Sleep Posture | Supine Lying Position - Part 2

Dr Timothy Lim

August 20, 2015

In Part 1 of the last article on sleep posture, we learned that there basically two types of sleep position: facing supine or side lying position. We also send it the most beneficial position for maintaining the curvature off the cervical spine may be the supine position.

Let’s now discuss the correct sleep posture for sleeping in the supine position and the side lying position. As mentioned in the previous article, if you do not feel comfortable sleeping in the facing up position, you have a neck alignment issue that needs to be corrected. To compensate for that most people would keep changing different pillows in the hope they can find one that will help them sleep better.

Correct Sleep Posture in Supine Position

If you are sleeping the supine position or facing up position, the optimal sleep posture is when your face is parallel to the ceiling or horizontal. Your pillow should be firm enough to support the weight of your head and neck. If your head is tilted forward, it may create a forward head posture syndrome. Below we will quickly discuss why the correct sleep posture in the supine position is so important.

We always want the cervical neck spine to be in alignment to the tip of the shoulder. From a posture standpoint, we want the middle of the ears to be in line with the tip of the shoulder. In Figure 1, we see that the shoulder line (shown in RED) is NOT in line with the ear line. To give you a better perspective, if we flip this person “while sleeping” into a standing position, his head would be forward (see Figure 2), in my opinion creating a forward head posture (FHP). Not a good posture considering you could be in this bad sleeping posture for about 8 hours!

Now in the other illustrations, we use a different, pillow that gets the neck spine to be in alignment to the tip of the shoulder. In Figure 3, the blue lines are rather in line with each other. This posture in my opinion is a correct sleeping posture. Factors that create this posture may include: material or age of the pillow, the current natural posture of your spine, the firmness of your bed, whether it is a contour pillow or regular flat pillow. I suggest you not be too concerned initially with these factors, but focus more on getting the alignment as shown. Tip: Use your camera to take a supine selfie and check if you are in alignment. When in the correct alignment, it will also encourage the upright posture as shown in Figure 4.

If you have questions, feel free to email us your picture if you like if you help check your posture.