ARE YOU A STOMACH SLEEPER?
What does that mean, a stomach sleeper? Well, it starts when you get into bed. What position do you get into first with the anticipation of quickly falling asleep? What is your Go To? If it’s face down on your stomach, then you are a stomach sleeper. If you scooch that pillow under your head, face turned to the side and maybe extend a knee out to take a little strain off the lower back, you still qualify as a stomach sleeper. If you are primarily on your stomach, meaning more than half of you is face down, then you sleep on your stomach with a small group of others. Only seven percent of the population likes to sleep on their stomach and since your one of them you probably feel special. Don’t. Here’s why.
UH OH...A STOMACH SLEEPER
When I hear those words in my shop I cringe. To me, Stomach-Sleeper is a synonym for pain. Specifically, lower back pain and throbbing pain close to the base of the neck or at the base of the skull. As a stomach sleeper, you are probably thin, most likely younger than the general population and in decent shape. An overweight person is uncomfortable sleeping on their belly. An older person is typically not as flexible as a younger person so back strain becomes an issue and more likely than not if you are older and can tolerate stomach sleeping you most likely exercise and stretch as a normal part of life. Stomach sleeping leads to or has already caused for you, lower back pain or neck or both. With the lower back; the natural curve of the spine, assisted by gravity, creates an indentation to the mattress that is hard to compensate for. This indentation allows for the spine to bend and compress the vertebrae to a position that over time creates pain. If not corrected it will only get worse, possibly causing numbness and tingling in the extremities. With the neck; the head is turned almost to a ninety-degree angle for extended periods of time causing strain on the vertebrae, creating pain, headaches, and stress. Stomach sleeping begins as an infant and can continue into later life, however it usually tapers off to an almost non-existent pattern with people as they grow older. People naturally shy away from pain and stomach sleeping creates it.
Change your pattern immediately. The quicker the better. It might help a little with digestion and the unpopular snorer, however, the long-term detriments created by spinal manipulation during stomach sleeping far out-weigh any reason to continue this practice. If this is out of the question for you then I recommend you have the proper fitting neck pillow for stomach sleeping (thin filling) and I recommend placing a small pillow under your belly to compensate for the lower back depression. For this to be effective the depth of the pillow needs to offset the depth of the concave to your back. You will know when you have the proper pillow fit; by the feel. It shouldn’t feel like its sticking into your gut and it shouldn’t feel as if your lower back and hips are propped up. If done correctly, the pillow should have little feel; leading you to forget about it. This will help you for long-term use or until you get older and out of shape. Then I’ll see you on your side, sleeping in the popular position called Side-Sleeper, which I will cover in my next blog.