PT on the Net Research

Sleep Positions and Posture


Question:

Postural assessment is a very interesting topic to me. I am 6'7" with rounded shoulders. Sometimes I think its gravity, weak muscles, not trying to hit my head on low objects, sitting in school desks for the past 20 years and even my sleeping position which is to blame. To correct this postural distortion, I have been strengthening by back muscles (posterior deltoids, middle traps and rhomboids), stretching my tight muscles (pectorals, lat dorsi and abs) and really trying to stand and sit up straight when sitting or walking. The downfall of my day is when I go to sleep. I have been sleeping on my side in a crunched position for many years and think my posture is partially caused by this position. I am not sure what sleeping position is best for my posture; I would think lying on my back with my feet straight is most beneficial for my posture and joints. Would you agree? If not, which sleeping position is best for proper posture?

Answer:

As you know, there are many things that we do in life that can cause poor posture. There are many places where poor posture can come from. Here are some listed below:

  1. Poor mental/emotional state of mind
  2. Pattern overload
  3. Repetitive movement
  4. Poor program design
  5. Poor motor programs
  6. Poor ergonomics
  7. Visceral dysfunction

As for where your upper cross syndrome is coming from, who knows? I am sure it is secondary to your height, as well as many of the other factors above. You can focus on your upper cross, but remember that it is usually coupled with another postural distortion. I would recommend getting assessed by an NASM trainer or other trained professional (Physical Therapist, Physiotherapist, C.H.E.K Practitioner).

The Chinese use what they call Yin and Yang to describe everything in the universe. For every positive, there is a negative. For example, we would not know what love is without hate. Not to go into detail, but the bottom line is that it represents balance. When it comes to posture or health for that matter, it is the Yin and the Yang of everyday life that will increase your vitality, posture, happiness, etc. Paul Chek says that “health is taking responsibility for one's self!” That means in all aspects of one’s life (mental/emotional state, physical, nutritional, spiritual, professional, personal, etc). So my advice to you would be to focus on those things in order to create a more Yin/Yang (balanced) human being.

When it comes to educating a client about posture, there is a lot involved. One of those areas is definitely sleep. The only downfall is that you are in an unconscious sensory-motor relaxation state and have not much control of how, when and where you move on the bed. The best position is on your back with a pillow under your low back and knees, but who is going to actually continue to sleep in that position? I am going to give you a list of certain positions that are beneficial to your health and recovery process. At the same time, remember that if you are “taking responsibility” in everyday life, sleep is a small percentage of what you might be doing wrong. Here is a list of simple things to aid in realigning your body and correcting your posture:

  1. Eat organic, drink plenty of water each day (half your body weight in ounces) and eat for your Metabolic Type.
  2. Get assessed by a professional. Assessing yourself is not easy, but if you want results, get assessed - don’t guess! This will provide you with a flexibility as well as a corrective exercise program.
  3. Find a Neuromuscular Therapist (www.stjohnseminars.com) in your area to work out any trigger points that you have secondary to your postural distortion.
  4. Perform daily meditation of some sort (Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Chakra/Zone Exercises, Kriya Yoga, Universal Tao, etc.). This will assist in relieving your everyday internal/external stressors, detoxifying your organs and revitalizing your organs and nervous system. We are condensed versions energy=matter. The more in alignment you are, the more energy and waste (blood, lympthatic fluid, cerebrospinal fluid, waste in the large intestine, etc.) will flow in and out of the body. If you have poor posture, your energy will be depleted.

As well as facilitating poor posture, various sleep positions can cram your midsection and cause constipation. Correcting your sleep position is something that will not be achieved over night. It will take time to get used to, but if you are committed, your success is inevitable. I have found that the more internally relaxed my organs are, the better the sleep. When your mind and GI system are still working, your chances of sleeping well are slim to none. As well, if you are more relaxed, the easier it will be to fall asleep in your new position. According to the Universal Tao system of Mantack Chia:

My professional recommendation to you would be to work on all of the above for at least three solid months. After that, if you are not getting results, then you can start fiddling with your sleeping positions. Like I said, if you are taking responsibility for yourself during the 16 hours you are awake, then sleeping any way for eight hours will not make much difference. It is all about Yin and Yang!