With over 80% of Americans suffering from spine related pain according to research from the UNC School of Medicine and 68% of Americans struggling to fall or stay asleep according to a survey from Consumer Reports, the science of how to get a refreshing and comfortable night’s sleep is more relevant than ever. The scientific principle that lies at the center of both quality sleep and minimizing pain is a concept known as Spinal Alignment.
Sleep researchers have found that spinal alignment is one of the key factors in sparking restorative REM sleep. One study found that people sleeping on a bed which kept their spine properly aligned throughout the night, particularly side and stomach sleepers, spent 49% more time in REM vs. those with a misaligned or curved spines. Spinal alignment means preserving your backs natural “S-Shaped” curvature that it holds when you stand with good posture while you are lying horizontally when sleeping.
A mattress that isn’t supportive enough will sag in, overly curving your back, while a mattress that is too supportive won’t have the sink to allow your back to curve. Similarly, your neck has a gentle nature curvature that should be preserved for optimal sleep quality. Stacking too many pillows or sleeping on a pillow that is lofted too high can overly curve your cervical spine (AKA your neck) resulting in neck pain and strains, snoring, and other sleep related issues. An ideal pillow set up allows your head to rest in a neutral position, neither substantially elevated nor dipping down.