Also See: Lower Back Pain
If you’re waking up sore and achy every morning and your mattress is new, you may need to reevaluate how you’re sleeping, says Scott D. Boden, M.D., director of the Emory Spine Center in Atlanta. Lying flat on your back forces your spine into an unnatural position, which can strain your muscles, joints, and nerves. “Your spine isn’t meant to be straight,” he says. “It has three natural curves: one in your lower back, one in the middle of your back, and one near your neck.” His advice:
1. Lie on your side in the fetal position with your knees bent and a pillow tucked between your legs. This will take the most stress off your back.
2. If you must sleep on your back, prop a big, fluffy pillow under your knees to reduce the pressure on the sciatic nerve in your lower back.
3. Use a small pillow or a rolled-up towel under your neck as long as it doesn’t push your chin too far forward.
4. Don’t sleep on your stomach. Sleeping facedown can exaggerate the arch at the base of your spine and cause strain. Our advice? Sew or tape a tennis ball to the front of your nightgown or nightshirt. We guarantee your stomach-sleeping days will be over.