Sleep Considerations & Recommended Positions

By: Rhea Tomlinson (BMR-PT, BA)

Certified in Acupuncture & Dry Needling

RYT 200 hour

 What are the best sleep positions for you? What positions should be avoided to keep your body comfortable and injury free? How do you choose a new pillow?

Read this sleep blog for our Zen Physio recommendations!


What are the best sleep positions for you?

Back or side sleeping are the safest, most neutral positions for the body to rest in.

When lying on your back you may choose to place a pillow under your knees to offload your lower back and hips.

When side sleeping you might place a thin pillow between your knees to stack your pelvis and avoid twisting through the lumbar spine and hips. If you have upper extremity issues such as shoulder pain, you might choose to place another thin pillow under your top arm to avoid forward rolling and impingement of the shoulder.

If you are suffering with an acute or chronic injury on one side of the body, it is usually recommended to avoid sleeping on that side. Try sleeping on the non-injured side or back if possible.

What positions should be avoided to keep your body comfortable and injury free?

Stomach sleeping is not good for anybody unfortunately (sorry stomach sleepers). Lying on your stomach on your mattress is a spinal alignment disaster. Your neck is extremely rotated in one direction potentially creating issues in the vertebrae, nerves, discs and surrounding musculature. Your arms are likely overhead and in turn impinging the shoulder structures. Your lumbar and thoracic spine are also likely twisted potentially creating back pain. It might not hurt you right away, but over the years this position may start to irritate your body. It is best to change your sleep position as soon as possible to promote a healthy spine and shoulders.

While pregnant, lying on your left side is most recommended. Left side lying increases blood supply to the placenta. Remember to try to keep comfortable, position changing is ok! Use several pillows to support your body. You will benefit from a pillow between the knees or purchase a pregnancy pillow to further support your growing belly.

How to choose a pillow?

Choosing a pillow can be very overwhelming. You walk into a store and there may be dozens of brands, shapes and sizes to choose from.

Our tips are to consider your body size when purchasing a pillow, if you are small, you are going to need a smaller sized pillow.

You want your neck to be in a neutral position when resting on your pillow. If you are on your back, you do not want your head too flexed up or extended back. If you are on your side, you do not want to be side flexed into the other direction. Ideally your neck is “long” and neutral whether you are on your back or side.

Price does not mean it is better. If you see a pillow for hundreds of dollars, that does not necessarily make a pillow a good fit for you (you have been warned).

Ask if you can try the pillow on one of the floor model beds if they are in the store. Ask about the return policy and if the pillow can be returned if it is not comfortable for you.

Give these tips a try and get started on getting a more comfortable and restful sleep for your health & wellness. If you have any questions in regard to this blog, please reach out to our amazing Zen team on our contacts page!



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