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Office and Sleep Ergonomics

In patients with spinal disorders, especially individuals with neck pain or cervicogenic headaches, proper ergonomics of the desk and sleeping surfaces is critical in managing day-to-day symptoms and preventing flare-ups. Most Americans spend approximately 6-8 hours per day in front of a computer or on the desk and about 6-8 hours a day sleeping in bed. This means, about two thirds of the day is spent in one of the 2 positions.


Proper ergonomics of the desk as well as proper sleeping surface is an important part of preventing neck pain or lower back pain and also managing those individuals who have pre-existing neck pain or lower back pain.  Observing proper ergonomics combined with staying fit, daily exercising, stretching and frequent rest may result in decreased frequency of medical visits for these conditions.  

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Mattress and Pillow

Having a supportive mattress and pillow helps optimize your body and neck position while sleeping.  To prevent neck pain, maintaining a neutral position of the neck is important especially when you are side sleeping.


A mattress and pillow should support the natural curvature of your spine whether sleeping on your back or your side.  We suggest spending money on a quality mattress and pillow which are supportive.  Medium Firm foam or hybrid mattress  (6 out of 10 on the firmness scale ) combined with a memory foam pillow would likely provide you with a comfortable and supportive sleeping environment.  A well-constructed spring mattress or hybrid type mattress is also a good choice. Most modern mattresses should be changed every 7-10 years. Pillows should be changed every 3-5 years. Follow manufacturer recommendations regarding flipping or turning the mattress from time to time. 


It is important for the pillow to be tall enough so your head remains in a fairly neutral potion when you are side sleeping.  Your head should not be tilted excessively towards or away from the mattress when sleeping on your side. Avoid more than one pillow.  

There is no perfect sleeping position and individuals go through changing positions until they find what’s comfortable for them. Having said that, some sleep positions can put added pressure on your neck, shoulders, hips, lower back, all of which can lead to pain.  Typically, sleeping on your stomach can flatten the natural spine curvature and put some additional strain on your neck or lower back muscles. When lying on your stomach, your neck is rotated on the pillow which can increase pressure in the muscles and joints in your neck and create additional neck pain or headaches.  If you are a back sleeper, we recommend a pillow between your knees. If you are a stomach sleeper, a soft pillow under your abdomen may help ease up the strain on her lower back. If you are a side sleeper, a slight bend in your knee and hips with a pillow in between them can be helpful. 

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