“There’s nothing you can’t cure with a good night’s sleep.” While this saying may not apply to all cases, there’s more than a little truth to it.

Sleep is a vital component in maintaining both physical and mental health. But as beneficial as it can be, under certain circumstances, sleep can create or aggravate existing health complications such as back pain, poor blood circulation, or bedsores. In avoiding the side effects of poor sleep, posture is key. No, this doesn’t mean keeping your back straight and your chin up while lying in bed, but it may mean making some changes to your sleeping position:

    Briggs Stress Ease Pillow
  • As far as sleeping positions go, the most beneficial thing for your posture is to sleep lying on your back (the supine position). This helps maintain neutral spine curves, which eases the pressure on your lower back and neck, and promotes good posture. When sleeping on your back, it’s a good idea to use a firm yet fluffy cervical pillow to support your head and neck, so that they remain in a natural position.
  • Sleeping on your side (the lateral position) is also a good way to avoid kinks in your spine. Like sleeping on your back, it keeps your spine aligned, and can also reduce acid reflux, ease sleep apnea symptoms, and decrease snoring. If at all possible, try to avoid sleeping on your stomach (the prone position). This is the worst sleeping position for people with bad backs. It makes it very difficult to maintain natural curves in your spine. It also puts extra pressure on your nerves and joints, which leads to pain, numbness, and tingling.
  • If you find this process of adjusting your sleeping position particularly difficult, there are ways to make it easier. One good way is using bed wedges and other therapeutic pillows to correct your posture. These tools work by reducing pressure on the spine and supporting the bones, which allows for healthy development in young people, and helps avoid friction with poorly lubricated joints in the elderly. This can also ease arthritis pains.
  • For individuals who spend extended periods of time in bed, sleeping positions are even more important to monitor. Staying in the same position for a very long time can lead to the development of pressure ulcers, which can be very difficult to treat. Specialized bedding designed for pressure prevention, like egg crate mattress pads, can be extremely useful in treating and preventing bedsores.

Adjusting the way you sleep is one of the best ways to start feeling better during the day. Changing the position you’ve been sleeping in for years can take a bit of time. We are creatures of habit, and it’s difficult to leave behind something that brings us comfort. When you find it difficult training yourself to sleep properly, remember that the benefits far outweigh the cost. In exchange for a few minor adjustments to your sleeping habits, you can reduce your back pain, improve your posture, and wake up with more energy and fewer aches!