Last updated: Nov 03, 2008
This article was first published in Health magazine, March 2007.


The key to a restful night? Put it in neutral. When it comes to sleep, neutral means a position that supports the funky way your spine is shaped—forward curves at the neck and lower back and a backward sway in the middle. Just as theres good standing posture, the neutral position is good sleeping posture.

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Thats why theres all the fuss over finding a mattress and pillow that keep your spine correctly aligned and stress-free. “Imagine holding your wrist backward for a period of time. Its unnatural and uncomfortable,” says Roger Smith, DO, a Harvard Medical School sleep expert. “Without the proper support, your spine feels the same way.” Heres how to find neutral.

Back sleepers
If you have lower back pain, a small flat pillow under your knees may help your back curve naturally.

Side sleepers
A pillow between your knees can help to keep the pressure off of your hips.

Tummy sleepers
If you must sleep in this back-unfriendly way, a flat pillow under your tummy can help keep the spines natural curves.