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The Best & Worst Sleeping Postures for Your Back

Have you ever wondered if you’re hurting yourself by the way you’re sleeping?

At Canberra Spine Centre, our patients often ask us about the right way to sleep.

In this article, you’ll learn the best and worst sleeping positions and the effect this has on your spine, nervous system and overall health.

Let’s start with the ‘best’ positions. When you adopt one of these, you will be placing your spine in a position that causes the least amount of stress and strain on your body.

Your spine protects your nervous system – the controlling and coordinating system of your whole body.

When you do something to look after your spine, you will create a positive influence on many aspects of your health by having a nervous system that works better!


Back sleeping with a pillow under the knees

The next time you sleep on your back, try placing a small pillow under your knees. This support helps to maintain spinal alignment.

The position allows an even distribution of body weight and assists with comfortable positioning of the head, neck and back.

To do so, lie flat on your back without turning the head to either side. Place a pillow, ideally one with a contour that follows the natural curve of the neck, under your head. Then add an additional small pillow under the knees.

Side sleeping with a pillow between the knees

Lying on your side is a common sleeping position. By placing a pillow between the knees, it raises the upper leg restoring the normal alignment of the pelvis, sacrum (tailbone) and spine.

To do so, lie on your side with a pillow under your head and neck. If your pillow is too thick, it will be too high, placing strain on your spine and nervous system. If it is too thin, then the opposite occurs.


Now for the worst. Maybe you’re doing these already. If you understand why this is causing stress and strain you are more likely to change your behaviour.

Stomach sleeping

Sleeping on your stomach or face down puts most of your body weight on your chest and abdominal area.

This causes your abdomen to sink down, distorting the natural spinal alignment and causing spine and nervous system damage which often manifests as neck and back pain.

Also, the pressure on your body increases strain on your muscles, joints and organs.

As a result, you will need to shift position during sleep to stay comfortable, leading to more disturbed, lower-quality sleep. With a mattress that is too soft, these negative impacts will be intensified.

Lack of sleep is one of the major drivers of poor health in modern society.

It produces a ‘stress response’ that shifts your body from resting, repairing and regenerating to that of ‘fight’ and ‘flight’ which is not good for long-term health!

To ensure maximum comfort and less pain during sleep, having a well-functioning spine and nervous system will help.

As chiropractors at Canberra Spine Centre, we help people every day to achieve better quality sleep.

If you’re concerned about poor sleep due to discomfort or other factors, please call us on (02) 6257 9400.

If you would like some more information about the spine and nervous system and how it relates to your health, please check out the other articles on our Facebook page or go to our website: