Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial for overall health and well-being. However, many people experience discomfort and wake up with pain after sleeping on their side. If you’re someone who tosses and turns trying to find that sweet spot, you know that painful feeling all too well. The good news is that with a few easy tweaks to your sleep setup and habits, you can prevent pain and get some sleep you deserve. In this blog post, we’ll provide 16 practical tips to help you sleep on your side without pain.
Easy Ways to Sleep on Your Side
When you sleep on your side, you need a pillow that fills the gap between your shoulder and head. This provides support to your neck and keeps it from bending at an odd angle. When you’re looking for the perfect pillow, find one that fits your neck and head nicely. Memory foam or latex pillows are great because they mold to your shape. Make sure the pillow’s height matches how wide your shoulders are. About 4-6 inches high is just right to keep your spine in line.
Source: 2021 SleepStudy by AthleticRest
When you pick pillow side sleeping, go for ones made just for side sleepers, like these pillows designed with side sleepers in mind. These pillows have a special shape and memory foam inside that gives you the best support and comfort. They make sure your spine stays in a good position and keep your neck and shoulders pain-free.
1. Invest in a Quality Mattress
An old, sagging mattress can cause misalignment, pressure points, and pain when sleeping on your side. As a general rule, you should replace your mattress at least every 9-10 years. Choose a medium-firm mattress that will adjust to your body while providing ample support. Side sleepers will love pillows made of latex and memory foam, they are just right. And if you can spend a bit more, a mattress that can adjust on each side will make your side super comfy.
2. Use a Pillow Between Your Legs
Placing a slim pillow between your knees helps maintain a neutral alignment of your hips and spine. Avoid using a bulky pillow that forces your knees apart. Go for a soft one that’s about 5 inches thick. It’s perfect for keeping your knees stacked and comfy. Or, you can try a full-length body pillow, it’s like a comfort for your knees.
3. Support Your Waist with a Small Pillow
Sleeping on your side can cause a bend in your waist, straining your lower back and causing morning pain. Want to make your sleep even more comfortable? Put a thin soft pillow or a rolled-up towel under your waist. It helps your spine stay in its natural shape and takes the pressure off your back while you sleep.
4. Consider a Body Pillow
For full-body support, a body pillow can work wonders. Body pillows are oversized pillows in a cylindrical, C-shape, or U-shape that cradle your entire frame as you sleep on your side. They make sure your whole body, from your head to your toes, stays in the right position. In that way, you won’t end up all twisted and uncomfortable during the night.
5. Adjust Room Temperature
An overly warm or cold room environment can disrupt sleep and contribute to stiffness and soreness. To maximize comfort, Set your room temperature around 65°F during sleep. This facilitates dropping core body temperature for better rest. Making sure your mattress and pillows have good breathability also helps regulate temperature.
6. Utilize Blackout Curtains
Exposure to light can impact sleep quality and duration, leaving you feeling unrested. Blackout curtains block outside light to stop light from coming in, making your room super dark and peaceful. This helps your body make melatonin and lets you have a full, deep sleep. So when you wake up, you feel all fresh and ready to go!
7. Create a Quiet Setting
Noise can really mess with your sleep, make you wake up or toss and turn. But there are some tricks to fix it. You can use earplugs, a white noise machine, or special curtains that stop sound from getting in. When your space is super quiet, you can have a really deep, amazing sleep that leaves you feeling totally refreshed!
8. Stretch Before Bed
Some gentle stretching before bed can work out any kinks and help your body relax into the ideal sleeping posture. Neck rolls, shoulder rotations, spinal twists, and hip openers are particularly beneficial stretches. Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds, taking deep breaths.
9. Maintain Proper Spinal Alignment
Keep your spine in a neutral position by visualizing your head, neck, and spine stacked vertically. Avoid curling up in a ball, which can strain your back. If your neck needs some extra support, try a thin cervical neck pillow. Also, bend your knees when you’re lying down, it helps your lower back feel better.
10. Switch Sides During the Night
Sleeping in one position all night can compress muscles and nerves, leading to sleeping limb sensations like numbness and tingling. Shift your body pillow or pillow stack to alternate sleeping on your right and left sides. This ensures even comfort throughout the night.
11. Visit a Chiropractor
If your pain just won’t go away, it’s time to see a chiropractor. They’ll check to see if your spine is out of whack and causing the pain. Chiropractic adjustments might be the ticket to fixing muscle problems and joint issues.
12. Evaluate Your Mattress’s Age and Quality
Take a fresh look at your mattress to see if it needs replacing. Signs it’s time for a new mattress include sagging, poor support, and noticeable indentations where you sleep. Older mattresses lose their ability to properly cushion and contour your body.
13. Rule Out Any Underlying Conditions
Ongoing pain that doesn’t resolve with conservative measures warrants medical attention. Consulting with your physician helps identify potential underlying issues, like arthritis, bursitis, or neurological conditions contributing to discomfort. Proper treatment improves your chances of restful, pain-free sleep.
14. Experiment with Pillow Configurations
Getting pillow placement just right for your frame and sleeping style is key. Play around with pillows under and between your legs, under your waist, and at different heights under your head. Having your pillow stack customized provides stability and takes pressure off muscles.
15. Allow Time to Adjust to a New Sleeping Position
Changing your position while sleeping lets your body get used to a new sleeping position. Put a body pillow behind your back. It stops you from rolling onto your stomach while you get used to sleeping on your side.
16. Remain Patient and Consistent
Implementing these tips requires consistency and patience to re-train your sleep habits. Don’t get discouraged if finding your ideal sleeping arrangement takes some trial and error. Stick with what works and know that the investment will pay off with many restful nights ahead.
The right pillows, mattress, sleep environment, and habits can make all the difference in comfortable side sleeping. The key is finding the optimal pillow configuration and mattress to support your frame in proper spinal alignment all night long. Allow time for your body to adjust to a side sleeping posture. Remain patient and consistent in implementing lifestyle tweaks for ideal comfort and rest. The bottom line is that getting comfortable sleep is vital for your health, mood, and productivity. If you follow these tips, you can avoid pain and have a great night’s sleep on your side. Try different things until you find what feels best for your body. Sleep tight and have some sweet dreams!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I sleep on any side, or is one side better than the other for pain prevention?
You can sleep on either side, as there are no major differences in how each side impacts pain. Pay attention to which side feels most comfortable and supportive for your body. Alternating sides nightly helps prevent muscle imbalances or nerve compression on one side.
I’ve tried multiple pillows, but I still wake up with shoulder pain. What could be wrong?
Persistent shoulder pain despite pillow adjustments may indicate an underlying condition like arthritis, bursitis, or rotator cuff injury. Consult a doctor to identify and properly treat any condition contributing to discomfort. Proper mattress firmness and sleep environment can also impact shoulder pain.
Is it normal to experience mild discomfort when switching to side sleeping?
Some mild adjustment discomfort is common when changing sleep positions, especially if you’re used to back or stomach sleeping. Allow your body time to adapt to side sleeping. Supportive pillows and gentle stretches help ease the transition. If significant pain persists beyond 2 weeks, seek medical advice.