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Sleep posture – What it is, why it matters?

January 12, 2022 - By Lucy Johnston

Remember all those times your parents or teacher told you to stand up straight and put your shoulders back? It was all about the importance of embracing good posture.

Well, it’s not just when you’re up and about that posture matters. Your sleep posture can also impact your health, particularly when it comes to existing issues like back and neck pain or sleep apnoea.

What do we mean? Well, let’s explore sleep posture, including what it is and why it matters.

What is sleep posture?

Posture is about the position you hold your body in, and good posture is all about keeping your spine and neck in proper alignment. Over the course of your life the practice of good posture helps mitigate back or neck pain and avoid repetitive strain injuries.

But what many people fail to appreciate is that posture isn’t just limited to standing, sitting or moving, it’s also about the way you lie and ultimately the position you sleep in.

The latter is what’s known as sleep posture, and it too can have major impacts on your health.

Why sleep posture matters

As the University of Rochester Medical Centre explains, the muscles and ligaments of your back relax and heal while you are sleeping, which makes good sleep posture critical.

They go on to explain, regardless of your sleep position, good sleep posture is about keeping your ears, shoulders and hips aligned.

Here are some of their tips for ensuring that’s the case.

Back sleepers – In addition to a pillow that supports your head, back sleepers can place a pillow beneath their knees to take pressure off the lower back.

Stomach sleepers – Sleeping on your stomach can put pressure on your back and particularly your neck. To alleviate this, position a pillow beneath your stomach or pelvis.

Side sleepers – A pillow positioned between your knees can help alleviate strain on your hips and lower back.

Move as one unit – When rolling over in bed, try to turn your body as one unit. This involves tightening your stomach muscles and bending your knees towards your chest as you roll.

Sleep posture essentials

If you’re looking to maintain good sleep posture, there are a series of items that can assist, including:

A quality mattress – Your mattress should be firm but not too hard and will allow you to awaken feeling rested and rejuvenated. Its job is to support your spine and cater to the curves of your body as you sleep.

A quality pillow – Your pillow should support your head and neck while you sleep, but the profile of your pillow might vary depending on your sleep style.

For example, if you are a stomach sleeper, a flatter pillow is preferred, but if you sleep on your back it should be a bit thicker but not so high that it causes muscle strain on your neck, shoulders and back.

You can view our range of sleep solutions that are designed to foster good sleep posture here.