According to a study by World Neurosurgery, many scoliosis patients suffer from sleep disorders. The study suggests that those with congenital scoliosis or thoracic scoliosis are the worst victims of sleep impairment.
When you get to know this disease more closely, you realize how true the statement is. Research and observations on the scoliosis patients’ sleeping patterns helped the researchers develop a list of practical tips for sleeping better with scoliosis.
The article here doesn’t intend to provide any medical advice or discuss any cure for the disease itself. It only aims to get the patients ahead of scoliosis-related problems at bedtime.
Scoliosis and Its Affects on Sleep
Doctors define scoliosis as an abnormal curvature or deformation of the spine. Some of the key points about this disease include the following:
- The sideways deformation can either occur in the thoracic (or middle) part of the spine, known as thoracic scoliosis or in the lower (or lumbar) part of the spine, known as lumbar scoliosis.
- Mostly diagnosed in childhood or adolescents but continues as adult scoliosis for a lifetime.
- Causes are generally unknown, but a few possible causes include muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy.
- The type of scoliosis mainly includes structural scoliosis, which is genetic, and non-structural scoliosis, which can occur over time due to accidental posture issues.
- Symptoms of scoliosis include sleep disorders, uneven shoulder blade, uneven waist, misaligned hip, and a prominent rib cage.
- Generally, cases are mild, but the curve can worsen over time and lead to severe scoliosis or disabling conditions.
How it Impairs sleep
Some doctors consider it a neuromuscular disorder that causes miscommunication of the nervous system with the spine. Several studies, including a study from the National Library of Medicine, also linked scoliosis to serotonin production and melatonin impairment for causing sleep disorders.
Let’s take a quick look at how scoliosis impairs sleep here.
- Idiopathic scoliosis patients who have thoracic curves suffer the most from sleep disorders.
- insomnia/sleeplessness, hypopnea, and sleep apnea are common sleep issues noticed due to such spinal deformity
- More respiratory events of short or no breathing in a brief period were noticed in patients who are considered hypopnea/apnea
- Causes sore or pressure spots along the spine and also impacts pulmonary function, making it difficult for the patient to sleep
Practical Tips for Sleeping Better with Scoliosis
After hearing it from the doctors and experts in the field, here’s what we’ve got for sleeping better with this spinal curvature.
1. Find the Right Sleep Position
With little tweaks in your sleeping position, you can do a great favor to your back and get chronic pain relief. Consider the following positions for sleeping better with scoliosis.
- Sleep on Your Back: According to MayoClinic, sleeping on your back can help you a lot with scoliosis. With chest up and other organs aligned in the right position, you can breathe better and also have fewer respiratory events related to apnea. It’s advised to use a pillow below your knees and neck to support the natural curve of your body.
- Sleep On Your Side: Sleeping on the side is also considered ideal for people with scoliosis, according to MayoClinic. They say it takes the strain off the back. You can tuck a small couch in the space between the mattress and the stomach and between the legs for maximum comfort.
- Please don’t Sleep on your Stomach: Dr. Raymond Hall, one of California’s most renowned chiropractic care providers, recommends that patients with scoliosis must avoid sleeping on their stomachs. He says that sleeping in such a position can worsen the curvature of the spine by pushing it more out of the alignment.
2. Sleep on the Right Mattress
Getting the right sleep surface and avoiding a bad mattress are significant considerations. Clayton J. Stitzel DC, the CEO of ScoliSMART, says they’re frequently asked about the right mattresses for scoliosis.
He says the key is to get a mattress that supports the neutral position of the back. A firmer mattress with high-quality making is the best choice in this case. He also suggests choosing a mattress thickness of around 3 inches and combining it with a cervical pillow and mattress toppers for maximum comfortability.
3. Use Pillows or Other Sleeping Aids
For back sleepers, a pillow beneath the neck and knees, and for side sleepers, a pillow between the knees could provide great support at bedtime. You can also use other sleeping aids like wedge pillows or towels to close the gap between your body and the mattress. Check out some excellent scoliosis pillows here to find your most suited one.
4. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle & Ambiance
Even though you’re a scoliosis patient, a good nighttime sleep depends on many other things. It mainly includes maintaining a healthy lifestyle in terms of having a nutritious diet, doing the prescribed exercises, performing the normal activities in the right posture, and sleeping in a room with a soothing ambiance.
Besides, it would help if you didn’t do tasks that put extra pressure on your spinal curve. All these should come in handy for getting a night of good sleep with scoliosis.
This article isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution and isn’t meant for patients who use braces. We know every scoliosis patient goes through different experiences.
But we believe this general guideline, based on expert opinions, should help scoliosis patients suffering from sleep issues get a night of better nighttime sleep. Besides these tips, we suggest you maintain an ideal posture all the time and also explore all the treatment options for a quick possible recovery.
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