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Waking Up About The Correct Sleep Posture

Even though, I have practiced for nearly 30 years as a chiropractor, written 8 books and have helped Be Healthy Chiropractic Centre Wellness Centre become one of the premier centres for pain-free living, natural health and happiness, there was a time just two years ago when I felt like a fraud. It was because for 28 years I had been giving people the wrong advice regarding the correct sleep posture…

It wasn’t until a seminar at CQ University in Brisbane in 2018 until I was confronted with the truth in the form of science… approximately 270 different studies. Texan chiropractor, Dr Michael Hall, a 30 year lecturer in  functional neurology began sharing some of these studies which showed how different sleeping postures affect the amount of oxygen to your brain.

The Best Sleeping Posture

It showed that best sleeping posture is sleeping on your stomach with your head turned to one side as it:

1) provides the maximum amount of  oxygen to your brain.

2) also stretches out front neck muscles that if too tight, can give our neck a hunched forward posture.

3) provides some resistance to your diaphragm which helps strengthen your breathing capacity.

4) encourages healthier breathing through your nose and discourages mouth breathing

5) it helps provide postural tone and strength to the upper neck muscles

Sometimes propping your chest on a pillow can make it easier and more comfortable for some.

Sleeping on your stomach is best best sleeping posture for you

Sleeping on your stomach is best best sleeping posture for you

The Next Best Sleeping Posture

If you find it impossible to sleep on your stomach, or you feel too hesitant, the next best option is sleeping on your side.

Sleeping on your left side is better than sleeping on your right hand side as it assists better circulation.

If you sleep on your side a correctly sized contoured pillow can help balance your posture. If you are a mouth breather (ie if you dribble or snore) you may want to use some form of elastic strap around your head and chin.  I know its not a great look but nose breathing is a lot healthier and more efficient way of breathing. Mouth breathing can result in some serious health consequences.

The Worst Sleeping Posture

Sleeping on your back is the worst sleeping posture.

This postion opens your jaw which encourages unhealthy mouth breathing. Sleeping on your back has also been shown to aggravate these conditions:

– asthma and allergies

– wheezing in children

– back pain

– grinding teeth

– GORD (reflux)

– sleep apnea

– respiratory problems

and has even been thought to contribute to heart failure in people with sleep apnea.

For the previous 28 years like most chiropractors and physiotherapists, I had been advising people to sleep on their back or side and avoid sleeping on your stomach so I did what any health professional would do when confronted with something new that completely opposed their opinion. I attacked it!

I higlighted a study that showed how sleeping on your back placed the least amount of pressure on the neck. This was quite obviously not Dr Hall’s first rodeo as he seemed all too prepared for my attack and he disarmed with ease and with science.

“You are  partially correct about the study but i must point out that the study showed less strain on the neck while sleeping on your back while you are completely stationary. It did not take inot account that you have to continually move while you sleep in order to breathe.

And sleeping on your back puts the biggest strain on your oxygen delivery and reduces your brain function compared to any other posture. Numerous studies show this. I have  270 of them on file on my computer that you can look at during the next break.”

“I’ll take you up on that” I replied defiantly from back right corner of the room still not wanting to listen to something I didn’t want to hear.

But inside of my I felt like I was exposed as a fraud in front of my colleagues. My mind kept replaying endless conversations I have had in the past with friends, family and patients where I had told them to sleep on their back and side and not sleep on their stomach (it was even in 2 of my books).

The one thing all chiropractors are brilliant at is the reading of body language as I looked around the room it was clear that this new information was a shock to virtually everyone there. In a funny way, knowing that others also felt bad  for not knwoing this new research did make me feel better. Dr Hall say it too. “Hey guys, We all do the best with what we know at the time. Now that you know better you can  serve your communities better.”

At the next break, 15 other chiropractors followed me up to look at the science. Dr Hall clicked on a folder on his desktop marked Sleep. He proceeded to show me study after study. After looking at 13 studies and noticing that there were still 257 more I could see, I finally accepted my fate.

Since then I have been on a mission to make up for lost time to make sure that all people are sleeping in a proper posture that improves their health and not harm it.

So if your health professional tells you that you shouldn’t sleep on your stomach, be kind to them. They’re doing there best with what they know at the time. I know what that feels like. And don’t ask Dr Google! I just Googled “best sleep posture” and none of the websites on the first page give the correct sleep posture advice.

Now that you have the most up to date advice on the correct sleep posture hopefully you can all sleep more soundly tonight.

If you have any more questions on sleep posture feel free to call me at Be Healthy Chiropractic Wellness Centre in Mudjimba on 5457 0657


1 Join the Conversation

  1. Bettina Rowley says
    Feb 15, 2020 at 6:23 AM

    Hi Paul, this is very interesting. Thanks for sharing and educating on this important topic. Now I don't have to feel bad anymore about sleeping on my stomach.

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