Sleep Resources

Spine Alignment and Sleep

Straighten your spine and improve your sleep with these medically reviewed tips.

By Alex Reale

Mattress Nerd consulted Dr. Steven Knauf, D.C. to ensure that this article met our editorial standards


Have you ever woken up from a bad night’s sleep with a lot of low back pain, hip pain, or neck pain? While it’s not uncommon to have an occasional rough night, it’s not healthy or pleasant to have chronic back pain or neck pain after they wake up. If you’re dealing with such problems, then you might be the victim of spinal misalignment.

Back health is incredibly important, and it goes hand-in-hand with our sleep personality. If you want to avoid lower back pain, upper back pain, hip pain, or neck pain, then it’s crucial that you understand the principles of spinal alignment and how our sleep patterns can affect it. Read on to learn more.

What Does Spine Alignment Mean?

Think about how you stand or sit. You’re always told to keep your back straight and your head up. This isn’t just for good posture; it’s also meant to promote healthy spinal alignment.

Spinal alignment refers to our vertebrae and spinal column being aligned to its natural curve, ensuring that our body is in a relatively straight line, from our head down to our toes. Our bodies are designed to be kept as straight as possible, and when we don’t take the proper measures to create spinal alignment, we can risk causing problems for our vertebrae. 

Maintaining spinal alignment is important for spinal health and wellness. If your spine isn’t aligned, you risk developing significant health problems in the future, typically chronic neck pain and back pain. There are also other conditions to watch out for that are related to poor spinal alignment, which can lead to a poor quality of life.

Kyphosis

Kyphosis is an excessive curvature of your spine, which can lead to you developing a significant hunch. Not only does this lead to poor posture, but it can also be very uncomfortable.

Lordosis

Lordosis is similar to Kyphosis, but it is actually a curving inward of your lower back. Some lordosis is normal for anyone with proper spinal alignment, but excessive lordosis can be uncomfortable and painful.

Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine that can occur during puberty and growth spurts. It can result in chronic hip pain, back pain, and neck pain, and it’s made worse by overall poor sleep hygiene and spinal misalignment. For more on this, head to our best mattress for scoliosis page.

Sciatica

Your sciatic nerve runs all the way from your lower back down to your legs, and when this nerve is pinched or aggravated, it can lead to a significant amount of pain. You can find more information at our best mattresses for sciatica article, as well as our sleep and sciatica informational article.

Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative Disc Disease is a form of osteoarthritis that can take a heavy toll on spinal health and general well-being. It refers to the painful symptoms people experience in their neck or back that are caused by wear and tear on spinal discs.

People who deal with chronic pain live very difficult lives, and these problems usually stem from poor spinal alignment. That’s why it’s so important to practice proper spinal alignment before it’s too late.

How Do You Know If Your Spine is Properly Aligned?

People with healthy spinal alignment don’t experience chronic pain in their back or neck. You will also notice that you have better overall posture while sitting or standing. Conversely, if your spine is misaligned, you will experience all kinds of pain and discomfort in your back and neck. You will also have a slouch or a hunch in your posture that is easily noticeable.

If you’re someone experiencing such spinal misalignment issues and want some pain relief, then we encourage you to read on to learn some helpful strategies for fixing your spine.

How To Achieve Proper Alignment

If you’re worried about your spinal alignment and poor posture, you’ll be happy to know that there are solutions. While you can go to a professional for a chiropractic adjustment, there are various other methods and techniques you can practice in your daily routine to help with your spine.

During the day, you can take proper steps to keep your spine aligned whenever feasible. While standing, keep your head straight up, your shoulders back, and your body as straight as possible. Avoid bending over as much as you can, and if you need to pick something up, you should bend your knees and lift with your legs, rather than putting all the strain on your back.

When sitting, avoid slouching or hunching over. Keep your back straight up against the chair, with your head and neck up. If you work at a job that requires you to stay seated for a long time, then make sure you have a chair that supports spinal alignment and good back health.

While you sleep, you can take additional precautions to assist with spinal alignment. One way to do so is by assessing your sleeping position in relation to your mattress.

Side Sleepers

When you sleep on your side, your hips and shoulders can cause your spine to become misaligned. If you’re a side sleeper, it’s recommended that you invest in a softer mattress, preferably one made of memory foam, polyfoam, or latex, that will contour to your hips and shoulders. A firm mattress will push your hips and shoulders up, throwing off your spinal alignment and potentially causing additional problems.

Another helpful method for side sleepers who want better spinal alignment is to put a pillow between their legs.

Stomach Sleepers

Sleeping on your stomach means your hips will sink into the mattress. A firmer sleep surface, such as a dense foam or innerspring mattress, will prevent too much sinkage and help avoid spinal misalignment. You can also put a thick pillow underneath your hips to keep them from sinking too low so that your spine will be properly aligned.

As a stomach sleeper, you also need to consider the fact that your neck will have additional strain due to your head being turned to one side throughout the night. A soft pillow that cradles your head and neck will keep you from experiencing neck pain and assist with optimal spinal alignment.

Back Sleepers

Back sleepers will want a mattress that is medium-firm so that their shoulders and hips are supported for maximum spinal alignment. A helpful tip for back sleepers is to put a thin pillow underneath your legs to keep them propped up and aligned with the rest of the body. 

Conclusion

Maintaining spinal alignment is critical in promoting great back health. Throughout your day and before you go to bed, make sure you’re taking the right steps to keep your spine aligned so that you don’t develop annoying and painful conditions in the future. 

If you’re still experiencing spinal alignment issues, speak with a healthcare professional that specializes in a form of physical therapy, such as a physical therapist or a chiropractor, to learn more.


Meet Our Medical Reviewer

Dr. Steven Knauf, D.C.

Steven Knauf, D.C. is Executive Director of Chiropractic and Compliance at The Joint Chiropractic. Dr. Knauf began working at The Joint in 2011. After spending four years as a chiropractor in-clinic, he took the role of Senior Doctor of Chiropractic for 13 of The Joint Corp. clinics and, subsequently, was elevated to a director position at the corporate office.