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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Western chapter.

Do you ever wake up and feel a sudden pain in your neck? Like you can’t quite move it all the way without feeling an uncomfortable tension? Or do you wake up with lower back pain, as if  someone was stepping on your back all night? While your go to sleeping position may feel comfortable in the moment, it is likely causing damage. This is super important to fix, as sleep is your body’s time to heal, but many of us are inadvertently hurting ourselves during this precious time. As someone who experienced neck pain for months, and has now figured out the tricks to relieving much of it, here are my tips that I learned throughout the process. 

Stomach Sleepers

If you are a stomach sleeper, I have some bad news for you. This is one of the worst positions for your lower back. I am guilty of rolling over in the middle of the night onto my stomach, but the way your spine curves in this position puts excessive stress on the lower back. How to solve this? Place a pillow under your lower stomach. This will raise the area to better align your spine in a neutral position and take the weight off it. While this pillow trick makes a difference, stomach sleeping still puts the neck out of alignment because it requires your neck to be turned to the side, however. Keep reading for better positions to take care of your neck.

Side Sleepers

I am a side sleeper the majority of the time, but during the summer, I started experiencing neck pain that lasted many months. The pain got to the point where, if I sneezed or coughed, my neck would cramp up. These things happen much less now that I have changed the way I sleep on my side. The biggest help was getting a pillow with neck support; the one with a raised bump on one side. This ensures that the space under your neck is supported. With a normal pillow, your head is supported, but there is likely a gap under your neck causing it to strain. Next, sleep with a pillow between your legs. This prevents your spine from rotating throughout the night, and the improved alignment will take stress off your body. 

Back Sleepers

I think this is a less common sleep position, but if it is yours, continue reading. Sleeping on your back can cause back pain. I know this is getting redundant, but it is really important to fix your sleep position. For back sleepers, place a pillow under your knees. This will help keep your spine neutral, and support the natural curve in your back without adding additional strain. 

The next time you go to sleep, try these tips out and see if you wake up feeling more mobile. It may take consistency to notice a big difference, so stick with it to have better sleeps and happier muscles in the long run!

Here are some diagrams of each sleep position.

Hi, I’m Victoria! I am a second year Western student in MIT. I love spending time with my pets, riding horses, and watching movies with friends :)