Side sleeping is one of the best ways to maintain optimal alignment of your spine. When you sleep on your stomach, you normally have to turn your head to one side and lift up one of your arms. When you sleep on your back, it’s impossible to maintain your lumbar curve.
While sleeping on your side remains, in my opinion, the best ergonomic position for your spine, there are still three critical steps you need to follow to get your spine into perfect alignment before you start counting your sheep.
1. Check Your HipsWhen lying on your side, it’s natural to want to turn your top-side hip toward the mattress in front of you. This will rotate your hips out of position and lead to waking up with a tight low back. Be sure to keep your hips stacked directly on top of each other with a pillow or blanket between your knees if you feel strain in either hip muscle.
2. Check Your ShoulderMake sure your bottom shoulder is underneath you, not out in front of you. Don’t reach your arm too far out in front of your body. That’s how you wake up with pain in your shoulder or in your upper back inside of your shoulder blade.
3. Check Your HeadMake sure you don’t tuck your chin down towards your chest, especially in the winter time when your body is cold. This is the most natural time to want to get into the “fetal position.” Keep your chin level, not tucked down. Tucking your chin can cause you to wake up with a headache at the base of your skull.
Dr. Michael McGovern, D.C., is an associate chiropractor at Chiro One Wellness Center of Vernon Hills and contributing writer for the Be Well blog. He earned his doctorate in chiropractic from Palmer College of Chiropractic and specializes in nutrition, hormone balancing, sleep optimization, vitamin therapy and adrenal fatigue.