“Sleep ergonomics” refers to our postures and positions during sleep. They can either support our joints or put stress on them to the point where we wake up with more aches and pains than when we fell asleep. Ideally we are sleeping 7-8 hours (30% of our day), so sleep position matters!
An ideal sleep position is on your side. Tuck your knees in a bit, and consider putting a pillow between them. This helps reduce stress on the back, knees and hips. Arms can be comfortably crossed in front of the body. Try to keep your elbows below shoulder height in order to reduce pressure on the shoulder rotator cuff muscles and tendons. A full-length body pillow can also be used to go between the knees and arms. If you sleep on your back, consider putting a pillow under your knees. This helps maintain a normal lower back curvature and reduces stretching the sciatic nerve. Sleeping on your stomach is not advised, but if you must then a pillow under your abdomen can help to reduce lower back pressure.
The pillow type which is best for you depends on your sleep position. If you sleep on your side, the pillow should be thick enough to support the neck so that it is in line with the rest of the spine. If you are a back sleeper you need a pillow that also keeps your neck in line with your spine and supports its normal curvature. A good solution for finding just the right pillow for your body is the Chiroflow water-based pillow. It is adjustable to meet your exact needs. The Chiroflow pillow is available at both our Homewood and Chicago offices.
Finally, when choosing a mattress you should select the firmest mattress on which you can comfortably rest. Start by trying the firmest one available and work your way back to the one on which you feel best. Some type of cushion on the mattress may help to reduce pressure on various parts of the body.
Make your posture, pillow, and mattress work for you to support your spinal and overall health!