“Sit up straight!” “Don’t hunch your shoulders.” “Hold your stomach in.”

We’ve probably heard these directions told to us many times throughout our lives. Whether it was when we were kids at the dinner table or in our own minds when we’re sitting at our desk at the office. Being strict with our posture matters. Below we dive more into how sleep affects posture, the best sleeping positions and what you can do to improve your posture as you rest.

The importance of good posture

Posture can make or break your health in ways you may have not considered. For one, it keeps your spine healthy. According to Nina Strang, a physical therapist at the University of Michigan: “Good posture is also known as neutral spine. When we have good posture, the muscles surrounding the spine are balanced and supporting the body equally.”

Besides spinal health, good posture also improves blood flow to your muscles and releases unnecessary strain. When you keep your bones and joints in optimal alignment, you’re less likely to experience back, neck and shoulder pain. And quite frankly – none of us want to experience those pain levels, especially if you have arthritis or chronic back pain.

Maintaining good posture while standing and sitting decreases wear and tear on the muscles and structures that you need most.

But the thing is, good posture isn’t just connected to what we do while sitting and standing. How we sleep is equally important to our posture.

How does my sleep affect my posture?

This may seem surprising. After all, we’re not always thinking about posture when we turn in for the night. You might not even know that how you’re sleeping is failing at maintaining proper spinal alignment, which we need to support the natural curvature of our lower back.

We talk a lot about setting your mind up for a restful night’s sleep in the evening. But if you’re not prioritizing your posture, then your overall sleep quality and daily wellbeing can be compromised. Poor posture while sleeping can potentially lead to interrupted sleep, increased tension and body pain. Read: a miserable way of living. So now you may be wondering, are there better ways to sleep than others? How can I sleep in a way that keeps my posture aligned?

Of course, you can’t be in full control of your sleep posture once you hit the deep realms of your dreams. But you can take measures to set yourself up for better alignment and subsequently: better posture.

What is the best sleeping position for good posture?

The most ideal sleep position for optimum posture is your back. This is a natural, easy and supportive way to ease your body into a comfortable and aligned state. It’s especially useful to put a pillow or cushion under your knees. But hopefully, your mattress works with you to contour your body appropriately.

If back sleeping isn’t your thing (especially if you have sleep apnea or snoring issues), then you can also sleep on your side with your knees bent. The key is to sleep in a way that keeps your ears, shoulders and hips in line. We go into more detail below on how to best protect your back and spine while catching those well deserved zzzz’s.

4 easy ways to improve your posture while you sleep

You’re one step closer to perfect posture

There’s no point in being conscious of your posture during the day, if you won’t also be conscious of your posture throughout sleeping hours. Once you know how to sleep in a way that benefits your posture and spine, you’ll be able to get better sleep, erase intense back pain and feel more rested overall. Consult a chiropractor if you need further support.