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May is Better Sleep Month

Woman waking up with back pain

How Your Sleeping Position Can Lead to Back Problems

It's not always easy to narrow down the cause of early morning back pain, particularly if you don't remember doing anything that could trigger the pain. If you haven't fallen, lifted heavy items, or exercised intensely recently, your sleeping position may be to blame for your pain. Focusing on improving your sleeping position during National Better Sleep Month in May just may help ease your back pain.

The Way You Sleep Can Stress Your Back

Your preferred sleeping may be the same one you used when you were five. Back then, you could easily fall asleep in any position and not experience any consequences. Unfortunately, wear and tear in addition to the natural effects of aging can make your back more susceptible to aches and pains if you continue to sleep in certain sleeping positions.

Positions that fail to keep your head, neck, and back properly aligned and supported are more likely to trigger back pain. Stress on your joints, muscles, and ligaments increases if you don't maintain the natural curvature of your back as you sleep.

Exploring Common Sleeping Positions and Their Effects on Your Back

Do you fall asleep in one of these positions? Here's how they may affect your back:

  • Stomach. Sleeping on your stomach may be comfortable, but it's not very good for your back. Stomach sleeping forces you to arch your lower back, which may cause morning pain. Turning your head in this position may also strain the muscles in your neck and shoulders. If you can't fall asleep unless you lie on your stomach, try placing a pillow under your hips to prevent your lower back from arching too much.
  • Fetal Position. The fetal position is a favorite of many people. In fact, 47 percent of people prefer sleeping curled in the position, according to The Better Sleep Council. Although this position isn't bad for your back, it can lead to aches and pains in other parts of your body as you age. If you wake up with aching knees or hips, try to open up your position a little, if possible. Putting a pillow between your legs may help with knee or hip pain.
  • Side. Sleeping on your side can reduce your risk of back pain, as long as you alternate sides. When you consistently sleep on the same side, muscle imbalances that contribute to back pain can occur. Using a pillow between your legs can also improve your comfort in this position.
  • Back. Lying on your back is the ideal sleeping position if you want to avoid pain. The position helps preserve the natural alignment of your spine and doesn't stress any part of your body. Adding a pillow under your legs can make the position even more comfortable if you're a back sleeper.

How to Improve Your Sleep and Avoid Back Pain

In addition to sleeping on your back or side, these tips may help you wake up refreshed and pain-free:

  • Choose the Right Pillow. Pillows that are too thick or thin can disrupt the alignment of your neck. Your pillow should keep your head in a natural position and not cause it to droop down or tilt upward.
  • Replace Your Mattress. A worn-out mattress may cause or worsen your back pain. Mattresses typically last 10 years or longer, according to Consumer Reports. It's time to replace yours if you regularly wake up in pain or if the mattress sags or appears lumpy.
  • Select the Best Mattress Type for Your Body. Price shouldn't be the only factor you consider when you buy a new mattress. Saving a little money isn't worth it if your new mattress causes you to constantly wake up with back pain. The perfect mattress should support and cushion your body without creating pressure points. The Cleveland Clinic recommends choosing a softer mattress if your hips are wider than your waist and a more rigid mattress if your hips and waist form a straight line.

Do you suffer from nagging back pain? Your chiropractor offers treatments that can help ease your pain. Contact our office to schedule a convenient appointment.

Sources:

The Better Sleep Council: Starfish or Freefall? What Your Sleep Position Can Tell You

Consumer Reports: How Long Does a Mattress Last?

