Sleeping on your front: Sleep tips series 2/6
Sleeping on your front: The second of our sleep tips blog series…
In our previous blog we discussed the general tips to getting the best out of a good night’s sleep.
As we aim to now focus on some of the more biomechanical considerations with sleep, we will discuss more about sleeping on your front in this blog. In the next blog we will then discuss side sleeping tips.
The following video was filmed late in 2018. It’s cheesy, it uses our old branding, but we hope you like it… See you on the other side for more information…
Sleeping on your front: Sleep tips
You can probably tell from our above video that we aren’t going to say that sleeping on your front is a good thing for your posture. Let’s find out why
Why is sleeping on your front not the greatest for your posture?
Sleeping on your front is considered a contributing factor towards poor sleep hygiene.
It’s easy to see why once you take the time to think it through. In order to breathe, you’re more likely to turn your head to the side or sleep on your arm. To stop your knees from digging into the bed too, you’re more likely twisting your low back and legs. You may even be opening your legs with one bent to raise your pelvis up. Common sleep postures for sleeping on your front often involve lots of additional pillows for knees, pelvis, hips or arms.
What are the real risks of sleeping on your front?
Due to the sustained poor posture, it is common for muscle tightness and restrictions to occur. In the neck this may lead to headaches or migraines. Elsewhere it may lead to constrictions or compressions of other structures such as nerves or connective tissues. Certain types of arthritis may ensue from the additional pressure or wear and tear on joints. There is some thought that discs could also be more likely to degenerate or herniate also, especially in those with underlying health issues. The big thing we see in our clinic though that we attribute to sleeping on your front is ‘tight shoulders’ or ‘stiffness’ in the neck, low back or hips.
Why can sleeping on your front be comfortable even if it is not the best posture?
There are often two answers to this question.
The first is habit.
The second, we find, is usually because your body is adapting to something biomechanical in nature that is going on in your body. Please see our ‘Gapping the Pelvis’ video for more information on how this can be comfortable and also why it can not always be a good thing.
How can you improve your front sleeping posture if you can’t sleep on your side or back?
There are lots of websites devoted to giving tips and tricks here, often with links to expensive pillows or products.
The best advice however is to avoid sleeping on your front altogether. Yes, this advice may mean a few rough nights as you change your sleeping routine. However in the long term you are taking out a whole host of twist on your spine, limbs, head, neck (everywhere!)
We’re not linking to any of the other websites out there on this blog post. Please do be advised though is that we do not recommend or support any products for front sleeping at present.
If you must sleep on your front however, the general principles are to keep your spine as level as you can. You want to reduce the twist in your hips and also in your neck. Thinner pillows or pillows with faceholes would be recommended. However, for the sake of repetition, we would advise strongly to try to get on your side or back instead. Even with the best postures for front sleepers, things often end up twisted or more complex than is strictly needed.
I hear that sleeping on your front can be good for you in some conditions though. Is this correct?
There is some evidence and commentary to suggest that sleeping on your front may assist with some conditions involving breathing issues, such as sleep apnoea. However, there is definitely more commentary and research to suggest a greater correlation with musculoskeletal issues. We would also question the rationale of this when you’re having to turn your head in order to breathe!
Click here for the next sleep tips blog
In this blog we discuss sleeping on your side.
The Author and Sleep tips vlog speaker
Dr James Harrison (Chiropractor)
LL.B(Hons), MChiro, MMCA, LRCC
Owner and Principal Chiropractor at Connective Chiropractic
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