Today I had a member of my forum write a message about hip pain while sleeping and s/he was curious as to the best way to sleep.
Let’s start with the worst way to sleep…on your stomach. When you sleep on your stomach your head is turned to the side for hours at a time, shortening several muscles especially one that is a common cause of tinnitus and ear pain. The muscle, sternocleidomastoid (SCM for short) originates on your collarbone and inserts into the bone at the back of your ear. As the muscle shortens from being held in the same position for hours, it pulls on the bone causing the tiny bones in your ear to be pulled out of alignment. These are the bones that enable you to hear and when they are not tapping correctly you will have ear problems, including tinnitus, ear pain, and even pain into your eye.
Hip pain can be happening because your legs aren’t being supported to keep them pointing forward. For example, if you are on your right side your left leg needs to be resting on a pillow so it isn’t tilted down toward the mattress. And if your bed isn’t firm your right hip will be tilted down into the mattress and your left hip will be sagging down.
While sleeping on your side, the main thing is to keep your spine straight (not sagging at your waist) and your pelvis and thigh bones facing forward. If you twist your waist you will be causing some of the muscles to contract and they will shorten after a period of time, and you will be overstretching the muscles on your opposite side.
Sleeping on your back is good if your mattress is firm or you’ll have low back pain. It’s best to have a pillow under your knees to take the strain off your lumbar region. Also, the back of your head and your back need to be in a straight line, with only a small pillow being placed under your neck to give support to your cervical vertebrae. Having a pillow under your head will cause you to be actually bending your head forward and will shorten muscles in your neck (the scalenes) and put pressure on a bundle of nerves (the brachial plexus) that will cause burning, tingling, and numbness into your hands and fingers.
Sleeping positions may cause chronic pain. If you aren’t aware of how muscles can refer pain, you may not even realize that something as simple as sleeping can cause so much pain.
We’ll talk about pillows in another posting.
Wising you well,