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Abstract

Purpose: An epidemiological study was undertaken to investigate the association between sleep position, age, gender, sleep quality and prevalence of waking cervical pain and stiffness, headache and aching between the scapulae and/or in the arm. Method: A randomly administered telephone survey was completed by 76% of prospective participants, yielding 812 completed surveys. Results: This study confirmed that the majority of subjects sleep in the side lying position and that this sleep position significantly protected against waking cervical, scapular and arm pain and significantly promoted high sleep quality ratings. Anecdotally, supine sleep position has been recommended for the prevention of cervical symptoms however, this study identified no advantage in adopting the supine sleep position in relation to the prevalence of waking symptoms. The adoption of an upright sleep position was significantly associated with increased prevalence of all waking symptom categories and low sleep quality ratings. These findings were of greater significance in the presence of medication use, or a medical condition which affected sleep quality. Prone sleep position was not significantly related to waking symptom reports. Small subject numbers confounded this analysis and further research in this area with larger subject numbers is required. Conclusions: The findings of this study support the need for health professionals to consider individuals’ sleep position and waking symptom history when developing a management plan for troublesome waking symptoms.

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