The Importance of Good Sleeping Posture

Irving Penn

Everyone knows the importance of good posture, but this doesn’t apply just to sitting, standing and moving around. The muscles and ligaments of the body relax and heal themselves while we sleep.  Given that we spend a significant proportion of each day asleep – the average Briton sleeps for 7 hours and 22 minutes (according to recent data from the alarm clock app, Sleep Cycle) – good posture when sleeping has a key role to play in maintaining the health of the body.

Below are the six most common sleeping positions [click on images to make them larger]…

Most common sleep positions

To help you to visualise the six positions, here they are represented pictorially…

Six most common sleep positions

Which sleeping position is most like yours?

Professor Chris Idzikowski, one Britain’s leading sleep experts, has highlighted how each of the six sleeping positions impacts on our health…

The best and worst sleep positions

Whichever position you find yourself sleeping in, it’s important to keep the ears, shoulders and hips aligned as much as possible.  Here are a few tips to help achieve the best postural alignment when sleeping:

  • If you sleep on your back, a small pillow under the back of your knees will reduce stress on your spine and support the natural curve in your lower back. The pillow for your head should support your head, the natural curve of your neck, and your shoulders.
  • Sleeping on your stomach can create stress on the back because the spine can be put out of position. Placing a flat pillow under the stomach and pelvis area can help keep the spine in better alignment. If you sleep on your stomach, a pillow for your head should be flat, or sleep without a pillow.
  • If you sleep on your side, a firm pillow between your knees will prevent your upper leg from pulling your spine out of alignment and reduce stress on your hips and lower back. Pull your knees up slightly toward your chest. The pillow for your head should keep your spine straight. A rolled towel or small pillow under your waist may also help support your spine.
  • Insert pillows into gaps between your body and the mattress.
  • When turning in bed, remember not to twist or bend at the waist but to move your entire body as one unit. Keep your belly pulled in and tightened, and bend your knees toward the chest when you roll.
  • Keep your ears, shoulders, and hips aligned when turning as well as when sleeping.

Vivian Maier

High Heels – How They Affect The Body

Dsquared stilettos with spine heel

Studies by The Spine Health Institute have shown that towering shoes can be costly in more ways than one, taking their toll on your spine, hips, knees, ankles and feet, while altering your posture and gait.  Here is an infograph (click on it to enlarge) summarising the effect high heels can have on the body…

Impact on the body of high heels

Advice for those who can’t give up their heel habit:

  • avoid wearing high heels for long periods of time;
  • stretch leg muscles before and after putting them on;
  • try and set your limit to two inch heels;
  • buy shoes in the afternoon when feet are at their largest;
  • avoid a shoe with a pointed toe;
  • opt for shoes with a leather insole to keep the foot from slipping;
  • have a variety of shoes in your wardrobe and vary the type you wear day-to-day;
  • see a Pilates teacher on a regular basis 😉

X-ray of a foot in high heels