Scoliosis is a spine deformity where the spine grows in a sideways curvature. Scoliosis often occurs just before puberty, but can also occur in cases of muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy. It is believed that approximately 3% of adults live with scoliosis, which can make some aspects of their lives pretty difficult.
One of the struggles includes sleeping and sleeping positions. Even though the majority of the scoliosis cases include mild deformities, it is still hard to find the sleeping position in which you’re comfortable and promoting proper spinal curvature and position.
Therefore, in the following paragraphs, we’ll take a look at a few sleeping positions considered to be the best in scoliosis cases. But, before you utilize any of our recommendations or advice, make sure to consult with your doctor or medical professional who is familiar with your case and medical history. This way you will avoid further damage or pain to your spine.
Best Ways To Sleep With Scoliosis
Savasana Sleeping Position (Sleeping On The Back)
Savasana sleeping position, or sleeping on the back, is considered to be the overall best sleeping position. In this position, you’re ensuring that your neck, shoulders, spine, hips, and legs are properly aligned and straight. This is the body’s natural position, which is hard to achieve for people with scoliosis.
So, by sleeping in the savasana position, you’re using this precious time to promote proper spine alignment without causing too much pressure or possible further damage or pain.
Not to mention, scoliosis is known to create health issues with lungs and heart. It can sometimes put additional pressure onto the chest and create obstructive breathing problems.
So, the savasana position can actually help you breathe properly; sleeping on the back gives your lungs and heart more room to expand and to function.
This sleeping position has numerous benefits, but it can be surely hard to achieve when you’re uncomfortable and in pain. Here are some of our recommendations on how you can sleep on your back while being comfortable and cozy;
- Getting the right mattress – a medium-firm mattress would be the best choice for scoliosis cases. A medium-firm mattress conforms to the curvature of the body, but also provides support and relieves pressure from all the pressure points (back, hips, neck, shoulders, knees). Such a mattress is usually memory foam or latex foam, breathable, made from natural materials, and completely supportive of your body. It will make your savasana sleeping position comfortable and good for your back and spine.
- Using sleep accessories (pillows, mattress toppers) – to improve your savasana sleeping position, try using sleep accessories. For example, a mattress topper is excellent because it provides an additional layer of padding. It makes the mattress more supportive and comfortable. It can also improve cheaper and older mattresses, which can be an excellent money-saving solution. On the other hand, having additional pillows can be also helpful. You can place a pillow under your lower back for better alignment, or under your knees to relieve the pressure from the back as well. You can utilize pillows to your liking and needs, and that is what makes them essential for the savasana sleeping position.
- Custom solutions – there are numerous mattress- and sleep accessories companies that provide custom solutions in cases of back problems. People with sciatica, fibromyalgia, or scoliosis can get custom made mattresses that will fit their sleeping needs and prevent further spine damage. Try looking for such a company in your area, or contact Specialty Mattress for more information.
Sleeping On The Side
Sleeping on the side is generally considered to be the best sleeping position for scoliosis. The reason for that lies in the ability to allow the spinal curve to sink into the mattress and relieve the pressure. You’re then using the comfort and conformity of the sleeping surface to help you align your spine, as well as your neck, shoulders, and hips.
However, in order to take advantage of this sleeping position properly, it is essential you sleep on the side where the scoliosis curve is the most prominent. If the spinal curve is, let’s say, more prominent on the right side, then sleep on that side, and ensure you’re also doing the following;
- Bring the knees to your chest – this will ensure you’re achieving the proper spinal alignment which won’t be disturbed since you’ve moved the pressure from the back onto the knees; now your legs act as a balance and support for the position. For the best effect, make sure to place a pillow between the knees/legs which will provide additional support for the spinal curvature and the pelvis.
- Use pillows for additional support – it is not only important to place a pillow between the legs. In order to raise the cervical lordosis or the curve in the spine, it is important to also place a pillow under the waist area. This will ensure a more neutral, stable, and supportive position.
