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Sleeping properly to repair your body

Sleeping properly to repair your body

Paul Kochoa, PT, DPT, OCS, CGFI


You spend ⅓ of your life sleeping.  Sleep is an integral part of your life, doing it properly is so important.

When you’re awake, your brain works all the time, learning new things and building neural connections. When you sleep, it can rest and reorganize all the information it processed throughout the day.  Without sleep, your brain doesn’t have enough time to rest and recover, your immune system breaks down and your central nervous system goes haywire. This can increase your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease, and sleep deprivation-related accidents.

Sleep is also a time for your body and muscles to recover.  There is a surge in growth hormone and testosterone, important hormones for repairing and growing muscles, especially if you’ve done a lot of working out or exercise that day.

How much should you sleep?  Adults should sleep 7-9 hours per night.

What sleeping position is best? Generally, people sleep on their back, side, or stomach.  But not all sleeping positions are created equal.

Lying on your back really relieves the pressure on your spine.  You can further unload your spine by placing a pillow under your knees and a thin pillow for your head.  The important thing is not using too much pillow for your head, which can place your head and neck in a more stressful, flexed position.

Lying on your side is the second best, there’s some increase in spinal and shoulder loading, but may be more comfortable for most people.  To keep your spine in a more neutral position, place a pillow between your knees.  People who side-sleep also need a thicker head pillow than people who back-sleep.

Lying on your stomach is probably the worst position to be in for any prolonged amount of time.  It is very difficult to maintain a neutral spine while on your stomach.  Your lower back gets overextended, and your neck gets rotated and extended.  

The key is keeping your lower back and your neck in neutral positions. The more neutral, the better.  Remember, sleep is important physiologically and mentally.  It’s ⅓ of your life, spend it wisely.

If you would like more information, please call Professional Physical Therapy and Training at 973-270-7417.  Our offices are located within the YMCA locations in Madison and Summit, NJ.  You do not need to be a member of the YMCA to visit us.



Image courtesy of imagerymajestic /

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