I sleep like a fetus.
August 16, 2011 4:24 PM   Subscribe

How do I prevent from sleeping in fetal position? Neck and shoulder issues..

I am working with a physical therapist because of my crappy posture finally leading to shoulder/neckaches and headaches.

I think a big problem is with my sleeping position. I sleep on my side (despite falling asleep on my back) and I always wake up with my head pointed down causing neck strain. This also is affecting my shoulders as well.

I have a contoured memory foam pillow but it doesn't really help in regards to this.

I guess I need advice on how to keep my neck in a healthy position throughout the night. Is this possible? Is there a technique or cetain type of pillow that can help?
posted by KogeLiz to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried sleeping with one of those U-shaped airplane travel pillows? It could feel weird to start, but might keep you from bending your neck in any extreme angle.
posted by mauvest at 4:32 PM on August 16, 2011

I fall asleep on my side and the contour pillow helped me, but in this case, maybe one of those long narrow pillows would help - if it's long enough to be in your face when you're holding it with your arms on your side, it might force your neck straight instead of down into your arms/the pillow.
posted by cobaltnine at 4:35 PM on August 16, 2011

A pillow between your knees (when sleeping on your side) can help to straighten out your back.
posted by Gilbert at 4:47 PM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

First off: do you do any kind of strength training? If not, start.

It's fairly unlikely that your sleeping posture is even close to the root of any probelmatic posture misalignments. It's equally unlikely that any kind of sleep apparatus you care to name is going to redefine the length-tension relationships of your muscles, which are determined by your unconscious postural habits (which find definition specifically when those muscles are being engaged, i.e. when you sit, stand, walk, etc.).

Some clever arrangement of pillows, such as making a 'nest' to keep you flat on you back and prevent curling up might help. But don't trick yourself into believing that'll affect how you stand once you've been out of bed for 10 hours - changing that requires addressing particular weaknesses and impingements which are creating compensation patterns in your movement.

If your physical therapist can't directly address these issues, and explain them to you every step of the way, you should leave and seek someone who can.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 4:51 PM on August 16, 2011

I sleep on my sides holding a body pillow, with a stack of two pillows under my head with a cervical roll in the top pillowcase.

The body pillow supports my top knee and arm without hunching, the cervical roll (on two pillows, the height of my shoulder to my neck) supports my neck *and* doesn't let me put my chin down very far.

I had quit using the roll for several years (I was originally given one by a physical therapist after a car accident a long time ago) until I recently woke up in complete, agonizing neck spasm. The roll has fixed me right up. They do, however, go flat pretty quick, so don't expect it to last terribly long and replace as needed.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:03 PM on August 16, 2011 [3 favorites]

You can buy a bed that can power raise the head and foot halves, similar to a hospital bed. Then raise the head and the foot so it is semi-V shaped. You cannot sleep on it in any position except on your back. You can test it out by sleeping in a recliner chair. I have one of those power beds and I would never give it up.
posted by nogero at 5:25 PM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I sleep on my side and have to have the perfect pillow or my neck gets sore. My perfect pillow is a very old soft down pillow that I can shape to fit so that my neck stays straight. I also often use another pillow between my knees. I take my down pillow with me when I sleep elsewhere. So far, for the last twenty years or so, various relatives have supplied me with old down pillows but one of these days I'm going to have to get a new one. I figure I'll either buy down and make my own or buy a down pillow and carefully let half of the down out and sew it back up.
posted by mareli at 6:58 PM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I had similar problems. Three things I did that helped MASSIVELY (I'm a guy, YMMV):

- Leg pillow. Not a pillow between your legs, but a specialized memory foam leg pillow that's shaped roughly like an hourglass.

- Buckwheat neck roll

- Memory foam mattress. This definitely had the most impact for me. We got one from Keetsa.
posted by mkultra at 7:01 PM on August 16, 2011

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