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Better sleeping positions for neck, shoulder, and back pain

Many of my Parkland chiropractic patients ask me what is the best position to sleep in to reduce lower back pain, neck pain, and shoulder pain. this can become extremely important after an injury or car accident, where the neck has sustained a whiplash injury when it can be hard to get comfortable. Here is a video to help you find the best nights sleep.

While there is no one answer, there are several suggestions that may help you get a better nights sleep right away.

Many recommend sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees. I believe this is a great position, but there are some drawbacks. It leaves a great deal of compression onto the shoulder that you sleep on and this can lead to shoulder and neck pain by affecting the alignment of the clavicle, scapula, and neck. Many people use  a pillow that is too soft or small allowing the neck to flop to one side, or worse they use 2 or big pillows jacking your head up causing neck pain.

Others recommend sleeping on your back, bu this too can have consequences. Many use a big, or too many pillows causing the head to flex forward pulling on the neck and upper back, as well as it can affect posture. If you are going to sleep on your back, use a thin / soft pillow or even a small hand towel rolled up under your neck, and keep a medium to thick pillow under your knees to reduce pressure in your lower back.

Stomach sleeping is not recommended by anyone I know, but it can be a hard habit to break. As a bare minimum, have a body or thick king sized pillow under one side of your body so that you are angled, and not flat on your stomach with your head turned.

The number one sleeping position i recommend to patients is a bit complicated, but it works. If you get confused, please watch my video embedded in this blog.

Have 4 pillows one for your head, one for you legs, and one on each side of you. Start by laying on your side, with a pillow between your legs, and lay back on the pillow behind you. If you switch sides in the middle of the night lay back on the pillow on the other side. You should have a square of pillows around you, and while it is not the most romantic set up for your partner or spouse, it does allow for a more restful nights sleep with less aches and pains.

If you have more questions or want to meet with us for chiropractic, acupuncture, or massage therapy, please call us today at (954) 340-7545. You can learn more at

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3 Join the Conversation

  1. Luis says
    May 23, 2012 at 10:05 AM

    hello umm im only 12 and im having big time trlboue sleeping like for ex: when its too hot i stay up all night tell i cool down and i feel the hotness in my body so even a fan or air condtion wouldnt cool me down and i also dont have a fever im fine but i feel like im wearing a million sweaters on me and i alaways stay up tell 4am and then stay sleeping tell 3 pm and also i some thimes stay awake all night like today do u have any solutions for me if u have time to answer them

    • Jim says
      Apr 03, 2019 at 9:53 AM

      Try: taking a hot shower before bed - it will bring the blood to your extremities and allow your core temperature to cool off force yourself to get up before 9am - this will help to reset your circadian rhythm also get some moderate exercise through the day so that by night time your body feels heavy turn off some lights in the house and try not to look at your phone or computer very much after dark

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