You may have heard that sleep is beneficial to rejuvenate the mind and spirit. However, are you aware that a good night’s sleep also affects tissue healing after injury? Believe it or not, while you are sleeping, your body increases blood flow to your damaged tissue to promote healing. In addition, growth hormone is released to rejuvenate cells and repair your musculature.
Therefore, when you are injured, it is even more vital to get some good shut eye and nutrients! When an individual is in pain, it may be difficult to find a position of comfort. As everyone’s aches and pains are different, the sleeping position should be unique to the individual. A physical therapist can help determine the most optimal sleeping position for your condition. In the meantime, there are several basic adjustments you can make to promote comfort.
Lying on your back may be an excellent position for individuals with low back pain or extremity injuries as your head, neck, and spine rest in a neutral position, resulting in even pressure distribution over a greater surface area. It is recommended to place 1-3 pillows under your thighs and knees to prevent excessive arching in the low back and a pillow to support your head.
If you are uncomfortable on your back, side sleeping is the next best alternative. It may also be the sleeping position of choice for individuals who snore, as side sleeping increases opening of respiratory pathways. When sleeping on your side, it is best to place a large, firm pillow between the knees and hug a second pillow to your chest. This reduces the pressure on any bony prominences such as your knees and elbows.
Stomach sleeping should be a last resort, as sleeping on your stomach flattens the normal curvatures of your spine resulting in excessive compression of each spinal segment. If you are unable to fall asleep on your back or side, placing a pillow under your stomach may reduce the amount of compression on your low back.