Most of the time in Yoga, we are discussing our daytime posture and how some of these bad habits might be affecting our overall ability to stand straight, without pain and reach and bend for things with ease. Our aim is to to be able to fetch things from low cupboards, lift and move the compost bag and reach high up to take something awkward from a shelf without having to psyche yourself up for the effort this might take or go through a lot of pain or cave in a rely on someone else to do it for us.
This week we are considering what our night time position might be doing to interfere with a good night’s sleep and how it might contribute to increasing our pain, stiffness as well as shortening our range of movement and causing postural issues in the day which may exacerbate some already deep set problems you are already facing. So if you don’t sleep like a baby, you will enjoy our discussions and practice this week and next when we will be becoming mindful on what we can do to improve your sleep from a psychological standpoint.
Here is what Kevin Wade, a body worker from St John-Clark Pain Treatment Centre has to say about which he believes are the best sleeping positions and why.
This is my summary of what Kevin recommends – the pictures were drawn on my iPad with an Apple Pencil on my new paper-like screen saver which I am loving as it makes handwriting and drawing so much easier (I hope you like them):
To be avoided at all costs because of the stress on the neck. If it’s really impossible to sleep any other way, regard for the neck will mean you have to prop the body up to stop the back overly arching and allow the neck to droop down over a pillow to ensure it isn’t forced to one side all night.
The second worst position due to the strain on the hips, knees, back and shoulders.
Women with larger hips are better off supporting their waist as the hips and shoulders dig into the mattress leaving little support in the mid region.
Which side you sleep on is also important for digestion, heart function and lymph drainage so go on your left if you really have to be on your side at all.
If you lie on your side you’ll need to be propped up in the correct way to facilitate less troque on the knees, hips, back and shoulders in particular as the bottom one is pushed forward too much:
Here’s what you need to stay safe on your side:
You can can’t rest on your laurels if you’re a back sleeper because you still need to pay attention to protecting the back of your neck by having the right sized pillow.
For Hyper-lordotic folk (who have an exaggerated curvature in the low back or a big arch at the back of the waist, a pillow under the knees is essential and for the neck, a cervical roll to protect the neck and lift it gently away from the mattress.
You may be thinking that it is impossible to change your sleeping position and certainly I thought the same. I decided, having watched the first of these videos in 2018 that I understood where some of my pain and stiffness came from and I wanted to try to change from being a side sleeper to a back sleeper. I am pleased to report that it only took me 3 nights to do it! I did cheat a bit and take a Nytol each night, and I’m not recommending that, but it has sure been worth it! My neck, shoulders and back felt AMAZING and I’ve slept far far better since training myself not to sleep on my side. This is why I wanted to bring you all my top tips.
In class we will discuss all of this and we will be doing gentle somatic Yoga flows to counteract the affects that lying on your back (see 1, 2, 3); lying on your side (4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 1) and back lying (9 & 10) has on your body if the position isn’t quite right.
- Hyperextension of the low back
- Severe cervical rotation in the neck
- Misaligned (twisted hips / one sided compression of the SI Joint at the Sacrum)
- Tight hips
- Tightness in Pectoralis Minor (front of shoulder, due to it being forced too far forward)
- Intercostal muscle tightness
- Knee torque
- Side neck muscle tightness
- Loss of cervical curve
- Pelvic posterior tilt
We will also be discussing how you might improve your nocturnal postural position with addition of other props.
Next week we will move on to discuss what kind of Stress relieving practices might be very useful during the day and preparing for sleep at night that will help you to drift off and get the right amount of quality sleep for your own particular body’s needs.