Your sleeping position can wreck havoc on your neck alignment, causing pain and discomfort. In this video, Point Performance’s Lauren Borro, DPT, explains how to correct and improve sleeping posture for supine, side, and stomach sleepers. Through simple tricks and pillow placements, you can reduce pain from poor alignment and get a better night of sleep.
For a back, or supine, sleeper, Borro first recommends making sure just head and neck are on the pillow, not your shoulders. Then, to improve spinal alignment, you will want to support the neck’s natural curve. This can be done with a towel. First, fold a bath towel in half, then roll it, inserting it into the pillow case so that the end flap is on the bottom of the roll, thus making it harder to unroll while you sleep. The towel will fit into the curve of the neck. You will have to adjust for comfort and appropriate neck positioning. The point of adding the towel is to support your head, creating a straight line so your head is not lifted upward or tilting downward.
If you are a side sleeper, you will leave the bath towel in the pillow, but then also need to add support to your hips and lower legs. Borro achieves this support through pillows, inserting a thinner pillow between your thighs and then a thicker pillow between calves. Your top leg should run parallel to the bed, thus reducing pain and strain in your hips and lower back. To corral your pillows, a body pillow case stuffed with two pillows of varying thickness is what Burro recommends.
Stomach sleeping is notoriously bad for your neck. It creates a lot of torque on your head, pushing it entirely to one side. To retrain and support those who prefer stomach sleeping, Borro recommends adding a fourth pillow to the mix, along with the towel and leg pillows of the side line sleepers. This fourth pillow can be put behind your back or in front of your stomach to prop you into a side sleeping position and prevent you from rolling.