Note: if you want to try sleeping on your side, but you’re also someone who suffers from acid reflux/GERD and heartburn, we recommend you try sleeping on your left side.
By sleeping on the right side, your stomach will be raised above your esophagus and you’ll experience heartburn or acid reflux during the night. If your scoliosis is on the right side, then try to switch things up, and change sides every night.
How To Use Sleep Accessories For Scoliosis?
Before you actually go on and take our advice and recommendations, make sure to discuss them with your doctor or medical professional as well. This way you’ll know whether these are fit for your particular scoliosis case.
Now, as we’ve mentioned before, we recommend you use additional supportive pillows and mattress toppers. Here are some more tips on how sleep accessories can be used to improve sleeping positions for scoliosis and make them more customizable;
- If you have a thoracic or a right-leaning curve – in this case, you can use a pillow to relieve the pain in plenty of different ways. For example, place a small, thinner pillow under your shoulder blades. You can also place a similar pillow under the ribs area or the waist area. You can try, in addition to these pillows, placing a small rolled towel under the neck area to provide extra support and stability while sleeping on the back. In case you sleep on the side, the pillow between the legs is essential.
- If you have lumbar scoliosis – in this case, the curvature of your spine is on the very basis of the spine. That is why it is important to provide extra support in every possible area. For example, you will need a good pillow for your head, a small pillow or a rolled towel for your neck and a pillow for your shoulder blades or upper back and the lower back. Consider where the curvature is the most prominent and make sure to place a pillow there as well.
- If you have cervical scoliosis – in this case, there is an issue with the five spinal bones that support your neck. So, it is essential you use a proper head pillow and an additional pillow or rolled tower for the neck and the upper back. In case you sleep on the side, then you will only need the rolled towel under the neck. It is also essential to keep the whole spine properly aligned, as well as the hips and the shoulders. This will ensure that the neck curve naturally straightens.
Measures That Improve Scoliosis And Ensure Better Sleep
A proper sleeping position is important for scoliosis, but it is not the only thing you need to do or be aware of. Here are some of the measures that can help you manage scoliosis and improve your sleep with this spinal deformity;
- Regular exercising – physical activity and regular exercise are essential in the case of scoliosis. Studies have shown that exercise can contribute to the prevention of progression fo scoliosis in more than 27% of cases. Other studies (conducted in the U.S. by using the MedX Torso Rotation machine) have shown that in up to 40% of cases physical activity and exercise have increased the musculoskeletal strength, reducing the need for braces or surgery. Not to mention that regular physical activity improves sleep onset and helps the production of melatonin before bedtime.
- Improving breathing – because scoliosis is proven to directly affect one’s lungs and airways, it is important to take care of those issues. Breathing obstruction can worsen the quality of sleep or make it impossible. Machines like CPAP machines or oxygen concentrators (usually used for sleep apnea) can help the lungs reach full capacity and ensure proper breathing throughout the night. It is important to also take care of nasal congestion or any other forms of breathing obstruction that can worsen the case.
- Getting a proper mattress – when it comes to scoliosis or any other spine/back issue, getting a proper mattress is a no-brainer. A medium-firm, memory foam mattress can do wonders; it can support your spine and back while you sleep, it ensures that your whole body is properly aligned, and of course, it relieves the pressure from the back, hips, shoulders, and neck while also conforming to the curvature of the body. Make sure to invest in a good mattress, because in the long run, it will not only help you sleep better, but also help you manage your scoliosis.
We truly hope that some of our tips will be helpful to you. Make sure to discuss them with your doctor or a medical professional familiar with your case. We don’t want your situation to worsen, so extra caution is always welcome.
So, the bottom line is this; it takes time and determination to fix something, especially as complicated as a spine. We believe that you can manage your scoliosis and still get a good night’s sleep by truly following the advice and recommendations and by persisting. Good luck!