‘I’m an Orthopedic Spine Surgeon, and This Is *Exactly* What You Need for a Better Night’s Sleep’

Photo: Stocksy/Jennifer Brister
Waking up with a crick in your neck is a sign that your sleep posture is off, says Rahul Shah, MD, an orthopedic neck and spine surgeon. Same goes if you have trouble falling (and staying!) asleep. But therein lies the problem.

"Sleep is an important part of our lives, as it enables us to recharge and reset for the following day. Unfortunately, it's virtually impossible to be able to control your posture when you sleep," says Dr. Shah.

While you sleep, you subconsciously make certain adjustments to your body position to find comfort, but there's only so much that can be done once you're passed out. What you do before you hit the sack makes all the difference.

Experts In This Article
  • Rahul Shah, MD, board-certified orthopaedic spine surgeon at Premier Orthopedic Spine Associates in New Jersey

How to improve your sleep posture, according to a orthopedic spine surgeon

1. Rethink your pillow situation

One of the easiest ways to improve your sleep posture is to rethink your pillow situation. "In order to maximize optimal posture while sleeping, I find that focusing on different types of pillows can be helpful—especially for neck-related pain," Dr. Shah says.

He recommends trying pillows with different sides, shapes (like a cut-out for the neck), and different fills to see what works best for you. The Tempur-Cloud Pillow ($89 or two for $109) has a unique filling that provides ultimate comfort for people who sleep in a variety of positions. For a different shape, try the Eli & Elm Ultimate Pillow for Side Sleepers ($130). He also says using a body pillow can be beneficial—"especially when positioned between the knees and ankles," he says.

2. Invest in a better mattress

Photo: Leesa
Leesa Legend Mattress — $2,049.00

*$2049 for a queen-sized bed.

If you're experiencing stiffness and/or lower back pain, Dr. Shah suggests upgrading your mattress. "It can be helpful to try different types of mattresses, including those that are more versus less firm, and a spring versus foam top," he says. Some great picks are the Leesa Legend Mattress ($2,049) and the Tempur-Pedic Tempur-Cloud Mattress ($1,399).

"Additionally, if you find sleeping in a bed difficult, a common alternative is the use of a recliner." Reclining beds tend to cost more, but it could make all the difference in keeping you comfortable and pain-free.

This is what it's like to try $3,400 worth of technology for better sleep:

3. Stretch regularly

While setting yourself up to have good sleep posture can get expensive, there's something you can do that won't cost you a single cent: stretch and exercise. "Many folks may find that they wake up in the morning feeling as though their back is very stiff," says Dr. Shah. "For these folks, it is a good idea to try to improve their flexibility, and this can sometimes be accomplished by doing stretches, yoga, and Pilates."

Here's how to improve your posture with Pilates:

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