From time to time when a new client comes for massage to address neck and shoulder pain, they are surprised to hear questions about how they lay while sleeping. Many people sleep in the same positions frequently, and some of these positions involve contortions of the spine, shoulder girdle, and neck that cause extended slight contraction of the muscles the entire time that the position is held.
Over time, this slight contraction of the same muscles night after night causes chronic tension and even pain. Sleeping with an arm under or over your head, sleeping on your stomach, or sleeping in any sort of twisted position are particularly strong culprits for muscle pain and tension.
So how can you help yourself get a better night’s sleep and experience less pain and tension during the day?
1) Make sure you are sleeping with the proper pillow - you’ll need different firmness or pillow thickness depending on if you sleep on your side, stomach, or back. A quality pillow made for your sleeping style will greatly improve a lot of structural imbalances caused during sleep.
2) Try lying in the most neutral position for your spine - side-lying - if you don’t already. Bonus points for an extra pillow between your knees, which takes pressure off your hip joints.
3) Improve the overall quality of your sleep by keeping the room cool, dark, and calm. Close your curtains, face the glowing alarm clock away from you, and turn on a fan or white noise machine to create the ultimate sleeping environment as you explore new positions to help improve your sleep...and the health of your back!