when you sleep.

57% of us at least start the night lying on our side, according to a nationwide survey of more than 2,000 people performed for mattress maker Tempur-Pedic. 17% of people lie on their back with 11% of people lying on the stomach. Most of the remaining respondents said their position when they first go to bed varies each night.

Moving around during the night is common. Sleep studies have found that adults might change their position between three and 36 times a night, with the average person switching about a dozen times. The tendency to shift in one’s sleep decreases with age.

Each sleep position has benefits and disadvantages, although sleeping on the stomach generally isn’t recommended because it can irritate your neck as you have to turn your head to breathe. Lying flat on your back, for instance, may be good for the lower back but can exacerbate digestive and breathing problems—and snoring.

It is important that your joints are not being excessively compressed or your  muscles put in abnormally shortened or stretched positions and you should be aware that sleeping in the same position can cause problems. Consistently compressing the body on one side or stretching another side over time can create an imbalance and result in soreness or pain in that area or exacerbate an existing condition.

In general, for most painful conditions, experts say choosing a mattress that isn’t too firm or soft is ideal. Something that conforms to your body without creating pressure points works best. And surrounding yourself with multiple pillows usually helps. Getting comfortable when you sleep is important because a lack of sleep can cause joint inflammation and lowers your pain threshold, experts say.


If you have back pain, it can be helpful to sleep with a pillow between your knees if you lie on your side or under your bend knees if you lie on your back.

If you have a condition called spinal stenosis, it is useful to bend your knees because that brings their legs up and opens up the back of the spine and again try a pillow between the knees. Sleeping in the foetal position also helps ease pain.

Shoulder pain. Avoid sleeping on the side with the painful shoulder. Sleep on your back with a small pillow to support the bad shoulder. Or, if you sleep on the other side, hug a pillow.

Also, if the neck isn’t adequately supported, you could get compression of the nerves that go from the neck to the arm, which can cause numbness or tingling, usually with the compression of a nerve from the sleeping position.

Neck pain. Avoid sleeping on your stomach, experts advise people with this condition. Turning the neck to the side compresses the joints. Instead, sleep on your side or back.

Also try to use a pillow that is as thick as the space between your neck and shoulder, and position it above the shoulders so they don’t become hunched. Try a soft down pillow or something similar that you can bulk up and put into the hollow of your neck and support your head.

For more advice regarding how best to sleep please call or come in to see one of us.