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Prevent Neck and Back Pain by Sleeping in This Position

Your muscles take on enough stress sitting hunched over a smartphone or computer all day, so you don't want to add more tension during the night too. That's when your body needs to rejuvenate. If you're getting out of bed with neck or back pain—or even experiencing aches later in the day—it's time to revamp your sleeping style. Here's how to position yourself.

The best posture for sidestepping soreness and waking up refreshed: lying on your side, says Robert Hayden, a chiropractor and spokesperson for the American Chiropractic Association. "Sleeping on your side is better than on your back, which can cause your tongue to block your airway," he explains. Catching zzz's while on your stomach is the worst choice, because turning your head to the side and twisting your neck can lead to long-term injuries.

To get even more comfy on your side, grab a body pillow. (Try the Bodymate Body Pillow or Restful Nights Body Pillow.) Pull it into your chest and hug the cushion so that your upper arm and leg wrap over the top. The pillow should run from your armpits to your knees to keep your entire spine in a straight line, with your shoulders and hips at the same height. This also stops you from partially rolling over and twisting your lower back, leading to some suffering come morning and prolonged back pain.

Properly aligning the pillow under your ear is key. You don't want one that props up your head, as that causes strain. Go for a soft cushion that keeps your neck straight. That way you'll wake up saying "ahh" not "ouch."