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  • Writer's pictureSecond Opinion Magazine

Sleep Tight Tonight and the Next…

If you are like me, you probably have a favorite position that you fall asleep in. Mine consists of rolling onto my left shoulder, bring knees up into a loose fetal position, my left arm is straight alongside my body and my right arm is curled around my hubby. But did you know that how you sleep can affect how you feel the next day? Snuggling up wrong every night for 1/3 of your life can cause neck and back aches, numb arms and fingers, and trouble breathing, which can make you more tired as the next day wears on.

Jonathan FitzGordon, an alignment specialist, says the ideal position is on your back with no pillow. This position allows your spine to rest with its natural curves in place. But to most of us the idea of sleeping without a pillow seems not quite right and if you don’t stay on your back all night long, here are some simple solutions to help you get your zzz’s and wake up rested and refreshed.

Side Sleeper This position affects our neck, shoulders, arms, and fingers. Stretch it out: Shoulder Stretch. This stretch pulls apart your shoulders which compress by the weight of your head. How: Take your left arm and pull it across your body with your elbow straight. Hug it to your body with your right arm. Breathe and relax for 5 breaths then change arms. Do this three times each side. Pillowtalk: Look for an EXTRA FIRM pillow that fills the space between your head and your shoulder when you are lying down. The pillow should support both sides of your neck during the night. This promotes easier breathing too. Any pillow that is made of foam should be a good choice for you. When you are sleeping on your side, make sure not to bicycle your legs which can twist your pelvis and spine out of alignment. Place a pillow between your knees to help support your lower back.
Stomach Sleeper This position affects your low back, neck, lungs. FitzGordon says that this position is the worst for your spine. It flattens the curve of your lower back and keeps your head turned to one side all night, which distorts the alignment of your neck. This can all lead to lower back pain, neck pain, and headaches. Your breathing is also affected because by lying on your stomach, you compress your lungs. Stretch it out: Bridge pose restores your lower back curve and helps neck alignment. It also opens the chest and stretches your diaphragm for easier breathing. How: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet close to your butt. Raise your arms above your head and peel your spine off the ground one vertebrae at a time. Hold the position for three breaths. Lower your spine to the ground slowly while bringing your arms back up over your head to rest beside your body. Pillowtalk: If you need a pillow, choose one that has medium firmness. But FirtzGordon would ask you to change your sleep habits all around. One recommendation is to get a body pillow. Place one end between your slightly bent knees and hug the pillow to your body, which creates the same pressure on the front of your body as sleeping on your stomach, but doesn’t compress and squeeze your organs.
Back Sleeper Although sleeping on your back is the best position, it’s the pillow that creates all of the problems with this position. The pillow pushes your neck forward, which is the opposite position as its natural curve. Neck pain and headaches can be the result as well as difficulty breathing because your throat becomes closed off. Stretch it out: Towel Rolls. This stretch uses a rolled towel that is placed under the neck, which restores the neck’s natural curve. How: Lie flat on a mat or floor, roll up a bath towel and place it under the natural curve of your neck. Rest your arms out in a T, palms facing up. Relax and breathe deeply for 2 minutes, working your way up to 15-minute sessions. Pillowtalk: If you need a pillow, try finding one that is firm and as flat as possible. This will create the least pressure on your neck and throat.
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