You sleep for at least 8 hours a day. It is common especially as you get older to notice that when you wake up you may feel stiff, wake up with numb hands, or pain in your neck and shoulders. Therefore I am often asked what is the best way to sleep. Most experts agree that whatever position your body tend to go towards is the best.

If you find that you are waking up with pain and suspect that your sleeping position is causing your pain try these sleeping modifications. I have tried these myself and I really thought these were some of the best modifications I have seen.

Back Sleepers: Reduce Stiffness in Your Back and Keep Your Arms and Hands from Falling Asleep


Perhaps when you sleep on your back you notice your arms and hands become numb in the middle of the night. Sleeping with your arms at your side or resting on your belly places a stretching stress on your nerves which may cause your arms and hands to fall asleep.

To prevent this you can place two small pillow under your arms. This will help support your arms which will help prevent your arms from becoming numb.

When you sleep on your back your pelvis your pelvis rotates slightly forward causing your back to arch. This may cause your low back to feel stiff and achy while you sleep.

To help prevent excess pressure on your low back it can be helpful to place a pillow under the knees. This may help with stiffness and tension in your low back. 

Side Sleepers: Reduce Pain in Your Neck, Shoulders, and Keep Your Arms and Hands From Falling Asleep

Sleeping purely on your side ( shown in the photo below) places stress on your shoulders which create aches or pains in your  neck and shoulder or make your arms fall asleep. 

The modified side position (shown below) can help to distribute your weight more evenly and opens up your shoulders. This will take compression off of the shoulders and arms.

Begin as if you were in a side lying position. Place a pillow between your legs to take pressure off of your hips. Place a pillow behind you. Then simply lay back on the pillow behind you.  

You can place your bottom arm either underneath the pillow or place your arm on top of the pillow.  This is my favorite modified position and is really comfortable.

The pillow behind you supports your upper body and your weight is no longer on your shoulder.


Stomach Sleepers: Prevent Low Back and Neck Stiffness

Sleeping on your stomach is often not recommended because it places a lot of stress on the spinal joints. This can be particularly bad for conditions such as spondylosis, spondylisthesis, and other spinal arthritis conditions.  

When you sleep on your stomach your back is essentially in an over-arched position. When you use the body pillow it keeps your spine from over-arching. If you like to sleep on your stomach I think you will find this position very comfortable.  

You could simply use a pillow under your stomach and that is the usual method that is recommended. But the reason I find this method really useful is it also keeps your neck from being overarched as well. 

With a body pillow drape your top leg over the pillow.  Also drape the same side arm over the pillow.  Then simply rest your head on the body pillow. If you don’t have a body pillow you can simply just use two regular sized pillows.



Another version of the stomach position is to have a second pillow under the head. This will allow a channel for the arm underneath to lay in decreasing pressure on your arm.



Here is the video that explains the modifications

There you have it.  These are some great modifications for the most common sleeping positions. I hope you sleep well. Let me know what you think in the comments below.