Science

Heal Your Spine While You Sleep

After a review of over 1,000 of my patient X-Rays I found a pattern. This pattern reflects the loss of the cervical curve in our necks from poor sleeping posture, yes, you read that correctly - back problems develop from POOR SLEEPING HABITS. This common loss is reinforced by our modern day lifestyle of texting and prolonged computer work, etc. Our bodies compensate by twisting our hips and throwing our lower backs out of alignment.

Our heath is a direct result of our daily rituals. The best way to fix our spines and get a great night’s sleep while doing it, is to sleep in a position that evenly distributes our weight over the greatest amount of surface area.

By sleeping in the correct position and using our pillows correctly we can REVERSE the damage to our spines caused by modern day life.  If you get your pillow placement and sleeping position correct, your bed becomes much less important

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How Your Bed and Pillow Affect Your Body Mechanics

Let’s take the two lessons I learned from that movie scene and my episodes of falling asleep in the wrong position and put them together. Beds are made to be more and more comfortable and absorb your body’s weight to decrease pressure points. They support you as you sleep on your side, but what about back in the 19th century? There would be no way you could sleep on your side with just a block of wood and a towel.

You would be tossing and turning all night long because your body weight would be distributed over a small surface area causing pressure points. The only way you would be able to sleep is on your back, which distributes your weight over the greatest surface area — which is how the actors slept in the movie.

Try lying on your side and watching a two-hour movie. You would not be able to do it without turning (trust me; I tried it). You can only stay on your side for a short time until something either goes numb or gets uncomfortable.

And this is one of the reasons why you toss and turn all night long. The area of the brain that senses pain and the area of the brain that controls sleep are very close. When your body is in pain it wakes up, or the body moves you out of that position (tossing and turning). That reflex is suppressed when you have drugs like alcohol, sleeping pills, pain meds or are extremely tired. So, what happens is that you stay in your abnormal body position (side or stomach sleeping) for prolonged periods of time and pull muscles or sprain ligaments.

Now that is just one night’s effect. Let’s talk about my main reason for writing this article. It is what you do on a regular basis that defines your health and well-being. Remember, your body adapts to your daily lifestyle habits. What you do every day is what defines your current state of health. Years and years of side sleeping and stomach sleeping cause damage to your spine that your body internalizes.

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Structure Affects Function

As a chiropractor, I believe your structure directly effects your function. The structure of your spine effects the way your nervous system functions and, ultimately, your health and well-being. This concept is a lot more than people can handle, so I will keep it basic for the scope of this article. I will talk about biomechanics and about an epidemic that thousands of patients have in common, from 10-year-olds to 90-year-olds. It is the epidemic of spinal degeneration, or what the medical profession calls arthritis. I started to ask the question “Why do so many patients have spinal degeneration which leads to back and neck pain and ultimately health related conditions?” I started to look at patterns and apply a law to my thinking called the “Davis Law,” which states that tissue remolds itself according to imposed demands.

Maintaining proper curves of your spine is critically important in helping your body distribute stress when you walk or move. Another way to think about it is that the shape of your spine works like a big spring and acts like a shock absorber. When you lose the curves of your spine, you cause stress points within the spine, and as Davis Law states you will cause scar tissue to develop in those areas of the spine where you lose the curves. This restriction of motion in the joint leads to degeneration (arthritis) in that area.

As a culture, we are spending more and more time on computers, driving or texting on our phones. All of these positions are done in a forward head posture (head forward position). I find that the average person can spend up to eight hours a day in forward head position posture. This must be offset if you want to maintain a natural curve in your cervical spine.

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