Is your sleep causing you Physical Pain?

on May 8, 2020

Have you ever faced backache, lower back pain, or muscle pain, especially when you wake up on the wrong side of the bed? Having proper sleep is crucial as this is when our human body rests and is a form of rehabilitation and to avoid any physical pain. Knowing the right way to sleep is important as prevention is better than cure. We at Rehamed Therapy, a Physiotherapy Center in Malaysia, will be sharing a few of the common sleeping habits that can cause physical pain to your body.

Sleeping on the weaker shoulder


Sleeping on the wrong side can do more harm

Sleeping on your shoulder puts a lot of stress on the downward-facing shoulder. More often than not, a person sleeping on their shoulder would wake up with numbness in the arms and hand due to the compression on the nerve bundles that pass through the arm and the lack of blood circulation. Frequent sleeping on the weaker shoulder can also progressively round your shoulder which, at some point, can lead to anterior shoulder pain. Rounded shoulders, also known as “moms’ posture”, is commonly present on the weaker shoulder/non-dominant arm due to weakness of the stabilizing muscle. This biomechanical change may then result in the narrowing of the subacromial joint space which can limit/impinge the movement of the rotator cuff tendon that passes through the space presenting as a sharp pain during overhead movements. To avoid any physical pain in your sleep, it advisable to avoid sleeping directly on the shoulder especially the weaker shoulder. Also, strengthening exercises for the shoulder stabilizers and upper back muscles are highly recommended to combat/prevent the rounding of the shoulder.

Sleeping with an improper head/neck position

  1. Head/neck in hyperextension


Be sure to have a comfortable pillow

Sleeping with the head/neck in hyperextension can happen when sleeping with a soft pillow or on the wrong side of the pillow. Having your neck/head in this position compresses the upper cervical joint segments, which, when prolonged can trigger a headache specifically known as Cervicogenic Headache. As a solution, sleeping with a contoured pillow would help prevent the neck from hyperextending. Also, a routine of heat therapy followed by stretching the upper cervical neck muscles would help with easing the symptoms.

  1. Head/neck in hyperflexion


Sleeping on a high pillow

Sleeping with head in hyperflexion can happen when sleeping with too many pillows. Being one of the many factors of developing a forward heads posture, this position puts the neck extensor muscles (the ones that help hold your head up) at a lengthened and weakened position. This, altogether, puts the muscles at a disadvantaged state to face the amount of stress that we put on our bodies on daily basis leading to shoulder/neck pain (eg: the constant looking down while on the phone or computer). As a solution, it is advisable to minimize the use of multiple pillows in addition to choosing a pillow that is suited for the individual and allows the head to be in a neutral position.

  1. Unsupported neck when sleeping on the side


Effects on sleeping on the wrong type of pillow

This can happen with the use of the wrong type of pillow/ wrong side of the pillow. When the neck is not fully supported, the neck muscles tend to stay activated and not relax. This causes you to get the feeling of neck stiffness as you wake up in the morning as you have unintentionally worked the muscles over a prolonged period of time. To prevent this from happening, it is advisable to use a contoured pillow/ the curvier side of the contoured pillow when sleeping on.

Bad/aging mattress which sags in the middle


Common pain caused by aging mattress

An aging mattress may present with sagging in the middle. This kind of mattress puts your lower spine in an uncomfortable position causing you to develop back pain over a period of time. Back pain caused by the mattress is normally muscular in nature. In addition, an aging mattress may result in a person who prefers to sleep on the side to develop scoliosis over time.

A general consideration!

-Sleeping face-up is best for shoulder health if-else; try to sleep on the stronger shoulder

-Get a curvy pillow that suits different sleeping positions. The less curvy part is for sleep facing up while the curvier part is for sleeping on the side.

-Fewer pillows are always better than more

-Know when to change your mattress. A general recommendation would be to change the mattress every 7 years or if the mattress is sagging.

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