After I wrote about the not-so-pretty side of beauty sleep—that'd be sleep lines, and yes, they are real—a friend told me she had nightmares. (I'm sorry!) Like me, a few also reported having trouble falling asleep on their backs, which is the best way to avoid these pesky lines. Clearly, Sleeping Beauty was onto something. Thankfully, my friend Rachel, a physical therapist, suggested a helpful tip for falling asleep on your back: put a pillow under your knees. I tried it immediately, and it was infinitely more comfortable. I didn't make it through the whole night that way, but it gave me hope that it's possible. I needed to know more, so I rang up Rachel to get the details. Here, she takes the questions that otherwise would have kept me up all night.
I assume you have patients who need to sleep on their backs for legit medical reasons, not my totally vain one. Still, can you tell us more about this pillow tip?
When we sleep completely flat on our backs, it puts pressure on the lumbar spine and can be painful for those with disc problems, nerve disorders, and other back problems. Having your hips elevated approximately 90 degrees greatly reduces the stress on your lower back. However, not everyone is comfortable with their legs elevated this high at night, and it can be especially challenging if you are sharing the bed with someone (talk about sheet fight!). So, I usually recommend that patients experiment with different-sized pillows, placed just under their knees and upper thighs, to find which feels most comfortable.
Do you suggest using a certain type of pillow?
Some people find using one fluffy pillow works best, while others use a firmer throw pillow. Some invest in a bolster or wedge that creates that 90 degree angle, however I find most people usually find a pillow at home works just as well.
For someone who usually tosses and turns, do you have any tips for staying supine all night?
If you’re a tosser and a turner, the pillow technique becomes a little more tricky. These are the people that toss the pillow across the room in the middle of the night because it just doesn’t work for them.
I think I did that last night. Is there anything else that might help?
Ultimately, you want to sleep through the night, so I recommend experimenting with various pillows and positions until you find what works for you! Making sure your head pillow isn’t too flat or too fluffy is important as well. If the pillow is disturbing your sleep more than helping, then your “beauty sleep” strategy pretty much goes out the window. Enjoy your zzzs, and I hope you wake up wrinkle free!
Thanks so much, Rachel! I’m gathering up all of my pillows and will start experimenting as soon as the sun goes down. So long, sleep lines, and sweet dreams to all!
(Image via Fanpop)