If back or joint pain causes you to toss and turn in bed at night, you know how this can impair your mood and ability to function the next day. Though it may feel impossible to find a comfortable position to rest your weary bones, adjusting your sleep style can reduce achiness, joint pain and headaches.
Drifting off to sleep in a different position may feel strange at first, but it’s worth a try if it means you’ll sleep more soundly and feel better when you wake up. Here’s how to sleep smarter.
If you have neck pain:
You may need a new pillow. A pillow that’s too thick or thin will cause the neck to flex at an unnatural angle. Aim to keep your neck in line with your spine and avoid stomach sleeping, since keeping your head turned to the side can strain your neck. If you’re a side sleeper, placing a thin, rolled-up towel between your neck and mattress can provide neck support. Contoured pillows also help support the neck in a variety of sleep positions.
If you have low back pain:
Sleeping on your back with a small pillow under your knees helps maintain good spine alignment. If you prefer in alignment with your knees slightly bent. Place a pillow between your knees to take pressure off your spine, or use a full body pillow. Stomach sleepers may be able to offset the strain this puts on the back by placing a small pillow under their stomach.
If you have hip pain:
Sleeping flat on your back or stomach can aggravate hip pain. Strategically placed pillows can help—use under your knees for back sleeping or under the stomach for stomach sleeping. Side sleeping is probably your best bet for snoozing pain-free. A body pillow between the thighs and knees can provide added comfort.
If you have knee pain:
Lying on your back (with your knees extended all night) or on your side (where your knees touch) can be uncomfortable. For back sleepers, a pillow placed under the knees helps prevent over-straightening; side sleepers can use a pillow or cloth kneepads to keep swollen knees from touching. If you want to try stomach sleeping, a pillow under your stomach can take pressure off sore knees.
Of course, it may take a few nights to develop a new sleep habit. To help you make the change, try positioning pillows around your body. One trick is to place pillows under your arm when on your back to discourage you from rolling over. If you wake up in the night out of position, orient yourself back to your new preferred position and try again. Sweet dreams!