From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Can Sleeping Be the Enemy?

Who hasn’t awakened to a strange ache, courtesy of sleeping “the wrong way?”  Most of the time, that stiff neck, back twinge or arm ache goes away a few hours later.  But sometimes, the simple pains of sleeping can surface in greater pains, in back pain, neck pain or shoulder pain that sticks around and affects more than just the pain sufferer’s ability to get a good night’s sleep.


Sandra Miller sees the problem all too often.  As an ergonomist for a western utility company, Miller said one of the things she asks about when addressing an employee’s back problem is sleep posture.  “People don’t see that as an affect,” Miller told The Ergonomics Report in a May, 2003 interview, “but it’s something I’ve seen a lot.”


Aside from assuming odd positions, uncomfortable positions or unfamiliar bedding, another problem with sleep can come from a sleeper who needs recovery time from a previous task (say work or an outside activity) but who assumes a position that doesn’t offer the body a chance to recover says Houston-based ergonomist Brenda Barnard.  Barnard’s philosophy on back pain is similar to Miller’s

This article originally appeared in The Ergonomics Report™ on 2003-09-01.