Whether you’re working, relaxing or sleeping, the position of your body can have a significant impact on your overall health and wellbeing, as well as the quality of your sleep.
With the rise in remote working, many of us are working with less than ideal ergonomic set-ups. We’ve cobbled together makeshift home offices with what we have, leaving our bodies under a greater amount of strain and tension — and the way we sleep can exacerbate these issues further.
Poor posture while sleeping can lead to interrupted rest; increased tension on your spine, back, and shoulders; muscle strain; and poor circulation through your body. Ultimately, this means we might experience muscle tension and pain the next morning, which stays with us throughout the day. Over time, a poor sleeping position, coupled with bad posture throughout the day, can leave us at risk of chronic pain.
So, how does sleep affect your overall posture and vice versa? And how can we get in the best position while sleeping — and while awake?
The importance of good posture
Posture is the alignment of our spine and neck when we stand, sit, or lie down. Good posture alleviates back pain, prevents muscle strain, and reduces the stress on our bones, joints, and ligaments. On the flipside, poor posture can lead to back pain, spinal dysfunction, rounded shoulders, or even a potbelly.
Unsurprisingly, work is a big culprit of poor posture. Most of us spend our days hunched over our computer screens, fully absorbed in our tasks. As a result, our body position quickly falls to the wayside.
How does your sleeping position affect posture?
Good posture goes far beyond maintaining an upright position while working at your desk. We spend a third of our lives asleep, so it’s no surprise that the position we sleep in affects our overall alignment.
A healthy spine naturally curves into an “S” shape. It’s important to support the body along the length of this curve, both when awake and asleep. A good sleep position allows your muscles and ligaments to fully relax and heal while you’re getting your zzzs, promotes circulation, and ensures there’s no added pressure on your back.
How can I improve my posture and sleeping position?
Building good posture and healthy sleeping positions takes focus and time. While you definitely can’t improve your posture overnight, it is possible to take little steps to modify the way you work and rest.
Pay attention to your body position
Changing the way you work and rest takes time, but it starts with awareness. Take a minute now to check in on your posture. If you’re sitting, your feet should be flat on the floor, with weight evenly distributed through both hips. Your back should be mostly straight, your shoulders back and relaxed, and your ears should be in line with your collarbones. If you’re standing, your knees should have a slight bend to prevent hyperextension.
The same goes for the way you sleep. When you go to bed, take note of the position you intuitively assume when going to sleep, and the position you wake up in. If the two match up, this is your preferred sleeping position.
Strong, flexible muscles are essential to good posture — and there’s no better way to do that than through exercise. Exercising strengthens the postural muscles and improves your overall body alignment.
Focus on building core, glute and back strength, so your body relies on them instead of putting the pressure on your lower back. Lifting weights, practising yoga, or doing targeted workouts 3-4 times a week will help strengthen your body, and your posture as a result.
Also, don’t forget to stretch. Set time aside every hour to take a 5 to 15-minute break and loosen up your muscles, and incorporate regular stretching or yoga into your workout routine. If you find yourself waking up sore, stretching first thing in the morning could be a good solution to help loosen stiff muscles.
Adjust your sleeping position
What is the best sleeping position? The good news is: there isn’t a correct sleeping position. While some are more supportive than others, the most important thing is to sleep in a way that allows you to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Whether your preferred sleeping position is on your back, on your side, on your stomach or in fetal position, there are little adjustments you can make to ensure your sleeping position supports good posture:
- On your back: Sleeping on your back is the best sleeping position for lower back pain alleviation. Try sleeping with a pillow behind your knees to further relieve any pressure from your back. If you snore or experience sleep apnea, pop an extra pillow under your head or invest in an adjustable bed base to raise your head, to improve your breathing and relieve congestion.
- On your stomach: opt for a thin pillow, or ditch the pillow altogether to reduce stress on your neck and shoulders. At the same time, slip a pillow under your pelvis to reduce any lower back pain.
- On your side: Put a pillow between your lower legs to align your hips and back. Also, while you might have a preferred side to sleep on, don’t be afraid to switch it up every now and then. Tip: if you’re expecting, resting on your side is the best sleeping position in pregnancy.
- In fetal position: Sleep with a loose and relaxed posture, rather than hunching up into a ball. Try sleeping with a pillow between your knees to adapt this sleeping position for lower back pain.
Invest in a quality mattress and pillow
Achieving a good sleeping position starts with the right foundations — and that means having a quality mattress and pillow.
A comfortable, supportive mattress like the King Koil range supports your body and conforms to the natural curvature of your spine, allowing your muscles to fully relax when you hit the hay. The King Koil range features our patented Reflex support system that responds to your unique size and shape to deliver the level of support your body needs. It also reduces motion transfer, so you’re less liely to be disturbed by the movements of your sleeping partner. King Koil mattresses are the only ones recommended by the International Chiropractors Association.
Don’t forget about support for your neck either. A quality pillow, like the Incredible Zoned Latex Pillow or the King Koil Classic Pillow, helps keep your neck and spine in a neutral position. However, the placement of your pillow and the firmness will depend on your mattress firmness and preferred sleeping position.