When it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, we all have our preferences. Some of us need to lie flat on our stomachs to fall asleep, while others have more complicated requirements, such as sleeping. B. the need to sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs. But while you may not necessarily want to change something that you know works for you, your preferred sleep pattern could be negatively impacting your health. According to experts, there is one sleeping position that can put significant stress on the spine. Read on to find out if you’re guilty of this harmful nighttime habit.
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When it comes to the sleeping position, experts recommend paying attention to what you do with your legs. Twisting a leg to one side while sleeping can actually be harmful because “sleeping in a twisted position can cause spinal misalignment,” it says Nilong VyasMD, Sleep Medicine Physician and Medical Counselor at the Sleep Foundation.
Accordingly Derek Hales, a sleep expert and founder of NapLab.com, this misalignment occurs because your spine twists to follow the twist of your legs—which isn’t your spine’s natural position. “Sleeping like this for several hours puts excessive pressure on the spine, which creates pressure points in the joints, muscles, and ligaments of the lower back and shoulders,” explains Hales. “These pressure points are often the result of pain when sleepers wake up in the morning.”
Sleeping in a twisted position can feel comfortable at first, and you may not even notice the strain on your spine. but Alex Savy, a certified sleep science coach and founder of Sleeping Ocean, says this position causes your spine to twist at the bottom, which can lead to pressure build-up and pain over time. “And the worst thing is that the buildup of tension can cause sleepers to feel pain in different parts of their body, including hips, lower back, upper back, and even neck,” he explains.
In fact, the various pains caused by this sleeping position may require you to seek professional help if you let them last for too long. “Poor sleeping posture can lead to clinical symptoms such as back pain, neck pain, and other problems that are difficult to manage without the care of an orthopedist, chiropractor, or physical medicine and rehabilitation physician,” warns Moses LewisMD, a board-certified physical medicine and rehabilitation physician.
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The problems of sleeping with twisted legs don’t stop with back pain. Accordingly Steve Hruby, a chiropractic physician and founder of Kaizen Progressive Wellness, this sleeping position can also lead to numbness. “Crossing your legs while sleeping on your side can constrict the veins in your legs and restrict blood flow,” he explains. “This can cause your feet and ankles to swell and you may experience numbness or tingling in your legs.”
And in general, sleeping with your legs twisted can only hurt your sleep patterns. “It’s just not a very restful position and can disrupt your sleep quality,” he says Robert Pagano, a sleep expert and co-founder of Sleepline. “So overall, it’s best not to sleep in that position if possible.”
If you don’t want to give up your sleeping position, there are a number of things you can do to prevent overexertion and create a healthier sleeping environment. According to Hurby, strategically placing pillows around your body can help realign your spine — even when you’re lying on your side with your legs twisted.
“If you struggle with these positions, try using a pillow to support your knees if you’re sleeping on your side, or put a pillow between your knees if you’re sleeping on your back,” he recommends . “You can also try sleeping on your back with a pillow under your head and a pillow under your knees to keep your spine aligned.”
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