Have you ever woken up with one of those headaches that just won’t shift? You start to eliminate all the possible causes but can’t quite think what it could be. The answer could be the way that you sleep.
Getting to the crux of your morning headaches is necessary to increase the quality of life since some headaches can be stubborn and in turn, they can affect your productivity and mental well-being.
A study published recently says 1 in 13 people have suffered from morning headaches despite not drinking alcohol and drinking enough water the day before. Our sleep patterns are vital for overall health and well-being so waking with a morning headache could well be a sign that you need to take note of the position you sleep in as well as how long for.
How Sleeping Positions Affect Us
Our bodies adapt quickly to the positions we adopt. This is why posture is so important because by having bad posture, the muscles are adapting to a position that is not supporting your spine or neck. While we’re sleeping, the muscles don’t need to work as hard to support us since we’re lying down. However, they are still adapting to the position we choose to sleep in for 8 hours and eventually tighten up.
The Foetal Position
The most common sleeping position that most of us find easy to fall asleep in, is the foetal position. Curling up is actually the opposite of what we’ve been trying to do during the day which is keeping our backs straight and aligned. While it may seem comfortable, this position forces our heads down and shoulders forward, getting tucked upwards and in causing tension in the neck. If we stay in this position for too long during sleep, the muscles in our neck tense up and get locked.
Lying On The Stomach
This position, although straightening your back, forces your head and neck to twist at an unnatural angle again causing tension in the muscles around your neck. While it may increase the flexibility of one side, it will tighten up the other resulting in neck ache and tension headaches when you wake up. This position is also not ideal for your lower back which all adds up to tension up the spine and into the neck.
In addition, placing your arm over your head while sleeping on your stomach results in circulation being cut off due to pressure on the collection of nerves of the brachial plexus and the brachial artery. This disrupts regular blood flow around your body including your head and neck.
Lying On Your Back
The best position to sleep in is to lie on your back. While this is quite a difficult position for some people to adapt to, it not only keeps your spine straight all the way up to your neck, but it keeps the muscles in the correct position allowing sufficient support and a neutral posture for optimal blood flow. This ‘corpse’ alignment promotes a healthy posture that continues from day into night.
This position isn’t for everyone, however. Those with sleep apnoea and problems snoring can find sleeping on their back aggravating for these conditions and this, in turn, affects sleep quality. In this instance, sleeping on the side of the body as straight as possible, making sure the neck is not elevated too much by your pillow, will be the best alternative and promotes better neck health.
Tossing And Turning
If you find you’re tossing and turning a lot in the night, this is because the curled positions you sleep in are causing muscles to tighten and blood flow to be cut off. The feeling of discomfort results in you changing positions regularly – usually from one curled up side to the other. This is a good indication that you should attempt to sleep on your back to eliminate the chance of chronic morning headaches.
Try sleeping with a pillow that allows your neck and back to be straight and aligned. Also, try placing a pillow underneath your knees to prevent you from turning over onto your side. If you find you wake up with that dull, annoying headache each morning, adopt this position and see if it makes a difference.
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