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Dr. Davis here from Vista CA…

Do you regularly sleep on your stomach?  This is the one habit that is the most harmful to the health and function of our spine and our nervous system.  When the head is turned to the side and then the weight of the body is placed upon it…the muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints, discs, nerves, etc. are compressed.  The application of this stress of stomach sleeping will lead to an acceleration of degeneration of the discs and joints.  Some of the worst degenerative disc disease that I have seen in the spine is in those that have spent their life sleeping on their belly.  We spend a third of our lives sleeping!

So if you shouldn’t sleep on your stomach…how should you sleep?  Flat on your back is best.  Some people will find that placing a pillow underneath the knees will be more comfortable.  You should always sleep with only one pillow under your head though so the neck is in a relaxed position.  If you are unable to sleep on your back then the next best option is on your side.  When you are sleeping on your side, you want to make sure that your head and neck are in as an aligned position as possible.  You should only use one pillow that is thick enough to support between your shoulder and your head.  Most people have a pillow that is too thin to sleep on your side…so there head is side bent all night.  The most vulnerable position for the neck to be in is side bent or extended. 

If you are thinking of making a change to your pillow, the best pillows that I have found are available at the select comfort stores in most malls or online at  http://www.selectcomfort.com/.  The make a customized design pillow that is unique to the person.  They will measure you, find out if you have a firm or soft mattress, find out what type of materials you want to put in the pillow, and design a pillow for you to sleep on your side or your back.  The pillows run around $125 or so and are very worth it.  

To break the habit of stomach sleeping sometimes you have to get creative.  I have had patients sew a tennis ball that they had cut in half to a t-shirt and wear that when they slept!  But most people don’t have to go to that extreme…just understanding the importance of spinal alignment and knowing that stomach sleeping will destroy the spine is enough.

To find out more about problems associated with stomach sleeping go to www.nuccawellness.com

God Bless and Be Well,

Dr. Bill Davis

Upper Cervical Specialist

Breath of Life Chiropractic

760-945-1345

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