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Monday
Feb032014

While you are Sleeping

You spend about a third of your life sleeping; depending on the position you sleep in, your nightly slumber could contribute to a range of daytime problems. Pain in the lower back and neck, numbness in your arms and fingers, as well as chronic shallow breathing can all result from sleeping the "wrong" way.


Back sleeping
Many doctors agree that back is best. Sleeping on your back is optimal for the spine and neck, because “it allows your spine to rest with its natural curves in place." says Jonathan FitzGordon, an alignment specialist in Brooklyn, New York.  
Back sleeping is healthy because it lets the mattress do its job of supporting the spine, keeping the back straight and not forced into contortions.  In a perfect world, everyone would sleep on their backs without a pillow.
Low back pain or having trouble sleeping on your back, place a pillow under your knees to help maintain the curve of your lower spine.  You might also try a small, rolled towel under the small of your back for additional support and find a pillow that keeps your neck in a neutral position.

Side sleeping
Many people make the mistake of tucking their bottom arm up under their pillow, which strains the brachial plexus, a network of nerves that controls the shoulder, arm, and hand. It's like sleeping with a 10-pound weight on your arm, which restricts blood flow and pinches nerves.  The shoulder you sleep on also gets hiked up toward your ear, which contracts the muscles in the shoulder and neck region.
The key is to keep your spine neutral. Lie on your side with your knees slightly bent and your hips stacked straight (if your top hip flops forward it will rotate your lumbar spine, which can cause pain in the low back). Place a pillow or two in between your knees so that your legs are propped about hip-width apart. Your arms can relax out in front of you or hug a pillow to your chest.


Tummy Sleeping
Sleeping on the tummy is widely regarded as the worst position. It flattens the natural curve of the spine, which can lead to lower back pain. Additionally sleeping all night with the head turned to one side also strains the muscles in the neck and can contribute to headaches.
If this is the only position you can fall asleep in, try using pillows to gradually train the body to sleep on one side. Also try sticking a pillow under the hips and lower abdomen to give the lumbar spine support.

Changing your sleep habits is not an easy task, but switching to a new position can help you wake up feeling refreshed not sore.

Sources
mayoclinic.org
Greatist.com “Bed Basics”
womenshealthmag.com
National Sleep Foundation
Wholeliving.com “Sleep on it”