While most of us are aware of how important a good night’s sleep is, you could be choosing a sleeping position that is doing more harm than good.
Ultimately, we want to give our body the best chance to rest, rejuvenate and heal, ready for the day ahead, but your sleeping posture could be the key to keeping you awake. Recent literature has shown a strong correlation between improper sleep alignment or ‘sleep posture’ and insufficient sleep.
Interestingly, with people who experience sensitisation of the Central Nervous System (a process where the nervous system perceives and regulates itself as being in a constant state of high reactivity), sleep and stress play an important role. Such CNS dysfunctions also increase activity of pain perception pathways, which may further depressive thoughts, pain catastrophising and perceived illness/low self-efficacy.
Both sleep disturbances and severe stress exposure are established initiating factors for chronic pain development, which is why sleep and stress management along with exercise therapy is a key treatment strategy to normalise this activity.
The basic anatomy of the human spine should see three natural curves; an inwards curve at the neck (cervical curve) and at the lower back (lumbar curve) and a gentle outwards curve at the upper back (thoracic curve). For proper sleep posture we firstly need to maintain a normal lordotic curve of the neck. If this is not achieved (e.g. sleeping on your tummy) it can lead to stiffness in the neck, tightening of surrounding musculature, pain and subsequently poor sleep. Overall the position you choose to sleep in at night can affect greatly your spinal health.
So how can Chiropractic care contribute to better sleep?
The benefits of regular Chiropractic treatment for patients with sleeping issues/neck or low back complaints include:
- Easing tension in the joint, muscle/ligaments that were causing reduced movement and function of the spine, which can contribute to restlessness.
- By focussing on correcting these areas of dysfunction pain and discomfort can be reduced, but more importantly Central Nervous System function can be improved
- Body relaxation
As we generally tend to gravitate towards one of three sleeping positions- (stomach, side or back) your Chiropractor will be able to advise/adjust your sleeping habits for better spinal health.
Along with this your skilled Chiropractor can customise and correctly fit you with a pillow that will promote healthy sleep posture. Most pillows when lying on your back do not hold integrity and therefore, the cervical lordosis is lost and the neck is flattened. This is not ideal as we are already dealing with continual stressors at the neck each day, throughout the day. Having a correctly fitted pillow will reset the cervical spine from all the daily stressors/activities we have dealt with, as well as correct “Tech Neck”.
With most people using their mobile phones and devices daily, poor posture is adopted, which creates a pattern of dysfunction we as chiropractors call Proximal Cross Syndrome.
This is characterised by:
- Tightness of the upper trapezius/levator scapula and pectoral muscles
- Weakness of the deep neck flexors and scapular stabilisers
A forward head posture is also seen in this type of postural dysfunction, with research showing that with every inch the head translates forwards it becomes perceived as being 4.5kgs heavier.
So when you sleep on your side or back with a correctly fitted pillow, the lordosis of the neck is being maintained, thus helping with the quality and quantity of your sleep.
Do you have correct sleeping posture?