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Health & Longevity

What Are the Best Sleep Positions for Reducing Back, Neck, and Limb Pain?

How you sleep can affect how well you sleep. Sleeping in the wrong position can cause cramping, pain, and numbness. In the worst cases, sleeping in the wrong position exacerbates circulatory and nerve conditions, leading to severe complications.

In this article, we look at four types of pain—back, neck, arm, and leg—and the best sleeping positions for those whose sleep is disturbed by pain.

Sleep Positions for Back Pain

Back pain is one of the most common health complaints, both for otherwise healthy people and for people who are bedridden or suffering from other health issues. Whatever the cause of back pain, it is made worse by a poor sleeping position that puts the spine and the neck out of alignment. A misaligned spine puts excessive pressure on the bones and muscles of the back, leading to pain during the night and the following day.

The simplest way to ensure that your back is aligned correctly is to sleep on your back. Lying face-up with your arms beside you, which is referred to as the supine position by medical professionals, helps to align your back, neck, and head in neutral positions that put the least strain on your back.

In some cases, sleeping on your back might make lower back pain worse, in which case you may consider putting a pillow under your knees or using the adjustments of a home hospital bed to lift your knees slightly. Raising the knees like this helps the spine to maintain its natural curvature.

In all cases, it’s vital to use pillows and a mattress that provides the right amount of support. The Supernal Sleep System includes mattresses engineered to correctly support the back and the limbs, reducing the damaging forces caused by poor support and helping to avoid back pain.

Does your back pain make it difficult for you to lower yourself into a supine position or to sit up after lying down? You may benefit from a home hospital bed such as the Supernal 5. This bed includes an electronic head adjustment that can gently raise and lower the top of the bed, in addition to foot, height (Hi-Low), and tilt adjustments.

Sleep Positions for Neck Pain

Much like back pain, neck pain is often caused or made worse by the misalignment of your spine. If you often wake up with stiffness and pain in your neck, the cause may well be sleeping in a position that puts pressure on the joints and muscles of the neck.

If you have neck pain that is caused by a different condition or injury, correct positioning may reduce the pain while you are in bed and help you to heal more quickly.

Both sleeping on your back and sleeping on your side can help with neck pain. But, however you sleep, you must ensure that your head is supported well enough to keep your neck aligned. It should not droop to either side on the pillow. Your chin should not be pushed too far towards the ceiling or pulled too far towards your chest.

If you choose to sleep on your back, use a flatter pillow that keeps your head in about the same alignment as you would naturally hold it when not lying down. You may also benefit from a smaller pillow or neck roll under your neck.

If sleeping on your side, use a higher pillow that supports your head while keeping the neck aligned laterally. Memory foam pillows are excellent for side sleepers because they conform to your shape, supporting both your neck and head in a positive position.

Sleep Positions for Arm and Shoulder Pain

Your sleeping position can put additional stress on your shoulders, back, and arm, especially if you sleep on your side. If you experience pain and numbness in your arms or paresthesia—a burning or prickling sensation—your sleep position may be causing circulatory problems or compressing a nerve.

Other conditions cause similar symptoms, including diabetes, multiple sclerosis, stroke, injuries, and more.

Sleeping on your back can reduce the occurrence of arm and shoulder pain, and it is worth trying to change your sleeping position to find out if the symptoms are alleviated. However, if you experience persistent arm and hand pain or numbness, consult a medical professional.

Sleep Positions for Leg Pain

Leg pain and numbness while sleeping may be a minor irritation caused by a position that restricts blood flow. But it may also be the consequence of a more serious circulatory problem.

Less severe leg pains can be caused by sleeping with your legs crossed or in another position that compresses nerves and blood vessels. Laying on back with your legs next to each other may help, as may lifting your knees slightly with a pillow or hospital bed adjustment to make sure your legs and back are properly aligned.

Leg cramps are a common issue and can be caused by a whole host of conditions, including pregnancy, aging, the side effects of medication, and long periods of inactivity. Changing position, regularly stretching and exercising can reduce leg cramps, but if they become a serious problem, consult a medical professional.

Finally, leg pains and numbness often accompany poor circulation and heart disease. One of the best ways to alleviate leg pain caused by poor circulation is to lie with your legs above your heart, preventing the pooling of blood. There are various ways of achieving this position with a home hospital bed.

Beds such as the Supernal 5 feature a tilting mechanism to put you in the Trendelenberg position, lifting your feet above your head. The Supernal 5 can also be used in the Cardiac Chair position. Both Trandlenberg and the Cardiac Chair position are widely used to combat the symptoms of poor circulation.

We wrote extensively about How To Improve Circulation While You’re Sleeping or Bedridden in a previous blog article. Be sure to check it out to learn more.

If you would like to talk to a home hospital bed expert about how a Transfer Master bed and mattress can help you to achieve the perfect sleeping position, contact us today.

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Transfer Master has built electric adjustable hospital beds for the home and medical facility since 1993. We started with a simple goal that hospital beds should allow wheelchair users to transfer independently in and out of bed. Twenty-five years later, our customers are still at the center of everything we do. You’ll feel the difference.