No more achy back: Find the best sleep positions to avoid neck and back pain

woman looking for the best positions to avoid an achy back

There's nothing more annoying than waking up with a back or neck pain, or worse, having it last throughout the day. People often associate back and neck pain with sleep (as in "My neck hurts! I must have slept on it funny"), and this is most likely the case. So how do you avoid waking up with a stiff neck or aching back? Check your sleep positions! It may be time to re-evaluate your usual comfort spots.

Whether you're a back, side or stomach sleeper, there are ways you can avoid the uncomfortable muscle pains. CNN researched the best and healthiest sleep positions, identified other possible side effects and provided pillow advice!

According to Mindy Berry Walker, author of 'Which sleep position is healthiest?', says the best sleep comes in the back position. This position prevents neck and back pain because you are letting your body lie naturally in a spread out position. There is no straining of a particular muscle or restricted breathing; it is an easy, comfortable and normal position. Sleeping on the back also reduces acid reflux, minimizes wrinkles, and, for you women, maintains perky breasts. The downside of the back position is frequent snoring. If you are a snorer, CNN suggests a fluffy pillow that supports and props the head up slightly so that is supports the neck too.

A side position is your next best option for optimal sleep. This also helps to prevent neck and back pain, and is especially important if you are pregnant. CNN reports that sleeping on your side keeps the spine elongated and reduces snoring. A downside could be that side sleeping can increase wrinkles due to the consistent contact of your face with the pillow. Sometimes, the side position can be awkward and you may feel discomfort in the arm, shoulder, or upper back. To counterbalance this, use a thicker pillow to fill the space above your shoulder so the head and neck are supported in a neutral position.

The fetal position is not ideal for back pain. When you are curled up all night with your knees close to your chest and your head tucked, you may experience stiffness and aches in the. Consider straightening out a bit so that you are not so tightly tucked. This hunched position can feel good initially, but can end up causing more serious spine and back issues later on.

Lastly, sleeping on your stomach can go both ways. At times it may feel comfortable and totally relaxing but in fact, CNN's 'Which Sleep Position is Healthiest?' claims that it is the worst position for sleep. Again, the spine comes into effect in that it does not allow for a neutral position for your body. It also puts a lot of pressure on joints and muscles. The main issue people tend to deal with here is the position of the head and neck. Think about it. If you have to have your head turned to the side for long periods of time or keep switching back and forth, it's not comfortable after a while! If you are going to sleep on your stomach, use a thin pillow or none at all to achieve a more neutral spine. Also, keep one leg up slightly to ensure you're not putting too much pressure on the lower back.

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