Having a nice sleep that supports your neck and back is vital for your overall health. To achieve this with the best results, your neck and back must be adequately supported. If you wake up after a seven- or eight-hour sleep feeling stiff in your back and neck and generally not well-rested, you probably need to consider how you're supporting your back and neck while you sleep. Such support depends on your sleeping position, the position of your pillow(s) and the type of mattress you sleep on.
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Ensure your mattress is firm instead of soft, as this is the most important factor in supporting your back. Sleeping on a soft mattress causes your back to curve and sink, which causes back pain. A firm mattress allows your spine to rest with its natural curves all in place, eliminating that unnecessary pain.
Check to make sure your mattress doesn't have any lumps on its surface. Older or cheaper mattresses may have springs that cause the surface to be bumpy. This can cause back discomfort.
Pick a pillow that holds your head at the appropriate height. One that is too high will cause your shoulders to slope and can affect your posture and breathing, as well as cause neck soreness when you wake up. A pillow that's too low can cause your shoulders to hunch together and likewise cause pain. Finding the right pillow for you takes some experimentation while you're awake to see how your neck and shoulders react. It will then require additional experimentation while you sleep a night with a pillow to ensure it's the right height.
Stay on a routine, and use regular habits. For example, have a set time for going to sleep every night, sleep on the same bed every night with the same pillows, and in the same position that works for you.
Tips and warnings
- If no pillow is working out for you, you may want to try sleeping without a pillow. According to Terri Trespicio, the senior editor of the magazine "Body+Soul," sleeping on your back without a pillow is the best way to support your back and neck, as long as you're on a firm mattress.
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