Is your sleep posture affecting your health?

Good sleeping posture may be more important for overall health than previously thought.

Research published in the Journal of Neuroscience in 2015, shows that body posture may affect the efficiency of the brain and spinal system’s waste clearance [1]. The research suggests that sleeping on your side may be better for your brain and the health of your spine.

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They found that drainage of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) (and it’s immune cells) was best with laying on the side, as opposed to laying on their back or standing up. (This research, though performed with mice, is likely to be similar to humans, with more research needed).

The drainage and subsequent renewal of the CSF is important to prevent changes in brain physiology that can be seen in some neural diseases such as dementia [2].

Although we’re only just beginning to understand the importance of sleep to brain health, there is evidence that it is critical for memory consolidation [3]. Quality of sleep is therefore just as important as the position you sleep in.

Posture when you’re asleep is just as important as posture when you're awake, and good posture is important not only for spinal health, but brain health too. Ensuring your body is moving and communicating the best it can, as well as other lifestyle changes, can help to keep your posture at its best.

With the focus of chiropractic care on the health and integrity of the nervous system, chiropractors understand the spinal cord (part of the central nervous system) processes information just like parts of the brain do [4]. In 2015, a study published in the journal Experimental Brain Research [5], suggests that full spine chiropractic care can significantly improve brain-body communication and coordination.

To get the best out of your spinal posture and central nervous system function, chiropractors recommend the following:

1)    Get checked - help your and your families spine and nervous system to function at an optimal level for overall health and well-being. Your chiropractor can also give you great advice on making positive lifestyle changes.

2)    Straighten Up daily - Doing the three-minute set of simple exercises recommended by Straighten Up New Zealand every day helps improve posture, stabilise core muscle groups, enhance health and prevent spinal disability. Find the download here.

3)    Sleep on a quality mattress - how old is your mattress? How firm is it, and how much support does it give you while sleeping?

4)    Take regular Posture Breaks

  • Sit or stand, lightly contract your stomach muscles to support the lower abdomen and lower back
  • Straighten your arms, and take them both behind you, with your thumbs up and your hands facing outwards
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together, and down your back
  • Tuck your chin in, then tilt your head back a little
  • Hold this position for 30seconds, at least 5 times per day, breathing deep into your diaphragm.

5)    Get up and move throughout the day- sitting is the new smoking, and standing is not the answer…changing your position frequently is!



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  • 5. Niazi IK, Türker KS, Flavel S, Kinget M, Duehr J & Haavik H. (2015) Changes in Hreflex and V waves following spinal manipulation. Experimental Brain Research. In press. DOI: 10.1007/s0022101441935 URL link:
  • Adapted from NZCA Media Release 16/10/15