I have heard excuses time and time again but more often than not, I have also seen some terrible neck pain issues come into my office with the person who never sleeps on their back.
The problem is that the basic essential conflict that when we sleep on our stomach which we will typically learn by the age of 6 or 7, we have to crank our heads at least 45 degrees and sometimes up to 70-80 degrees in order to breath. This sustained rotation causes muscular, ligamentous and disc stress which can lead to spinal degeneration and pain!!
But if that’s not enough to deter a person, what about the wrinkles!?
Let’s FACE it, pressure plus heat production equals cellular deformation. Ask anyone who does their own ironing! Then add into the bad mix pillows made from bad fillers, feather and down, or polyurethane foam and you’ve got even more heat production.
The money spent on Botox, anti-wrinkle face creams, and face-lifts costs billions of dollars each year but do we really want to go to such extremes and expense? The choice is again up to the person. Yes, there are some legitimate rationalizations for side sleeping but truly, not for stomach sleeping.
The bottom line is we should teach our children not to develop the habit of stomach sleeping in the first place and if you’re young, middle aged, or old and still sleeping on your stomach, find a way to wean yourself off and onto your back or side. There are pillows that can help immensely with the issue. Perhaps you should start there and ask your doctor for further advice.
By Dr. Raymond Hall, DC, Santa Monica Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Group