We’ve all heard that sitting at our desks improperly can create a whole host of issues for our spines (raise your hand if you just temporarily sat up a bit straighter while reading that), but what about when your head hits the pillow for the night?
Sleeping improperly is no picnic for your spine, but it’s hard to alter the sleep posture your body already naturally craves without a little guidance. For some insight on how to keep our bodies healthier while we’re getting some shut-eye, I spoke to Dr. Todd Sinett, NYC-based chiropractor and author of upcoming book “3 Weeks to a Better Back.” Here’s what you should keep in mind when you go to bed tonight!
“The greatest posture mistakes that people are making in bed is being propped in bed while they are watching television, reading or sleeping. We spend so much time of our day curled forward and hunched over our computers, smart phones, etc., that our spines are bent forward in a curved ‘C-like’ pattern. When we get into bed, we want to avoid continuing that pattern.”
Stick to just one pillow:
“Another important factor to avoid while sleeping or lying down is using more than one pillow, as that also curls the spine forward. Staying in this prolonged curled position is a recipe for neck and back pain.”
Make sure you have a comfy place to get as much sleep as your body needs:
“Sleep on a newer mattress that isn’t more than 8 years old and make sure you get enough sleep.”
Take stock of how you feel most mornings:
“You should wake up feeling refreshed and loose. If you are waking up feeling tight and stiff, it could be that you’re clenching or grinding your teeth while you sleep without even noticing, causing imbalance and pain. You can purchase mouth guards at drugstores or have one custom made by your dentist to prevent your body from suffering from the harmful effects of clenching. This could dramatically improve your quality of sleep and overall looseness of your body.”
Sleep the way your body wants to sleep:
“A lot has been said about sleeping patterns—which is best on your back, side or sleeping on your stomach? My overall sentiment is that people should sleep however they are comfortable to ensure their body gets its necessary rest. A good amount of patients will state that their back or neck pain is the cause of ‘sleeping funny.’ This is rarely the cause, but rather just the straw that broke the camel’s back. Their back pain was more likely caused by the stressful situation they thought about before going to bed, the unhealthy meal that they had, or from propping themselves up with too many pillows.”