Best Sleeping Positions | Total Performance Physical Therapy

Best Sleeping Positions

December 22, 2020

It is very important that you sleep currently in order for your body to recover and let it heal from any aches or pains or damage that you did to it during the day.  Whether it is sitting at our desks, working out, lifting our kids or whatever else we do during the day it takes a toll on our body and we need sleep to recover.

When you go to bed you want to make sure that you are set up in the best possible position to allow your body to rest and recover.  While you may not wind up in the morning how you started at night, it is important that you at least position yourself to sleep correctly when you start out.

Most people if they wake up feeling stiff or sore automatically think they need to change their mattress in order to feel better.  Now this is not necessarily wrong, if you do not position yourself to sleep correctly it will not matter what mattress you sleep on.

The two positions in which you should be sleeping is either on your back or on your side.  You should not be sleeping on your stomach.  While sleeping on your stomach may be the most comfortable positions, it is very bad for your body and very hard to allow your body to recover in this position.  While there are things you can buy, like face hole pillows, in order to make stomach sleeping possible the amount of gear needed is usually far to uncomfortable to make it possible to sleep on your stomach.

You can pick either one, your back or your side, however if you have certain issues one position maybe better than another.  For example, if you have shoulder pain, sleeping on your back will be the better choice.  If you have knee pain, sleeping on your back is going to be better.

Sleeping on your side

When sleeping on your side you will need to have a slide sleeper pillow.  It is a thick pillow with very little give in the pillow.  It is a stiffer pillow and will not give when you lay down because it is supposed to fill the space that your shoulder occupies.

You do not want to stack two or three pillows up to fill the space that your shoulder takes up.  You want to make sure it is one pillow, otherwise the pillows will slide on top of one another and you will use your shoulder to try to hold your pillow in place.  And while a down pillow can feel more comfortable, it will not provide the support to your neck and shoulder that you need.  You will wind up using your shoulder to scrunch up the pillow and can cause headaches and shoulder pain.

If your shoulder is hurting then you want to try not to sleep on your side even with a side sleeper pillow.  You want to give your shoulder the most amount of time to recover and sleeping on your side can impede the healing that happens at night.

But other than if you have shoulder pain, sleeping on your side is a great position to sleep in.  Once you get the thick side sleeper pillow you can be in a good position to sleep in.  It is also important to put a pillow in between your knees.  It does not have to be a special pillow, just a pillow that separates your knees and keep your hips straight.

Sleeping on your back

The other recommended position is on your back.  When you sleep on your back, the position of your legs is the most important part of sleeping on your back.  This is the time where I will recommend using more than one pillow.  You want to make sure that you stack the pillows up on top of each other so you can have a large bend in your knee and that your back can be flat on the bed.  You shoulder be able to slide your hand undeath your back it should be pressed against the bed and the way to accomplish this is to have enough pillows underneath your knees to make this happen.

Just as with side sleeping, I do not recommend using more than one pillow underneath your head.  You want to have one pillow.   It does not have to be a special pillow, just enough to fill the curve in your neck.  The side sleeper pillow is too thick to be used for sleeping on your back.

While you may be difficult to stay in the same spot all night, it is important to start out in the correct position.  The more comfortable you can start out in the beginning of the night, the more likely you are to stay in the position all night.  But even if you wind up moving off of the position you start in, even getting a few hours in the correct position can help reduce your pain.

If you or someone you know lives in Bucks or Montgomery County PA and wants a FREE consultation with a Doctor of Physical Therapy, just call our office at 215-997-9898.