How to Sleep with Good Posture

You probably know the importance of good posture during the day. How you hold yourself, whether you're moving or lying still, can help prevent pain, injuries and other health problems. But what you may not realize is that practicing good posture is equally important while sleeping. Finding a healthy way to rest your body at night can help keep your musculoskeletal system in alignment, reducing the pressure on your muscles and ligaments while increasing your chances of waking up pain-free and refreshed.

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Whether your preferred sleeping position sees you curled up on your side, lying flat on your back or dozing peacefully on your stomach, learning how to sleep with good posture can dramatically improve your sleep quality and overall health. Below, check out our best tips for practicing good sleep posture — from upgrading your mattress to relaxing with weighted products (hello, weighted eye mask).

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Sleep Position vs. Sleep Posture – What’s the Difference?

People often confuse sleep posture with sleep position. Although the two terms are related, there is an important distinction. Sleep position is a general term for how you configure your body during sleep. The three main sleep positions include:

  • back sleeping
  • side sleeping
  • stomach sleeping

In contrast, sleep posture generally refers to the way you hold that position during sleep. Two people can fall asleep in the same sleep position, but if one has poor posture, they’ll likely experience more aches and pains when they wake up.

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Our Best Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Sleep Posture

When it comes to maintaining good sleep posture, the ultimate goal is to keep your spine in a neutral position. When your spine is neutral — that is, when all three of its natural curves are in good alignment — the pressure on your muscles and ligaments is greatly reduced, resulting in less body pain in the morning. Here are some easy ways to improve your posture while you sleep.

  1. Get a Supportive Mattress – Few things will impact your sleep more than your mattress selection. Beyond providing a basic level of comfort, a top-quality mattress is essential for giving your spine the support it needs all night long. For top-notch spinal support, most experts suggest opting for a medium-firm mattress, which is neither too soft nor too firm and ideal for sleep positions.
  2. Keep Your Neck Parallel with the Bed – If you’re waking up with a stiff, painful neck, it’s likely because your neck isn’t in a neutral position when you nod off to sleep. Fortunately, there’s a simple fix. Choose a pillow that keeps your neck parallel with the bed. For instance, those who sleep on their stomachs may sleep more comfortably with a low-loft pillow that won’t put their head at an awkward angle. Likewise, side sleepers may want a thicker pillow to fill the space between their head and neck.
  3. Use Pillows for Additional Support – Pillows aren’t limited to just your head. You can also use them to promote better posture while you sleep. If you’re a side sleeper, for example, you might consider tucking a firm pillow between your knees. (Experts say this can help keep your upper legs from rotating downward and twisting your spine.) Are you a back sleeper? For extra spinal support, try placing a pillow under your knees and the small of your back.
  4. Ease Stress-Related Muscle Tension with Weighted Products – Nighttime worries can ruin more than just your sleep — they can also negatively affect your posture. Stress can cause pain and tightness in the muscles, as well as spasms that can potentially pull your posture out of alignment. To banish nighttime stress, try winding down with a soft weighted robe, a soothing eye mask or a classic, gravity weighted blanket. Don’t forget your weighted blanket cover!  

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  1. Stretch It Out – Stretching before bed not only relaxes you, but also loosens up tight muscles that can shorten over time and contribute to posture problems. So, why not stretch away the stress of the day with a few restorative yoga poses in the evening? Spend a little time in a child’s pose or downward-facing dog. You’ll be feeling calm and loose in no time!

Proper Alignment Is Key

Regardless of your sleeping position, maintaining a good sleep posture is the best way to keep your musculoskeletal system in good shape. By keeping your spine in a neutral position, you can give your tired muscles a much-needed break while optimizing your comfort in bed. Ultimately, that translates to better sleep quality and overall health.