Finding the Perfect Sleeping Posture

Finding the Perfect Sleeping Posture

If you often wake up in the morning with pain in the neck, shoulders or lower back, it is time to review at your sleeping posture.

There are essentially three sleep positions – back, front and side. Did you know that correcting a wrong sleeping posture can help you enjoy quality sleep, which affects our overall health? Since sleep is what we spend a third of our life doing, it is worth paying close attention to your sleep position. Here is what Dr Ho Kok Yuen, Specialist in Anaesthesiology, Raffles Pain Management Centre advises for sleeping positions, as well as ways to modify them for more restful sleep.

On Your Back

Pros: Sleeping on the back is the best position as the spine is in a neutral state.

Cons: This position is not ideal for snorers and those with sleep apnoea.

Modification: Use a memory foam pillow or feather pillow that can conform to the shape of the head and neck. Avoid using a pillow that is too stiff or thick.

On Your Side

Pros: This position helps to prevent snoring as this keeps the airways open. It is also the recommended position for pregnant women.

Cons: Your spine is arched and not in the neutral position.

Modification: The spine can be kept neutral by using a pillow that is more rounded and slightly higher under the neck than at the head. Place a pillow or bolster between the knees to help keep the lower back neutral.

On Your Front

Cons: It is best to avoid sleeping facing down (on the front) as it arches the back, while the neck has to be turned to the side to rest on the pillow. This can lead to pain and stiffness of the neck and lower back in the morning.

Modification: If you cannot sleep any other way, place an extra pillow under your chest if you prefer to rest your head on a pillow. This will reduce the strain on your neck. Otherwise, go without a pillow under your head. Place a pillow under the pelvis and hips to reduce back strain.

Select the Perfect Mattress and Pillow

By Dr David Choy, Specialist in Neurosurgery, Raffles Neuroscience Centre

When selecting a mattress, look for comfort and support. Choose a mattress that is made of individually pocketed coils. Such mattresses provide better support to the spine because the individually pocketed coils will be able to support different parts of the body adequately; considering some parts of our body are heavier than others (e.g. shoulders and hips are heavier than the waist and chest).

When it comes to pillows, fluffy ones such as feather or down pillows are generally better. Foam type pillows may only be able to provide good support when they are new. However, foam loses its supportiveness as time passes. It is advisable that one tries to maintain a relatively straight neck posture when sleeping on the side.