Sleeping is one of the simplest and best pleasures on this earth and there’s no way you should be denied the comfort of a peaceful night. However, if you are a side-sleeper, you might disagree. Because for you, sleep is far from peaceful. And waking up is equivalent to a horrid affair of neck pain, shoulder pain, back pain, and overall body stiffness.
Never again though! We’ve got a few proven solutions for you side-sleepers that can make sleeping a pure, pain-free joy. Try these out – they are recommended by experts!
1. Get Comfy With A Leg-Pillow
Although the ideal, minimal damage-causing sleeping position is lying flat on your back, not everybody prefers to sleep that way. Sleeping on the side is the commonest position, in fact. So, if you are looking for a way to minimize the morning after aches and pains, try sleeping with a leg pillow. Dr. Jess Greaux, who is the founder and owner of the Innersport Chiropractic in the US, suggests you sleep with your shoulders open and a leg-pillow nestled between your arms, which you can hug tightly as you snooze (1). This can help release the stress in your shoulders.
When trying this out, make sure the pillow you use is kept vertically, with your arm wrapped over it, and that the base of the pillow touches the mattress. This will ensure maximum comfort. Also, since a leg-pillow is made up of hard foam or cotton instead of soft one, your shoulders will not bury into it and give rise to any sort of discomfort.
2. Throw In A Swim Buoy Or A Yoga Block
For some side-sleepers, a leg pillow might not be enough. If you are one of them, Dr. Greaux suggests that you throw in a yoga block or a swim buoy between your legs. This is an effective way to bring about an optimal hip, lower back, and spine alignment, without altering your natural side-sleeping position.
Now, you might say that “I don’t have any pain in these areas, so why should I use a yoga block or swim buoy?”
Well, it’s great that you don’t experience aches and pains in any of these areas. However, keeping a yoga block or swim buoy between your legs can reduce the stress on your shoulders, which means zero pain in this region when you wake up in the morning!
3. Get Into The Fetal Position
A slight alteration to your regular side-sleeping position can also help you. When sleeping on your side, be it left or right, draw your legs up together towards your chest to get into a sort of fetal position. Use a full body pillow between your arms and legs for comfort. But again, make sure it’s made up of hard foam and not a soft one. Sleeping in this position can be very helpful if you suffer from lower back pain.
4. Work Out In The Gym Or At Home
If your pain is deep-rooted, persistent, and has been around for a long time, the mere use of pillows or swim buoys might not be enough to control and cure it. In such cases, Dr. Greaux says exercising is the best option.
Physical therapy exercises that employ active stress release techniques can not only help you get rid of the stiffness, but can even help in pain management and reduction. Yoga and Pilates will prove to be great workouts for pain caused by your particular sleeping position. Since you don’t need any fancy equipment for either of them, you can even do these at home as per your comfort.
Alternatively, you should also try out low-impact exercises, which can relieve pain in your shoulder area. Racquetball is a great example of such an exercise, and only 30 seconds of this activity can help bring you some much-needed relief!
5. Change Your Mattress And Pillows
Often the reason for your neck, shoulder, and back pain post a night’s sleep is not the position you slept in but the mattress and the pillows you slept on. So, ask yourself – is your mattress or pillow too old? Have they developed cracks? Have they not been dusted and sunned in a while? If the answer to even one of these questions is yes, then you need to change your mattress and pillow. Sleeping on a relatively harder mattress can help with back pain, while low and contoured pillows can alleviate neck pain.
If All Else Fails…
Then it’s time for you to schedule a visit to your orthopedic. If despite trying everything, you still don’t get any relief and suffer from intense and consistent pain in your shoulders or neck, you need to get it checked out by an orthopedic. They might be able to help you by suggesting exercises that work, coupled with painkillers if necessary.
The sooner you tackle this problem, the better off you’ll be or you’ll end up with a much worse pain that is even harder to cure. So, take our advice and try every solution mentioned here.