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Testimonials

Reviews By Our Satisfied Patients

  • "I have been to 7 different chiropractors in the last 15 years.
    Then a friend told me about Dr. Sheffield in Austin. Even though I live 50 miles away from Westlake, I attended one of her "Lunch & Learn" luncheons and heard her speak. I heard things I had never heard before about the body as well as similar information that I knew about how chiropractic works. I was so glad I came to the luncheon that day.
    Dr. Sheffield has the most comprehensive approach I have ever been exposed to in chiropractic care. She has been getting to the root of my chronic condition and treating it and it's working. She has taken me to an entirely new level of healing than ever before. She is also very "aware" of what the body needs.
    Additionally, I feel so cared for by Dr. Sheffield. This extends to her Assistant, Sandra, also. They are both very caring people, and you can feel how much they care about you.
    I cannot recommend her enough!
    I feel like I am finally going to be well!"
    Cindy C
  • "Before visiting Dr. Katerina Sheffield, I had visited multiple chiropractors and a back specialist for almost 2 years on a weekly basis to address my severe lower back pain. I couldn’t see the end in sight. I had been thinking I’d have to get use to living with my lower back pain at just age 25. After visiting my massage therapist, Stacia Guerrero, she advised that I see Dr. Sheffield because my issues were structural, and not just muscular. Working with Dr. Sheffield, I found that her upper cervical work got right to the cause of my problem. I saw faster results in just a few months than in the past 2 years. I found her commitment to my healing process reassuring and I was surprised how quickly I noticed results. After just a few months, I feel so blessed that I found her. Thank you so much and I highly recommend Dr. Sheffield to anyone seeking chiropractic work."
    John E
  • "When I first came to the office, I was experiencing neck and spine pain that was preventing me from sleeping well. The pain was consistently at an 8 out of 10! I have seen other chiropractors in the past but with only minimal results.
    After a few treatments with Dr. Sheffield I started seeing differences in my sleep and mobility as well as decrease in the pain I had lived with for over 20 years! I was surprised and pleased that 11 consecutive weeks helped change my habits! Overall, my experience has been great and I am very grateful for Dr. Sheffield’s help."
    Bridge B
  • "I have found the last piece of the puzzle in the treatment of mid thoracic, neck pain and headaches. I’ve been on a 30 year journey with pain brought in partly because of poor posture and car accidents where I was rear ended at 55 to 60 miles per hour. ... Years later as back and neck pain set in I sought physical therapy believing this would “take care of it” and since I’m a PT myself, I had high hopes that it would. ...Becoming certified in Pilates instruction, I continued to improve some but the neck pain never stopped and the headaches got worse over time. ... At a friend’s suggestion I saw Dr. Sheffield. X-rays revealed some significant disc degeneration and improper weight bearing through the neck. Physical exam revealed mal-alignment of my atlas and axis. Treatment of these areas has finally, for the firs time in years, given me weeks now of NO headaches! I wish I’d have gotten here sooner!"
    Pam T
  • "I started seeing Dr. Sheffield because my neck and shoulder were hurting. It was a 9 1/2 out of 10. I was unable to work without hurting. In the past I have tried massage and acupuncture with no long lasting results. After treatments with Dr. Sheffield, I started seeing differences in lifting heavy boxes and setting up displays, which are integral parts of my job. Dr. Sheffield listens to you and advises you on things you can do at home to stay healthy. She is kind, sweet and always a pleasure to see. Her staff is friendly and helpful. She had made a difference in my life and I would recommend her to anyone needing help with pain. I feel so much better and found the experience at Dr. Sheffield's office very rewarding."
    Terry M.
  • "I started seeing Dr. Sheffield after being encouraged time and time again by a friend of mine. For over a decade I had struggled with neck pain and headaches so intense I would vomit form the pain. I’ve tried everything- steroid shots, volume shots, all kinds of drugs- and nothing touched the pain. I own a construction company so you can imagine how difficult it was to maintain my normal work load while dealing with these episodes. I stay very busy with intense activities like building homes and competing in 3 day nonstop ultra marathons which tend to aggravate my symptoms. Dr. Sheffield took the time to teach me proper ergonomics to maintain my adjustments. Being consistent and following her treatment plan over the last 2 months has allowed my headaches and neck pain to become manageable for the first time ever. It’s working and that makes it worth the 2 hour drive each way."
    David L
  • "I first came to Dr. Sheffield after an open-minded doctor who chooses to treat, rather than just medicate, recommended her to me. Because it is as much as it is a 175-mile round trip from my house, I had intended to be open minded enough to try it.

    Because of a lifetime of injuries from a gun shot wound to the mouth as a child, to oil field and construction injuries, plus 40+ years as a stone mason etc pain was a way of life, but at the age of 51 heart problems and strokes limited my activities. Having tried physical therapy, acupuncture and cupping, work hardening programs and years of chiropractic treatment with the then president of the American Chiropractic Association, with each having limited or temporary relief.

