How to Sleep Comfortably and Ease Pain

Feb10th 2020

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night or in the morning with pain? We often hear some of our patients struggle with finding a sleeping position conducive to healing. Their favorite sleeping position begins to cause them additional pain, which isn’t fun. Call either of ReQuest Physical Therapy’s two Florida locations today to see how we can help you sleep better.

Back Pain

If back pain is keeping you up at night, there are several sleep positions that may help:

  • Side: Allow one side of your body to touch the mattress, and put a pillow between your knees. If there is a gap between your waist and the mattress, add a small pillow or a rolled up towel there to properly align your hips, pelvis, and spine.
  • Stomach: Place a pillow under your pelvis and lower abdomen to remove some of the pressure on your back.
  • Back: Sleeping on your back may be the best option for back pain if you place a pillow beneath your knees. For added support, you can also put a small, rolled up towel under the small of your back. Make sure your spine is neutral.

Neck Pain

If you suffer from neck pain, try sleeping on your side or on your back. If you sleep on your back, choose a curved pillow that will support the natural bend of your neck and a flatter one to cushion your head – special pillows with built-in neck support are available or you can try rolling up a towel and placing it inside the pillow case at the bottom of one end. Avoid using a stiff pillow, which will keep your neck in a flexed position and result in morning pain and stiffness. If you sleep on your side, try to keep your spine aligned by using a pillow that is higher under your neck than under your head.

Shoulder Pain

If shoulder pain is the culprit, try lying on the side free of pain, bending your legs slightly. Extend your bottom arm out and then pull it in, using both arms as you hug a pillow to your chest. Adding a pillow behind your back will prevent you from turning back onto your painful shoulder. If you sleep best on your back, use a couple of pillows under the affected arm to keep it elevated off the bed, with both arms relaxed at your sides. Make sure to avoid placing the pillows directly under your shoulder where the pain is most severe.

Knee Pain

Joint pain in the knees typically worsens at night, when joints swell due to lack of movement. If you are experiencing knee pain while trying to sleep, try placing a pillow between your knees if you sleep on your side, or under your knees if you sleep on your back. A firm mattress with a foam pillow top will help evenly distribute your weight and keep your joints in alignment.

Proper Body Alignment

No matter what sleep position you choose, proper body alignment is key. To accomplish this, focus on aligning your ears, shoulders, and hips, filling in the gaps with pillows. Also remember to move your entire body at the same time when turning in bed (also known as “log rolling”), keeping your core area/stomach tight, or bring your knees in to your chest as you turn over.

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