What is your sleeping alignment (posture)? Most people know that good posture/alignment is important in the work place or during a yoga class, but what about when you sleep?
The average person should sleep between 8-10 hours a night for optimal health, which means that you could be practicing 8 hours of good alignment a day.
So, the question is, are you in good alignment while you sleep?
Sleeping in proper alignment allows the body to function at its optimal level. It allows the many bodily systems that function at night the best environment to take care of and repair the body. This means aligned sleeping is good for your digestion, your liver, your kidneys, your spine, your back, your circulation, your respiration, and much, much more.
Alignment while sleeping on your stomach:
Notice how the head is turned to one side or the other, which prevents the neck from coming into correct alignment. In addition, there is little to no support underneath the belly, which will cause the lower back to sag downward.
Alignment while sleeping on your back:
Sleeping on your back is the optimal position for proper alignment while sleeping. However, the use of a pillow can sometimes cause a person to come out of proper alignment in their neck. If your pillow is too big, it thrusts the chin towards the chest. On the other hand, some people have very tight necks, and no support under the heads causes the chin to thrust upward. The proper alignment for the chin is to be level, not lifted too high and not dropping to the chest.
*In this picture the pillow is actually too thick and is causing me to lose the natural curve of my neck.
*In this picture the pillow has been moved down under my shoulders. For some people this helps to bring the neck into correct alignment. Due to my tight shoulders this position still causes me to lose the natural curvature of my neck.
*Without any support under my head my neck actually loses its natural curve and my chin drops towards my chest. Also note how my lower ribs are distinctly seen pocking up from under my shirt. That is an indication of a very tight psoas.
*The placement of a small towel rolled up under my neck allows my neck to come into a natural position. My chin is not lifted upward or down toward my chest. Still note how my lower ribs are pocking upward due to my tight psoas. How to release the psoas will be coming in a future blog post.
Alignment while sleeping on your side:
Sleeping on your side is typically ok for obtaining proper alignment, but there are a few ways a person can come out of alignment in this position. The placement of the head on the pillow is one area where someone can come out of alignment. If a person places their head in the center of the pillow, it often causes the head to turn upward. The best placement for the head on a pillow is actually at the edge, which allows the bend to be more natural.
*In this position my head is in the center of my pillow which actually turns my head upward putting a little twist in my neck.
*The placement of the pillow is much better in this side lying position because the head is not being pushed up by the pillow; therefore, the neck is in proper alignment.
*In this position the pillow is turning my head upward and putting a slight twist in my neck. It would be better to have my head on the edge of the pillow. In addition, my knees are drawn into my chest (the fetal position). In this position my lower back is rounded and my tailbone is tucked under. This is the position we spend most of our daily lives in, however it is NOT good for alignment.
*In this position my head is in the wrong place on the pillow as previously mentioned. In addition, my top leg is drawn into my chest. The placement of my top leg causes me to lose the natural curve of my lower back and adds a slight twist into my lower back. This sleeping position does NOT maintain good posture.
*This position is allows for good alignment to occur while sleeping. My head is positioned correctly on the pillow. My knees are bent but not draw into my chest, which results in my lower back and pelvis staying in a natural position instead of having the lower back lose its curvature and my tailbone to be tucked under. I have also placed a pillow in between my knees which allows my pelvis to stay stack, which means there is not a slight twist in my lower back.
As you practice good alignment while sleeping you need to evaluate where your body is at right now and your pillow or sleeping position is causing you from coming into good alignment.
Happy alignment sleeping!