How to Support Your Spine for Pain-Free Sleep?

How to Support Your Spine for Pain-Free Sleep? - a man sleeping peacefully

When you were a kid, you probably found it easy to sleep soundly and wake up without pain. Now that you’re an adult, something as seemingly simple as sleep has become unaccountably difficult.

You cannot ignore the importance of sound sleep as it affects your health.

Not only can it be almost impossible to fall asleep at times, but you can easily wake up with cramps, stiffness, and soreness. If you sleep “wrong” too many nights in a row, you might even do permanent damage to your body.

One of the best things you can do for pain-free sleep is to buy a mattress that gives you the support you need. Your mattress should support the natural curve of your spine so that you wake up feeling rested and pain-free.

But sometimes, no matter how good your mattress is, it’s just not enough to give your body the support it needs.

Maybe you’ve had to change your sleep position temporarily, or maybe your preferred sleeping position just requires a little more support. Using the right pillows can help make up for your mattress’s shortcomings.

Here’s what you need to do to keep your spine supported during sleep.

1. Get the Right Mattress

a white mattress

Your mattress is the foundation on which you can build each night’s rest, and you need the right mattress for your body. Your mattress should conform to the shape of your body, relieving pressure points and supporting your spine.

Choose a firmness level based on your weight, your sleeping position, and what makes you feel comfortable and supported. Take advantage of mattress trial periods to make sure a new mattress is really going to work for you before you commit.

If you’re more petite, you will probably feel more comfortable on a softer mattress.

If you’re heavier, you’ll need a firmer mattress to offer more support.

If you sleep on your side, you will need a firmer mattress than if you sleep on your stomach or back.

Here you can read a guide on how to choose the right mattress.

2. Use the Right Head Pillows for Your Sleep Position

a girl sleeping with head pillow

The quality of your head support can make a huge difference to your sleep quality and could spell the difference between waking up in pain every morning or leaping out of bed bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

Memory foam or latex foam contour pillows are the best for cradling your head and supporting your cervical spine in alignment with the rest of your spine. You should be able to lie down with your head and neck supported in a natural, straight position.

If your pillow allows your head to sag and your neck to curve downward, it’s not thick enough; if it causes your head to angle up, it’s too thick.

  • Of course, side sleepers will need the thickest and firmest pillows to provide adequate head and neck support throughout the night.
  • Back sleepers need a pillow that’s about four to six inches thick to keep the head supported in a natural position and prevent overstretching the neck (if your chin tucks in toward your chest when you’re sleeping on your back, you’re overstretching your neck).
  • Stomach sleepers require a thin pillow, or no pillow at all, to avoid shoving the cervical spine into an unnaturally craned-back position.

3. Bring in Some Reinforcements

a set of white pillows

It’s not just your head that requires the support of a good pillow. Even if you’re a back sleeper, placing a wedge pillow or lumbar pillow under your knees can flatten out the curve of your lumbar spine and take pressure off your spinal ligaments and muscles while you rest.

A wedge pillow under your shoulders and head can help stack your spine, shoulders, and hips to relieve chronic back pain.

If you’re a side sleeper, on the other hand, you need a pillow or rolled-up towel between your knees to keep your knees aligned with your hips so that your hips and spine stay in alignment instead of drooping and twisting.

If you’re a stomach sleeper, a thin pillow under the hips and abdomen can relieve the pressure that sleeping on your stomach can put on your spine.

Snuggling up to a body pillow is another great position for both side and stomach sleepers — side sleepers can tuck one end of the body pillow between their knees, and may even be able to use the other end for head support.

Stomach sleepers can get the sensation of pressure against their torsos that they’re used to from stomach sleeping while achieving the more beneficial side sleeping posture.

Supporting your spine during sleep can go a long way towards preventing back pain and even injury. With the right mattress and the right pillows, you can rediscover the sound sleep of your youth — and start waking up without pain again, just like when you were a kid.

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