Discussing sleep position with patients is an important component of care. The way someone sleeps is rarely the cause of someone’s problem, but it can be one of the many factors that don’t allow their body to recover like it should. If the goal is to provide fast, long lasting relief than all factors need to be considered and sleep position can be a big one. Here is a general rule:
For the majority of people the recommendation is to sleep in a position that keeps your spine and hips in a neutral position. In simpler words, keep everything aligned. Positions that pass this test are sleeping on either side on your back. A pillow or roll can be added between knees in many cases for side sleepers. Also for some, sleeping on your back may require a pillow or roll under the knees depending on how much mobility is lacking in the front part of the hips and your thoracic spine.
With all that being said, others may receive a different recommendation if they are dealing with specific conditions or have other deficiencies. For example, certain conditions of the shoulder or hip may not warrant side sleeping. Or in rare cases, a patient with a lumbar disc issue may benefit from sleeping on his or her stomach. Be aware that if you are waking up with increased pain, your sleep position may have to be modified.
To take this one step further we can consider other benefits besides just musculoskeletal. Sleeping on your left side promotes lymphatic drainage along with improved digestion.
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