The average American spends 1/3 of their life tucked under blankets. But just because you are zonked out does not mean sleeping is an inactive state; there are many biological processes and changes that occur while your eyes are shut that affect your overall health: your body is rejuvenated and repaired from the day’s damages as you dream, melatonin is released at night to control your waking-sleeping cycle, and your sleeping arrangement may leave you with neck or back pain when you arise.
But let’s focus on how your lower back and spine could be ruined by years of bad sleeping habits. Even if you make a conscious effort to straighten up during the day, your posture could still be taking a beating at night, predisposing you for spine-related disorders including sciatica during your pregnancy. But even with a baby on the way, you can get a good’s night rest. To improve your spinal health while you sleep, check out the 6 sciatica sleeping tips below.
6 Sciatica Sleeping Tips
1. Avoid Sleeping on Your Stomach: Listen-up, stomach sleepers. In this sleep position, you are placing more pressure on your back, making you more likely to wake up with those aches and pains in your back. To more evenly distribute your weight, opt for a back or side sleeping position instead. A side position is the best alternative to your stomach, as it puts the least amount of pressure on the spine.
2. Alternate the Side you Sleep on: No, not the side of the bed–the side of your body! Because the middle portion of your body is suspended in a side sleeping position, your back does not receive adequate support. Sleeping on the same side night after night could imbalance your muscles and cause pain, especially when this position is coupled with a poor mattress.
3. Place a Pillow Between the Knees: Pillows are not just meant for under your head. If you chose to sleep on your side, also sleep with an extra pillow between your legs. Placing a pillow so it lies between your knees help elevate one of your legs, keeping your spine, hips and pelvis aligned.
4. Type of Head Pillow you Need: The main objective here is to keep your head aligned with the rest of your body. In other words, you want to be in the straightest position when you sleep so that all of your body parts are even with one another. For example, in a side position, you will need a thicker pillow to prop up your head and elevate it to the same level as the rest of your body. Although this tip apply more to those looking to avoid neck pain, maintaining proper alignment of the entire body during sleep is important for your overall health and is a good habit to get into.
5. Pick the Right Mattress: This one depends on your body type. If you have a curvy body type (i.e. your hips are wider than your waist), you will want a soft mattress; if you your hips and waist are in line with one another, the more rigid the surface of your mattress the better. These specific mattresses will offer the body the support it needs and affect how your pelvis and lower spine rest, thus promoting a good sleeping posture.
6. Get Enough Sleep: Not only can your sleeping environment make or break your back but so can how long you sleep. Studies have reported that those who get less than the recommended amount of sleep per night have more neck and back problems. Aim to get some shuteye every night for 6-8 hours.
Now hop into that bed, follow these sciatica sleeping tips and get a good night’s rest without sciatica pain.