Best Sleep Positions To Rid Aches, Pains

How you sleep at night can directly effect how you feel during the day: certain sleep positions are more likely to lead to aches and pains.

Terri Trespicio, senior editor for "Body+Soul" magazine, showed
Early Show co-anchors how to prevent some of those sleep-related pains.

According to Trespicio, sleeping on your back is actually the best possible position for your body.

"It is the best for your spine if you had no pillow. Ideally, the best way is on your back with no pillow," she told Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith and Early Show weather anchor and features reporter, Dave Price, who are both back sleepers.

If you don't use a pillow, it will allow your spine to rest with its natural curves in place. Trespicio also points out that if you do use a pillow and it's too thick, it can pull your head and neck forward and affect your breathing.

Therefore, you have to loosen up your neck when you're done. She suggests doing a "neck release" by tilting your head to the side until you feel a pull and hold for two counts. This balances and stretches the neck muscles, freeing the vertebra in your neck to find their natural alignment.

To further alleviate the pain, you can lay on your back, get a rolled up towel and place under your shoulder blades, and just lay there for about 5 minutes. You can also work your way up to 15, she says.

"It's incredibly relaxing. It keeps the head and neck back," Trespicio explained.

Trespicio moved onto stomach sleepers, which she says is the worst position of all, affecting your lower back, neck and potentially your lungs.

"Sleeping on your stomach flattens the natural curve in the lower back and keeps your head turned to one side all night, which distorts the alignment of the spine in your neck," she explained.

Trespicio suggests that stomach sleepers, which includes Early Show co-anchor Chris Wragge, buy and use a body pillow to help train them to sleep on their sides and to do side stretches as well.

For side sleepers, which includes Early Show co-anchors Julie Chen and Maggie Rodriguez, Trespicio says the big problem with that position is putting your arm or hands under your head.

"Resting your head (which weighs about 10 pounds) on your arm for hours at a time stresses the body, pressing on the nerves that run through the top of the shoulder and down the arm, resulting in numb fingers," she said.

In addition, Trespicio says the shoulder you sleep on also gets hiked up toward your ear, which constricts the shoulder and neck muscles.

Side sleepers can do a shoulder stretch, which stretches the back of the shoulders which tend to get compressed by the weight of your head.

The shoulder stretch involves a yoga strap or if you don't have one, you can use a belt. This stretches and brings balance to the muscles of the neck and shoulders and opens the chest.

To read the full story, "Sleep On It," visit wholeliving.com.
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