A woman stretching waking up in bed

How to Sleep for Better Posture


Do you wake up each morning with back or neck pain? What do you attribute this to? It is not necessarily a case of sleeping poorly or old age as you might think. Instead, you possibly don't maintain a good posture (proper spinal alignment while sleeping).

Poor posture while sleeping can result in increased tension, disrupted sleep, and poor blood circulation. This can lead to back, shoulder, and neck pain the following morning. Sadly, this pain can last all day and might even lead to chronic pain in the future. So, what gives?

The bottom line is, sleeping posture matters a lot. We can make a conscious effort to maintain an upright posture throughout the day. For instance, stretch regularly, sit on adjustable ergonomic office chairs, use recliner seats while resting or napping in front of the TV, etc. But what happens to our posture while we are sleeping? Is it possible to sleep in a healthy position? Or are there better sleeping methods than others? Yes, and the way we sleep has an impact on our posture.  

How Does Sleep Affect Posture?

Good posture doesn't only entail standing and sitting, but also how we sleep and relax. While resting or sleeping, it is vital to keep your spinal alignment in a way that supports your lower back's natural curvature. The spine generally curves in an S-shape, and it is critical to support the body down the length of this curve. Doing so eliminates any unnecessary pressure on the lower back.

Now you may be wondering, is it even possible to control our bodies while we are asleep? To some extent, that's a valid question, especially for those deep sleepers.

The Correct Sleeping Position for Posture

The best sleeping position is on your back. Always try to sleep on your back with a cushion or pillow beneath your knees. This allows your body to provide ample support to the spine. If at all you can't sleep on your back, consider lying on your side, with your knees slightly bent.

But note, whichever position you use – back or sideways - always try to keep your body straight. Align your hips, ears, and shoulders on one flat plane. Any twisting that moves either your hips, ears, or shoulders out of line may strain your spine. Even when getting up in the morning, repositioning to get comfortable, or getting into bed, you should always keep these three areas in line.  

Sleeping Posture to Avoid

First, avoid sleeping on your stomach since this can create unwanted tension in the lower back. Unfortunately, a sleep study discovered that 17% of people like sleeping on their stomachs. If you fall into this category, place a pillow under your waist, at least, to keep the spine supported.

Secondly, avoid sleeping in the fetal position since this can also add unnecessary stress to the spine. If you wish to sleep in this position, as we have mentioned earlier, bend your knees a bit without pulling them up too close to the chest.  

Other Ways to Improve Your Posture While You Sleep

A close up of a mattress

Invest in a Quality Mattress

Achieving a good sleeping posture starts with the proper foundations – and that means purchasing a quality mattress. A comfortable, supportive mattress supports your body. It compactly conforms to your spine's natural curvature, allowing your muscles to relax when you hit the hay.

A pregnant woman laying on a wedge pillow

Use Pillows to Your Advantage

Much like a mattress, a pillow can help in improving your sleeping posture. Keep in mind the tips below to get the most out of your pillow:

  • If you sleep on your back: Have a pillow beneath your knees to provide extra support and alignment to your spine. Also, the head support pillow you are using shouldn't raise your neck excessively; instead, it should conform to the neck's natural curve.
  • If you sleep on your side: Place a pillow between your knees. Also, ensure your head support pillow is aligned with your shoulders. It shouldn't be too low or too high.
  • If you sleep on your stomach: Place a pillow under your pelvic area and abdomen to reduce the level of strain on your back. Here, ensure your head support pillow is very thin, or better yet, avoid using a pillow altogether.  
A woman stretching on a bed

Relax Your Back Muscles

Make this a bedtime routine, as it puts your body at ease. The more relaxed or loosened your back muscles are before bedtime, the easier it is to attain a good posture. Particularly for the elderly or those that spend most of their day sitting on an office chair. You can relax your muscles by soaking in a hot bath or doing some light stretching. 

It's pointless to be cognitive of your posture during the day if you're not equally conscious of it while sleeping. Once you learn to sleep in a manner that benefits your spine and posture, you'll be able to experience less back pain, sleep better, and feel more rested.

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About the Author

Head shot for Brandon Landgraf

Brandon Landgraf is the Digital Marketing Manager for Carex Health Brands. He finds passion and fulfillment in creating content that enhances, improves, and enlivens others' quality of life. All of his written work is formulated to not only offer essential advice and tips but back it with proven studies and experts. His mission is to connect with readers and provide steps to make their lives better.

You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.

About Carex Health Brands

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Carex is your one-stop shop for home medical equipment and for products that assist caregivers with providing the best possible support and care for their loved ones. Carex Health Brands has been the branded leader in in-home, self-care medical products for over 35 years. Our goal is to improve the lives of our customers by bring them quality products that bring dignity back to their lives. With our three nationally distributed brands, Carex Health Brands serves national, regional and independent food, drug and mass retailers along with wholesalers, distributors and medical dealers.

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