She said to me, “I don’t remember a lot of the stuff in the wrist pain booklet, but I remember the part about sleeping on your back to keep your chest open, and I do that. And my wrists do hurt less!”
When we sleep on our sides, our shoulders usually get squashed forward. And, we most likely have both arms curled up, too. When we sleep like this, the muscles on our chest that attach to our arms get shortened.
After being in that position while sleeping for several hours, and then holding our arms and heads in front of us for most of the day, all the muscles in the front of our body tend to get short.
This is not good!
This causes discomfort in our arms, hands and wrists (along with many other places.)
But, opening up the chest is good. Stretching our arms and legs back (behind) us is good.
Think of a cat, or a dog, or a baby. Think about how they stretch.
They all stretch long, and open, and outward, away from their centers.
And so should we.
We used to, but we forgot about doing that as we “grew up” and became shy or self-conscious about calling attention to ourselves.
But we can stretch all we want in private. (“Private” includes the restroom at work, if that is the only private space you have there.)
Getting back to sleeping.
You can help the muscles on the front of your body become longer and more open by sleeping on your back. Even if you can only do it for part of the night, you are giving your arms and chest muscles a break.
Try sleeping with your arms at your sides, thumbs up or palms up. At first, it may feel very different from what you are used to. But this is very good for your arms.
You might even be able to feel your muscles become longer!
If the tendency to curl your arms feels too great, open them as far as you can, perhaps resting them near your hips. For a little assistance in keeping your arms straight, you can tuck the edge of your hands under your hips for a little while.
Press your shoulders gently but firmly back into your mattress. This strengthens the muscles in your back and strong back muscles help hold your shoulders where they should be.
Place a small, simple neck roll (homemade is perfect) behind your neck, or use the flattest, softest pillow you can sleep comfortably with behind your head. The goal is to support the small healthy curve in your neck while keeping your head as close to the mattress as possible.
When we sleep with our head pushed forward, and we spend most of our day with our head in a forward position, our muscles think that’s where they should stay: short and forward.
Just as when we are standing and sitting, we need to be in the most neutral correct position we can when we sleep.
“Because You Deserve To Feel Better!”