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When there is no acute neck or back pain, you can sleep in almost any comfortable position. However, if you regularly go to sleep feeling fine and then wake up with pain or stiffness, you probably sleep on your stomach, and that habit has to be changed. When you are on your stomach, the lumbar spine is completely unsupported, and the neck is forced to turn to one side. This causes a prolonged strain on the spinal tendons and ligaments and leaves you feeling like you've just slept on a log instead of like a log. If you have a hard time breaking the stomach-sleeping habit, try lying on one side with the top leg slightly bent at the knee, and then place an extra-long, thick pillow under your chest. This will give you the same feeling as sleeping on your stomach, but most of the unsupported downward strain will now be taken away from the lower back. Some people have found that placing a small pillow under the top knee or between the knees also helps relieve lower back strain.
Sleeping position, mattress firmness and your body tossing and turning throughout the night can result in back pain. Sleeping on your stomach can be a major factor because your lower back, or lumbar spine, is unsupported. Moreover, this position forces you to keep your head turned to either side, adding the probability of neck strain.
Sleeping on your side and trying a mattress that provides adjustments for firmness can significantly reduce the frequency of strained back muscles when you get up in the morning.
However, night pains can also be sign of something more serious, requiring a visit to a doctor. Sleeping disorders can contribute to back pain if you are constantly twisting and turning to find a comfortable position.
Sleeping on your stomach can put some abnormal stress on your spine, and that can cause pain or some stiffness. Any time you experience some stiffness, try to gently stretch it out in the morning.
Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.