As a home visiting physiotherapist, I see many people suffering with aches and pains, particularly of their lower backs and necks. Poor sleeping posture can often contribute to pains as stresses are put on the body in vulnerable places. I often get asked, “So what’s a good mattress? Should I go for an orthopaedic one? Should I sleep on a firm or soft bed…?”
There are four main sleeping postures an individual can adopt – lying on the right side, left side, front or back. Whichever position is preferred, your spine should be kept in midline or what call neutral spine, so that there are no asymmetrical stresses on the body.
If you sleep on your side, it is recommended that you place a pillow in between your knees and on either side of your body to support the back in midline
If you favour lying on your front, you can place a pillow under your chest to prevent your neck from extending, and under your pelvis to prevent your back from overarching. Using a soft mattress and pillow if you lie on your front could cause neck and back pain.
If you lie on your back, place pillows under your knees, to again recreate a neutral spine position. Your head should be in line with your body, not too high or too low.
It is advisable that the mattress and the pillows you use are not too firm or too soft – try to find a happy medium. You don’t need to necessarily purchase on orthopaedic bed. The key with any purchase you make is to ensure that you body is in a neutral position when you lie down, by using the technique with pillows as mentioned.
95% of people suffer from back pain at some point in their lives, and poor posture is often to blame. Looking after your back is vital to a good night’s sleep!
Written by Hily Perpinyal, Clinical Director, Home Physio Group