What Your Sleeping Posture Says About Your Health

by Dr. Rubina Tahir, DC

Lights out! After a long day you meet your pillow for the usual sleep date. Unless you participate in a sleep study, you won’t have a specific idea of what you look like when you are sleeping.  However you definitely have preferences, tendencies and sleeping habits! This means sleeping positions become repetitive, and you tend to adopt certain postures.  What category do you fit into?  The stomach sleeper, the side sleeper, the back sleeper, the 3 pillow sleeper, the diagonal sleeper, the toss and turn sleeper, or the insomniac. Sleeping position is all about body alignment. Here are the pros and cons combined with a sleep bootcamp tip to tackle bad habits!

The Stomach Sleeper:

Pros: Has been linked to a decrease in snoring.

Cons: Awkward position for the neck and back, increasing strain on joints, ligaments and muscles.  Stomach sleepers push the head and neck backwards increasing the “C” curvature of the spine.

Sleep Bootcamp:  Start on your side, focus on deep breathing techniques to relax your body as you get used to this new starting position.  Don’t get frustrated!  New habits take 2 weeks of hard work to become automatic.

The Back Sleeper

Pros: Supports the natural curves of the spine.

Cons:  Enhances snoring.

Sleep Bootcamp:  Place a pillow under your legs to relax muscles, nerves and joints of low back and legs.  This will also prevent you from rolling over into a strained posture.

The Side Sleeper

Pros:  The best position for supporting the body.

Cons:  If you have shoulder pain this position can be tricky.  Utilize an orthopedic pillow to give the shoulders a natural space.

Sleep Bootcamp:  Spray one side of your pillow with a lavender spray.  When your head hits the pillow on that side, the scent is know for decreasing restlessness and promoting a deep sleep and thus may keep you in the side position.

The 3 Pillow Sleeper

Pros:  Good for 30 min of relaxational reading before bed, or to sip a chamomile tea.

Cons:  Aggressive awkward posture, jamming the joints of the neck together.  It’s the fastest way to wake up with a stiff neck and jaw.

Sleep Bootcamp:  Use a water pillow or an orthopedic pillow with a “C” curve.  Both can be used to provide the firm feeling of having many pillows. 2 week rule applies, start training!

The tosser-turner

Pros:  Tossing and turning is not a sport and thus you are not going to win the sleeping game.

Cons:  Your body is not getting restorative sleep and you are functioning on a low tank of fuel for the next day.

Sleep Bootcamp:  This particular sleeper needs a lot of consistency.  For two weeks wake up and go to bed at the same time everyday.  In addition try 5 min of meditation or yoga, 30 min before bed to get the body and mind ready for sleep.

The Diagonal Sleeper

Pros:  Sense of control which is good for sleep habits.

Cons:  The angle puts strain on the low back

Sleep Bootcamp:  Use a full body pillow, this will keep you aligned when sleeping, try putting your leg over the pillow for increased relaxation.

The Insomniac:

Pros:  When it comes to sleep, nothing.

Cons:  Increasing frustration, will lead to bad habits such as watching tv or late night eating.

Sleep Bootcamp:  Insomnia is stubborn and you must be willing to try a combination of sleepy time tactics to win. Here’s the list:  herbal baths, herbal teas, 1 hour workout 2 hours before bed, melatonin, no electronics 1 hour before bed, meditation or reading fiction books.

The average person should get between 6-9 hours of sleep each night.  Pay attentions to the demands that you have.  If life is hectic be sure to make sleep your priority!  Goodnight.