Sleep is something most Americans have some trouble with, particular if they're in pain. A vicious cycle develops where our pain wakes us at night, then we're more painful during the day because we're not properly rested. It's important to restore restful sleep as quickly as possible in order for our bodies to heal and repair our injury. It's important to be sure your body is properly positioned while you sleep to avoid replicating painful patterns or positions that we are in during the day. This will help us avoid night pain, get a more restful night sleep, and speed us forward in our rehabilitation efforts.
If you've already seen a therapist at Integrate 360 Physical Therapy, you probably already know what pattern you tend to fall in (read our summary of patterns here if you cannot remember). This will help you determine your best sleeping position. If you are a left AIC or are not sure what position you're in, try the following guidelines:
Lying on your left side: Chose a pillow that supports your neck and feels comfortable but that places your head a little bit higher than your spine. Lie with a pillow under your left lower ribs, and a pillow between your knees. Try to rotate your top hip forward so that your right knee is slightly ahead of your left.
Lying on your right side: Chose a pillow that supports your neck and keeps your head level with your spine. Place a pillow between your ankles and pull your top hip back so that your left knee is slightly behind your right.
See pictures of the sidelying positions at the bottom of this handout.
Lying on your back: Sleep with a very thin pillow behind your head so that your neck is aligned with the spine of your middle back. A pillow with too much support will push you head forward or up toward the ceiling too far. Sleep with a pillow or two, or even a small ottoman, under your knees. This will keep your pelvis rotated backward and take the stress off of your lower back and front of your hips.
This positioning helps to combat a left AIC pattern and can be very helpful for some PEC patients as well. Remember that in a left AIC pattern, the pelvis is stuck in right rotation, left ribs are flared, and neck is left sidebent. The above position helps to take you out of this pattern and all over-stressed structures to relax.
If you are a PEC or the above positions are not comfortable for you, try keeping your neck level with your spine no matter what side you are sleeping on. You may also try to move the pillow between your ankles no matter what side you are on. If that doesn't help your back or hip pain, try simply moving the pillow between your knees and do not worry about either knee being ahead of the other.
Try very hard to avoid: sleeping on you stomach! This puts our lower back in a lot of extension and makes us turn our heads to a very sharp angle. This is just plain hard on our bodies and will hold us in our extension-based and pain-provoking patterns. Moving one leg out to the side adds insult to injury. This rotates our already stressed pelvis and lower back and stretches out the front of the hip that is moved out toward the side.
Want to know your pattern? Know more positioning trips throughout the day? Start a rehabilitation process to help heal your body for good? Contact Integrate 360 Physical Therapy at 314-733-5000 or email Lesley@integrate360pt.com or Nancy@integrate360pt.com today!