The best sleeping positions and strategies for pain and optimal health – Improve sleep quality and find relief with the assistance of chiropractic care.

The best sleeping positions and strategies for pain and optimal health – Improve sleep quality and find relief with the assistance of chiropractic care.

10th July 2023 General Headaches and Neck Shoulder 0

A good night’s sleep is crucial for our overall well-being and health. It is during sleep that our bodies repair and rejuvenate, ensuring we wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day. Achieving the highest quality of sleep involves managing your light exposure, sleep and wake timing, nutrition, and exercise, as well as knowing which sleeping positions and sleep posture strategies are best suited to giving you those restful nights. In this article, we’ll explore some of the best sleeping positions for sleep quality, ways to alleviate shoulder and spine pain, and how to utilize pillows effectively to enhance sleep comfort. However, if you’ve had a sudden change in comfort in your usual positions, or you’ve already tried some sleep modifications with no success, it’s likely you have an underlying muscular or skeletal issue that may need treatment before you find optimal comfort.

Sleeping Positions for Sleep Quality – Choose the Right Position for Optimal Sleep

Back Sleeping: When it comes to optimizing sleep quality, sleeping on your back is considered one of the best positions. It allows for proper alignment of the head, neck, and spine. Research has shown that back sleeping helps reduce the risk of developing back and shoulder pain, as it allows the weight of the body to be evenly distributed across the mattress1. To achieve optimal comfort and avoid stressing your neck while sleeping on your back, it is important to use a thin pillow to keep the head in line with the rest of the body and avoids pushing your head too far forwards2.

Side Sleeping: Side sleeping is another preferred position for sleep quality, as it helps reduce the risk of experiencing sleep-related breathing disorders such as snoring and sleep apnea. This position also alleviates acid reflux symptoms and improves digestion3. However, it is crucial to ensure proper support for the spine and neck while sleeping on your side which means having a pillow that is the right thickness to match the gap between your mattress and head to keep your neck in line with the rest of your spine rather than dropping towards the bed or being pushed away from it.

Alleviating Shoulder and Spine Pain – Relieve Pain and Discomfort with Proper Support

Shoulder Pain: Shoulder and rotator cuff pain can often disrupt sleep, making it difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position. For individuals experiencing shoulder pain, sleeping on the opposite side of the affected shoulder is often the first strategy to try. Placing a pillow between the body and the affected arm can help stabilize and support the shoulder, reducing pain and discomfort. Similarly, having a pillow to hug your arms around while on your side can stop your shoulders from being dragged forwards by the weight of your arm into slumped, rolled forwards position. ALWAYS avoid sleeping with your arm underneath your pillow to support your head; this can irritate some of the tendons and tissues in the shoulder and is usually an indicator that your pillow is too thin, requiring you to add more height for your head and neck by using your arm.

Finding yourself with your arm under your pillow like this is usually a sign your pillow is too thin.

Spine Pain: People with spine pain, such as lower back or disc pain, can find relief through specific sleeping positions. For lower back pain, sleeping on your back with a pillow placed under the knees can help maintain the natural curvature of the lower spine, reduce tension in the front of the hips, and relieve pressure. Individuals with herniated discs in the lower back may find side sleeping with a pillow placed between the knees helpful. This position reduces keeps the hips and pelvis in a more neutral position and strain on the joints of the lower back.


Achieving and maintaining good sleep quality is essential for our overall health and well-being. By understanding the best sleeping positions and utilizing pillows effectively, we can enhance our sleep experience, relieve pain, and ensure optimal spinal alignment. Remember to experiment with different positions and pillow arrangements to find what works best for your individual needs. For those experiencing frequent pain or discomfort, it is always recommended to consult with your chiropractor or other knowledgable practitioner for management of pain and discomfort, as well as sleep posture assessment, that might be keeping you from a great nights sleep.


  1. Moore M, et al. The influence of sleep position, mattress and pillow on sleep quality for people living with chronic low back pain. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2010;11:79. doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-79.
  2. Gonçalves M, et al. The Influence of Different Pillow Heights on the Sagittal Posture of the Cervical Spine in Lateral Sleep Position. Rehabilitation Research and Practice. 2018;2018:1-
  3. Jacob L, et al. Sleeping position and sleep apnea: a systematic review. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. 2017;13(09):1015-1023. doi:10.5664


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