6 Tips to Help You Sleep Without Pain: Tip #1
Today we are beginning a series of 6 blogs to help you or anyone you know who may be having trouble sleeping due to pain. We will discuss several aspects of sleep, such as ways you can help with body positioning, how to get in and out of bed, how to prepare for sleeping, and more. If you find these helpful, sign up to receive our blogs directly into your inbox. Like us on Facebook, and the posts will come to your feed. We would love to hear from you if these tips are making positive improvements for you or if you have any questions.
Why Am I Experiencing Pain While Trying to Sleep?
There could be many reasons why you are experiencing pain as you sleep or when you first awaken in the morning. If medical care is needed, of course, do not neglect to get the care you require. However, there are some things you can do at home to help alleviate many sources of pain while attempting to sleep.*
Sleeping on your stomach forces your neck to be twisted to one side. When the neck is pulled to the side for hours at a time, some of the neck muscles will be shortened (tightened) and some stretched. This can be the cause of neck and headaches, as well as pinched nerves. The neck twisting can force the spine out of alignment, leading to many other issues.
People who sleep on their stomach will often experience back pain due to the fact that the back is arched, caused by gravity pulling down on the spine. This arched back puts unnecessary pressure on the internal organs and can limit the air intake through the night. Often stomach sleepers will attempt to correct the back arch by pulling a knee up to prop up the low back. When they do this, however, the hip flexor on one side will shorten, and the spine will be twisted, again causing spine and muscle issues.
Since a stomach-sleeping position forces your face into the pillow, it puts pressure on the jaw and chewing mechanism throughout the night. Over time, permanent damage may occur. Cynthia Peterson, author of The TMJ Healing Plan: Ten Steps to Relieving Headaches, Neck Pain, & Jaw Disorders said, “My patients with the worst jaw joints are often those who sleep on their stomach or on their side with their hand or arm pressing on their face.” Some of the more common mouth and jaw problems that can be traced back to stomach sleeping include:
- Hypersensitive teeth
- Periodontal disease
- Pain and clicking when opening the mouth
- Pain and tension in muscles of the face, especially upon awaking
- Trigeminal neuralgia
- Accidental biting of the tongue and lips
If you find that you cannot seem to break the stomach sleeping habit, one way to minimize the negative effects is to put a firm pillow underneath your hip/stomach area to reduce the stress on your back. If you do this, you may find that you no longer need a pillow at your head. If you do use a head pillow, use it to support your head in a downward position rather than pulling your head completely to one side or the other. You may find it more comfortable also to put a pillow under your ankles to provide even more support for your spine.
Look for our next article to help alleviate another source of pain: Sleeping with a twisted spine.
Please feel free to leave questions or comments below. We would love to hear from you!*The information in this article is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition and does not substitute for a thorough evaluation by a medical professional. Please consult your chiropractor or physician to determine whether these self-care tips are appropriate for you.