Couch Surfing

Slept Wrong? Here’s How to Fix It

Something I hear a lot in the office is: “Hey doc, I need to see you because I slept wrong.” I see this all the time, and everyone always says just like that, “I slept wrong.” It’s almost like a rite of passage, right? You turned 40, I just turned 40 and all the sudden it’s like, yep, I just sleep wrong. I had to be literally tackled by another human being to get back pain a couple of decades ago. But now, nope, my bed won that round. You know? I guess we’ll try again tonight. And so, I want to talk about it in the context of sleeping on the couch first, because this is something that you can avoid.

You need to avoid sleeping on the couch, because this is the quickest way to get back pain. It may seem that couch makers and chiropractors are in cahoots. I bet you didn’t know that! The arms of couches are made to really injure your neck. Armrests on couches are made for your arms, they’re not made for your neck. So, if you’re trying to sleep on your side on this armrest, what you’re going to get is this wood covered with polyurethane foam that is designed to rest your arm on. It’s designed for just a little bit of weight for a little bit of time.

But if you put your neck on that armrest and you take a nap of any length, I don’t care if it’s five minutes or five hours or five days, you’re going to get his neck pain. That pressure of that wood on your neck is going to cause some of those joints to stop working well, it’ll cause some muscle strain injury as one side gets too much tension and the other side doesn’t get enough tension. That is going to lead to neck pain. So, don’t sleep on the couch, people! It’s not designed to sleep on, it is designed to sit on and watch a football team or a soccer match. When it’s time to go to bed, go to bed, or just do whatever it takes to avoid falling asleep on the couch.

Now let’s talk about sleeping wrong in bed because we’ve alluded to this in some videos on our YouTube channel. We’ve talked about sleep before and how important sleep is to all aspects of health. But we didn’t really talk about sleep posture as much, and I get this all the time. How are you supposed to sleep? What’s the good sleep posture? Research only really agrees with one thing, and that is that you’re not supposed to sleep face down with your head turned to the side. It messes up your spinal curves and therefore your spine is too straight from front to back. You’re supposed to have curves in your spine.

When you sleep face down, you lose some of those curves and it increases your risk for disc herniations later on in life. So, don’t sleep face down. We know that. The other part of it is, sleep quality is more important than sleep posture. I’d even argue that if the only way you can sleep is face down, then sleep face down, right? I mean, that’s like a no brainer. Sleep is much more important than a posture that you sleep in, so I would risk disc herniations later in life versus not being able to sleep for almost any length of time. Sleep is that important. Sleeping on your back is fine. Sleeping on your side is fine, usually. I would argue that if you have upper back injury, if you have shoulder injuries, sleeping on your side is probably not the greatest idea.

Here at Nightlight Chiropractic, we are always looking for great content for our patients. If you have any questions or comments, you can find us at for appointments or things related to the office here in downtown Orlando. We wish you pleasant dreams and a healthy sleep!

About Dr. Merrill

headshot of Dr merrill
Dr. Andrew Merrill is a passionate active clinician and owner of Nightlight Chiropractic Orlando where him and his team treat hundreds of patients each month. With a strong background in exercise science from Stetson University, clinical skills from Palmer College of Chiropractic, and continued postdoctoral training in spinal disc injuries and clinical nutrition, Dr. Merrill is very well versed in the healthcare landscape. With topics ranging from "what to do for common ailments" to "why the medical system is failing you" Dr. Merrill and this blog in particular aim to keep readers up to date on what the research shows and how you can put it into practice NOW to keep yourself healthy for a lifetime.