Sleep Smart : Sleep posture matters!

Have you ever woken up from a great night’s sleep, and your body has felt stiff and awful?

It could have something to do with your posture while you sleep!

Unlike during the day, we don’t have active control of our posture during our sleep, so it is important to use a variety of tips and tricks to help maintain a neutral spine when sleeping.

What does a neutral spine look like when sleeping?

Very similar to standing upright.
3 smooth curves front to back, from base of head to top of buttocks; no side to side curves.

A neutral spine when laying on your back
A neutral spine when side laying

Should I sleep on my side or my back?

It doesn’t really matter providing you do it right!

When sleeping on your back:
2 pillows

A pillow under the head and neck (not under the shoulders).
It should be fat enough to support your head and neck, but thin enough not to bend your neck forward.

A pillow under the knees helps to support decrease the tension in the spine.

Arms comfortably by your sides, or resting on your tummy.

What about sleeping on my side?

When sleeping on your side:
3-4 pillows

A pillow under the head and neck (not under the shoulders).
It should be fat enough to support your head and neck, but thin enough so your neck doesn’t bend to the side.

A pillow between the knees.
It should be fat enough to keep your knees and feet hip width apart. This helps to decrease tension and twisting through the hips, pelvis and lumbar spine.

A pillow to stop you rolling over.
Hug a fat pillow – it helps to prevent twisting and tension through the shoulders, upper back and neck.
Prop a fat pillow behind your back, and rest onto it – it helps stop you rolling onto your back, and can help prevent tension in the mid-upper back and neck.

But I’m a tummy sleeper!

Tummy sleeping – it’s not ideal, but if it’s the only way you can sleep at the moment it will have to do!

Try sleeping with a pillow lengthwise under your chest, or horizontally under your tummy to help maintain a more neutral spine.

NO pillow under your head/face!!

Leave a question/comment on our socials; or at your next appointment, chat to your healthcare provider at Caring Hands Chiropractic. Wouldn’t you like to help your body feel more comfortable when sleeping by improving and finetuning your sleep posture, so you can wake up feeling good in the morning?

For more information on healthy sleep habits:


Cary D, Briffa K, McKenna L “Identifying relationships between sleep posture and non-specific spinal symptoms in adults: A scoping review” BMJ Open 2019;9:e027633 doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-027633

“Chapter 28: Digital human modelling and ergonomic design of sleeping systems” R. Sironi, C.E. Standoli, P. Perego, and G. Andreoni; “DHM and Psoturography” Ed: S. Scataglini, P. Gunther; Elsevier, 2019, ISBN: 978-0-12-816713-7

Images courtesy of PhysioMed LTD, sourced and adapted from: PhysioMed LTD., 2021. [online] Available at: