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How to Prevent Pain & Achieve a Good Night's Rest

How to Prevent Pain & Achieve a Good Night's Rest - El Paso Chiropractor


The irritating neck pain or back pain symptoms present when waking up in the morning can be a troublesome situation for many. Not to mention how debilitating and impairing the pain and discomfort can be for the individual when the symptoms last throughout the remainder of the day, affecting their work and emotions. Subsequently, if what these individuals have already been through is not enough, imagine what it’s like to return home after a long tiring day, only to realize that the pain is causing the individual to not get a proper night of rest.  

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For many people, this scenario is an all too real situation throughout their daily lifestyles. In fact, many of us are not aware that improper sleeping postures can lead to spinal misalignments which may eventually develop into neck and back pain. Although each individual’s sleeping positions are unconsciously established since childhood, these can be adjusted in adulthood by understanding the best sleeping positions to prevent neck and back pain as well as learning how to achieve proper quality of sleep.

To first recognize which are the bad sleeping postures and what causes stiffness and pain in the neck and back, you first have to understand the function of the spine.

The spine, also known as the backbone or vertebral column, consists of 24 articulating vertebrae. Each vertebra is stacked on top of each other and is connected by muscles and ligaments which help maintain the natural alignment of the spine. The spine is referred to as the most important part of the body because it functions to protect the spinal cord and nerves from shock as well as support the weight of the body to provide an upright posture. In between each vertebra, the spinal discs can be found which primarily function as shock absorbers to protect each bone from rubbing against each other. Also, these act as ligaments to hold together the shape of the spine.

A healthy spine extends from the skull to the pelvis in alignment with the head, neck and back when viewed from the front or back. When the spine is viewed from the side, there should be 3 naturally slight curves; the cervical curve (neck area), the thoracic curve (upper back area) and the lumbar curve (lower back area) that form into a natural “S” shape. These curves maintain their normal structure by two groups of muscles; the flexors (front and abdominal muscles) and the extensors (back muscles) which gently hold and pull on the spine, allowing it to have proper mobility.

A proper sleeping posture is defined as the position in which the healthy alignment of the spine is maintained while lying down where the most minimal amount of stress is being placed against the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other tissues of the body. Alternatively, improper sleeping posture places unnecessary stress and strain on the spinal muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and spinal discs, pulling the entire body out of its normal alignment. As such, this explains why poor sleeping posture can result in neck pain, back pain and even sciatica.
In order to prevent neck and back pain as well as achieve a good night’s rest, it’s essential for individuals to avoid and/or change their bad sleeping positions to fully experience their benefits. The most common sleeping postures that cause neck and back complications are the starfish position, stomach sleeping, and fetal position.

During the starfish position, or back sleeping, only the upper back and buttocks are in contact with the mattress. There is minimal support on the lower back area, and as such, it can frequently cause lower back pain. In this position, neck pain or stiffness can develop if the individual uses a single or multiple pillows that are too high, causing a misalignment of the cervical curve. Stomach sleeping is commonly described as the worst sleeping posture, resulting in pain and discomfort for the individual. This particular position generally causes lower back pain because the gravity pull from constantly sleeping on your stomach can eventually affect the arch at the base of the spine, placing pressure on the lumbar curve and forcing it into a flattened position. Additionally, individuals who sleep on their stomach tend to turn their neck on their side, leading to stress and strain on the muscles and causing neck pain. And finally, in the fetal position, the individual sleeps in a curled position which can cause overall stiffness in the back and neck because the natural alignment of the spine is being bent for prolonged periods of time, placing strain on the spinal bones and muscles.

Furthermore, side sleeping is the most popular worldwide sleeping posture and also the best sleep position to sleep in to avoid neck and back pain in order to achieve better sleep quality. Sleeping on your side and using a special sort of neck-support pillow can help properly support the neck to prevent the neck from ending up in an awkward position that can cause pain and discomfort. As adults, we are responsible of our own health and well-being, but by understanding the risks of improper sleeping postures and adjusting these to the correct position can ultimately help people get the sleep they deserve.

By Dr. Alex Jimenez


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