As a Chiropractor the majority of my patients’ primary complaints are neck or back pain. Often times I hear the phrase, “I think it has something to do with the way I sleep.” I also get asked what is the best type of pillow to use, or what is the best type of mattress to buy. The simple answer is; whatever helps you sleep soundly throughout the night. This may sound flippant but sleep is one our bodies best tools for combating stress, disease and injury.
However, there are a couple of things to consider if you are trying to improve or change the way in which you sleep. Always we must take into consideration the structure of out body.
From a side-view our body is most efficiently situated with our head over our shoulders and our shoulders over our hips. Our neck and our lower spine have a curvature to them arching backwards. So with this in mind if you are a person who sleeps on their back then getting a mattress that supports this spinal curvature. When buying a pillow, it should not be so thick that your neck and head is being forced forwards past/above your shoulders.
From a front-to-back point-of-view our body is structured symmetrically. Our head, shoulders and pelvis should be level and our head should be oriented over the center of our body and our spine should be vertically oriented. If you are a side sleeper, then you should get a mattress that supports this symmetrical posture and vertical spinal orientation. Also when buying a pillow, it should be as thick as the length between your neck and the end of your shoulder so that when sleeping your head stays oriented in the middle of your body.
When it comes to sleeping on your stomach; I would recommend trying to create a different sleeping habit. It is not very healthy for the spinal joints or surrounding musculature to be twisted for 6-8 hours at a time.