    So, after being treated for only a few sessions I experienced noticeable and longer periods of relief. With 66 years just a few months away, and other health problem, I am not calling this a miracle, but your help has surely been a blessing."
    Steve J
  • "I began seeing Dr. Shefield in April. When I arrived at her office, I could barely walk. I had been suffering with extreme lower back pain for quite some time but seemed to somehow "live" with it. In the month of March, while vacationing, I actually collapsed in so much pain. Dr. Shefield sent me to have x-rays done and my L4,5,6 discs were out and I also had an Atlas mis-alignment. I had no idea how much trauma had been done to my back over a course a several years letting this problem go.
    Dr. Shefield has truly kept me from having to have back surgery. I am no longer suffering with any back pain, neck pain, nor headaches. I can exercise again and wear my heels. She is an amazing Doctor! Until you suffer back pain you have no idea just HOW painful it can be. I am forever grateful for her"
    Laura B
  • "Dr. Sheffield has been great. My first visit was based on a recommendation from a friend when I had severely tweaked my lower back , and after just a couple of appointments, I saw a vastly reduced level of pain. At this point, I leave the office feeling better than when I arrived and look forward to my adjustments. I would highly recommend Westlake Chiropractic to anyone looking for a non-invasive approach to managing their spinal issues"
    Matt B
  • "I am 57 and my back NOW feels like it did when I was 35. I have been seeing Dr. Sheffield for about 4 months now, and now I am wondering why I went to all the other chiropractors…. Dr. Sheffield specializes in ATLAS (the vertebrae closest to the skull) therapy which little did I know, when correctly leveled, can have a huge impact on the rest of your bost – like MY LOWER BACK! It used to take me a full 30 seconds to get out of my chair in my office – stretch, groan a bit, stretch some more - and now I POP OUT of my chair like a teenager. Flying on planes is NOTHING now… as it used to be my worst nightmare. Check it out guys… my wife and my 22-year-old daughter is now going to see her…."
    Johnny S
  • "A fantastic place with a warm, beautiful and friendly atmosphere!
    Dr. Katerina has worked wonders with my neck and shoulder issues. After many months of pain and surgeries, I gave Westlake Chiropractic a try. I'm certainly happy that I did!
    Thanks to Katerina, I have regained a great deal of range of motion in my spine and shoulders. I'm now able to workout and do the things that I love in life!"
    Scott M
  • "I have been a patient of Dr. Sheffield for two years. I have had surgery for scoliosis so my needs as a patient are unique. Dr. Sheffields gentle technique and pinpoint accuracy with adjustments is what gave me relief and results after years of discomfort. Headaches went away, lower back pain left and my quality of life improved. I value that she also offers holistic care and can speak to other ailments and conditions and make recommendations for supplements and other treatments that would aid healing. She is an outstanding provider!"
    Christiana W.
  • "MD recommended

    I feel very fortunate to have found Dr. Katerina Sheffield! She did a careful exam on me, including specific evaluations of spine positions and my leg lengths. The actual adjustments were very gentle but powerfully effective. I had immediate relief from low back pain even though I only needed a slight neck adjustment. Best of all, my posture is erect with no effort at all. This is effective and gentle chiropractic as I have never experienced before!"
    Moira D., MD
  • "Relief for the first time

    I’ve had chronic back pain for much of my life. Over the years I’ve seen several different chiropractors with only a little lasting improvement, and no real idea what the problem was. Dr. Sheffield was the first chiropractor to diagnose that I have a rare congenital defect causing my back pain, and she has tailored a treatment plan that is, for the first time, giving me real relief. She is a conscientious and caring doctor."
    Don
  • "Dr. Sheffield has changed my life and my Spinal health is only getting stronger and better as I keep going to her. Anytime I feel something pulling or not right, I tell her the exact spot and the symptom and she corrects it! I am constantly amazed at her interaction with her patients, her ability to make you feel you are being healed and calm at the same time. She is changing lives, let her change yours! Haylee G. Dr. Sheffield is not only a remarkable practitioner, but a wonderful person. As patients of hers, my son and I can unequivocally say she is the best chiropractor in Austin."
    Kara B. - Austin, TX