Marc Sanders, Chiropractor and Member of the British Chiropractic Association, provides his top tips for preventing back or neck pain while sleeping.

Have the right number of pillows

Marc says: “I often see patients who find the way they are sleeping is contributing to their back or neck pain, and often it’s their pillows which are to blame. It is best to adjust the amount of pillows you use so that your neck is in a neutral position, ensuring your neck is in line with the rest of your spine when you lay your head on to your pillow. Often two pillows, depending on their thickness, can be too many as they can cause your neck to excessively bend, whereas if your pillow is too thin, you may find that your neck is bent backwards. When we adopt these ‘end-range’ neck postures during sleep it is believed this is one of the many factors that can increase biomechanical stresses on our neck, leading to stiffness and pain in the morning”.

Choose the right mattress

The best mattress is a supportive one and it really depends on a number of factors – a 16 stone person sleeping on a mattress may not get the same support as a 10 stone person sleeping on the same mattress, for example. If you are lying on your side, your spine should be parallel to the mattress and it should not sag as this could mean the bed is too soft, or bow as this could mean that the bed is too hard“.

Sleep in the ‘correct’ position

The best advice is to try and adopt a sleeping position which creates less physical stress on your back. This could be bad news for people who like to sleep on their front, as this position can be one of the worst for putting extra strain on your back and neck. If you find that you can’t sleep in any position other than on your front, reduce the strain by placing a pillow under your pelvis and lower abdomen.

“Whatever your sleeping position, those who have a bad back should try placing a pillow under their knees when they sleep. This can help flatten the back and relieve pain”.

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