To sleep, perchance to dream


So, you’ve found yourself with back or neck pain, and you’re actually ok during the day. However, two hours after going to bed at night and you’re in pain again. How is that possible when you’ve literally just been lying around?

There is a lot of contradictory advice on beds/ pillows/ sleep positions, and the research is mixed. So here goes on some good old fashioned advice on what I find works best with patients… no scientific study, no randomised control trial, simply tried and tested advice on decreasing your symptoms.

Hard or soft bed?

With beds, you tend to get what you pay for, although every now and again there are products that contradict this rule.

Are you super stiff or inflexible? Why would you then sleep on a really rigid bed? Try something with a little more give.

Are you little Miss Flexible? Don’t sleep on a really soft bed then! A more supportive bed will help to keep you in a better position.


The aim of the game is to keep your spine in line. This isn’t important during the day as we are constantly changing position. At night we tend to stay in one place for longer, and if that position is a bit squiffy, it can give you some issues, particularly if you’ve got a weaker/ previously injured/ degenerate area. If you’re mainly a side sleeper, make sure that your pillow/ pillows keep your nose in line with the middle of your chest. If you’re a back sleeper make sure you keep the pillow under your neck (not your shoulders) and keep your earlobe in line with the middle of your shoulders. If you’re a front sleeper, stop it!! Try barricading yourself in with pillows so you can’t lie on your front. But if you must sleep on your belly you really need the skinniest pillow possible.

If you have a hard bed you probably will get on better with softer pillows and visa versa. Whatever pillows you will be using have to be tried out on the bed you are sleeping on. I know this sounds a bit of a dumb thing to say, but it really is important. Firm pillows + firm bed = neck ache in the morning. Soft pillows + soft bed = sore shoulders/ thoracic spine in the morning

If you are a side sleeper with knee or hip pain try and sleep with a pillow between your knees that keeps your hip from dropping down or forward.

If you are a back sleeper with back pain, try a pillow under your knees for support.

If you are a dreaded tummy sleeper with back pain, try lying over a medium sized pillow along the line of your pelvis. This will stop your spine dropping into extension (backward bending) which is sore on lots of people.

Hope this gives you some advice, but if you’re needing some more specific information to your aches and pains, please call in for an appointment and we are more than happy to help.