If you have scoliosis, there’s a specific way you should be sleeping. We cover that and much more in this article so you start waking up (hopefully) pain free.
What Is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a spinal condition where the normal shape of the spine curves at the top of the shoulder and at the lower back in a C or an S shape. According to Healthline, only 20% of scoliosis cases have a determinable cause, which is commonly a birth defect, neurological abnormality, or genetic.
Scoliosis usually happens during growth spurts while in puberty. It usually is not painful during childhood years, but if left untreated, it can become debilitating. Cases range from mild, to severe enough to need braces or surgery.
Please always consult your physician or chiropractor if you’re looking to switch up your mattress or sleeping habits. Our team works to help you find solutions for your unique needs, but a healthcare provider can give you specific medical guidance.
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The Best Sleeping Position For Scoliosis (And The Worst)
Dr. Raymond Hall is a chiropractic physician who focuses on wellness and sleep, and was also voted The Top Chiropractor in California for 2015 and 2016 by the International Association of Healthcare Providers. First and foremost, Dr. Hall recommends to avoid sleeping on your stomach if you have scoliosis. He states that sleeping on your stomach can “push the natural curvature of the spine out of the alignment and into the abnormal scoliosis curve,” which can lead to increased back and neck pain, among other symptoms.
The most preferred sleeping position (agreed upon by most chiropractors) is to sleep on your back. With the proper mattress, this will help to keep the spine in neutral alignment while sleeping. Dr. Hall says, “Most scoliosis has at least a small degree of hyperkyphosis (small degree of hunched back type deformity) associated with the curvature and the back lying position helps to reduce the roundedness of the spine, especially with a firmer mattress support.” Second preference is side sleeping, but make sure your mattress has both enough support and proper pressure relief to keep your spine aligned.
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Sleeping Tips For Scoliosis
- Use a comfortable yet supportive mattress. It’s important for anyone with scoliosis to have a quality mattress that is best for their individual needs. A bad mattress can possibly make your symptoms and pain worse over time due to poor support. While those with scoliosis of course want to be comfortable, they also need to make sure that their spine is supported. As a rule of thumb, soft and cushy mattresses will not offer the support needed for long-term comfort at night. We recommend checking out our list of Best Beds for Scoliosis, where we’ve already curated a list of beds that fulfill all the needs of those with spinal issues. Just so you know, all of these beds have a trial period, which means that you can try them risk-free for at least a couple of months.
- Consider a mattress topper. If you’re not currently in the market for a new mattress, you can always get a mattress topper to make your mattress either firmer or softer to suit your needs. Just make sure your topper is only 1-3” thick. Anything thicker might feel nice, but isn’t great long-term for the spine or neck.
- The perfect pillow. Your neck is a part of your spine, so it’s important to keep that supported, as well. The average human head weighs 10-11 lb, with only your neck to support it. Dr. Raymond Hall, a chiropractic physician, does not recommend large and dense pillows, as they can push your head forward (while on your back) or kink it to the side (while laying on your side), which throws off your spinal alignment and compromises natural breathing patterns while possibly increasing neck pain. Check out our Pillow Reviews page, where you can do a little research to see which pillow might be best suited for your body and sleeper type.
- Don’t forget body pillows. If you follow all of these tips and you still tend to be uncomfortable or wake up with discomfort, try experimenting with placing pillows under your body while you sleep. Common areas are under the knees, the hips, or the lower back. Of course, this will differ per your sleeping position, body type, and degree of scoliosis, so double-check with your doctor that this is okay to do.
- Keep good sleep hygiene. Experts recommend a variety of habits that add up to what’s known as sleep hygiene. This includes keeping a consistent bedtime routine, getting exercise and light exposure during the day, and even eating properly so you don’t wake up hungry in the middle of the night. Check out our 101 Tips for Better Sleep for more bedtime ideas.
- Avoid sweat. For those who wear scoliosis braces at night, sweat can cause a serious problem. Experts recommend using a dusting of cornstarch to avoid sweat. You can also lower the temperature in your bedroom, which is known to be an effective way to get better sleep even outside of the summer months. There are also mattress topper options that are made to help manage temperature at night.
- Talk to your Orthoist. If you’re wearing a brace at night and are experiencing pain or discomfort with it, your Orthoist may be able to recommend safe and medically sound ways to alleviate it with edge shaving or foam.
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