Do often you wake up with back, neck or pelvic pain after watching TV in bed?
I am sure you deserve binge-watching your favorite Netflix show in bed from time to time!
However, while you don’t want to defeat the purpose of watching TV in bed and make it “feel like work”, you also don’t want to cause harm to your body either.
Your muscles and joints adapt to the position your body takes most often.
If you spend those 6 hours with bad posture you might be hurting your health more than you think.
When watching TV in bed, most people tend to:
- Tuck in the pelvis (which hurts the sacroiliac joints and pelvic floor),
- Flex the lumbar spine (which increases pressure on discs between the vertebrae), and
- Allow the bed to do the work instead of the muscles (which decreases blood and lymph flow, part of the immune system which requires movement to function properly).
That may sound grim but don’t worry, it’s possible to enjoy your shows and offset the harm by maintaining a better position while watching TV in bed.
If there is a correct posture for watching TV in bed it would be to NOT lie down while watching since it causes damaging strain to the neck and back which support the head in that position. Avoid it by practicing healthy postural habits, yoga poses and re-designing your bedroom to be more ergonomic.
Read much more on all this below!
General Healthy Postural Habits
According to Dr. Norman Marcus, founder of the Norman Marcus Pain Institute, preventing back pain is the best way to eliminate it.
So follow the tips below next time you settle in to watch your favorite movie.
- Don’t sit still.
To avoid stressing the postural muscles in your body, try to move so that they have the chance to recover their strength and flexibility.
It is important to avoid staying in one position for a long time.
- Cross your legs.
Crossing your legs is an easy way to engage many back and hip muscles. When you are at a long meeting or in the theater, simply cross your legs and after some time, cross the other.
- Don’t strain when doing household chores.
Muscles perform best when they are not completely lengthened or contracted. To achieve this, avoid bending frequently by either kneeling or squatting instead. Use an upright vacuum cleaner and keep your most often used household items on easily accessible shelves.
Following these tips are also great if you already have poor posture, but in that case, you might want to consider doing some extra work.
This article from Workspace Bliss covers a lot of great excercises you should practice if you spend a lot of time in front of the television and/or computer.
Watching TV In bed
There is no way of getting around this without saying that you should avoid watching TV while lying down as much as possible.
Ask any professional and they will recommend that you never watch TV while lying down because supporting your head to look at your TV causes too much strain on the back and neck from that position.
To instead encourage an upright posture and bent knees, consider using plenty of pillows. Not only will you have a better viewing angle, but you will provide support to your spine without stressing your neck.
An even better option is to try practicing yoga poses. Personally, yoga recently got a big come-back in my life and it is just one of those things that are extremely helpful for people with sedentary lifestyles.
Doing some different yoga poses while watching TV ensures better body alignment while simultaneously improving strength and flexibility.
Below are some examples anyone can practice. Note that you should change poses when one becomes uncomfortable.
- Sphinx Pose
Lie on your stomach with your elbows under your shoulders. Push your hands into the bed or floor, pulling the floor back.
Imagine you are watching TV with your collarbones. This shape releases the hip and groin and opens the chest. This prevents slouching.
- Supported hero’s pose
Sit on as many pillows as necessary. Bring your knees together. Make sure your toes are pointing back or inwards.
Use the front of your sitting bones as though rocking forward on a rocking chair. This shape helps align your feet, knees, and spine by encouraging their natural curvature.
Sit up on a pillow at the side of the bed, ensuring that your hips are above your knees.
Cross one knee over the other and place your hands over them. Sit as upright as possible while making sure that both sitting bones are on your pillow.
After some time, switch knees, crossing the other on top. This shape will help open up the TFL, IT Band, and all outer hip muscles that tend to tighten when working at a computer for several hours.
- Resting Shiva, LAT stretch
Lie on your side, propping up your head with your arm by placing your hand under your ear. Make sure your neck is active and elongated.
Try to lift your body from your underarm. Keep your knees slightly bent and rest them on top of each other. Feel the opening on the side body.
This will stabilize your hip and release the lower back.
Find more yoga poses for watching television here.
Ergonomic Bedroom Design For Watching TV
In addition to keeping healthy postural habits, for real significant improvements you should consider the design of your bedroom.
For a general bedroom ergonomics, your mattress, pillows, and your sleeping position have a big impact on your posture. You can read more about sleeping posture here.
For watching television, especially the placement and angle of your TV have a big effect on your posture.
Don’t place your TV in the corner of the room or on a small dresser. Instead, put it on a tall dresser at the foot of the bed or mount it to the ceiling with hanging brackets.
If that is not possible, consider these solutions:
- Support pillows
These stiff yet flexible pillows are designed to be bent and sustain any position to support your neck and back as you lie down.
- Prop chairs
This item looks like the top of a recliner without the seat. It is set up on the bed to allow you to sit upright.
Sometimes they even have armrests and cup holders too.
- Angled glasses
These specially designed glasses use mirrors to allow you to watch television while lying down.
I have to admit these glasses are pretty weird, but they actually work well by preventing you from straining your neck and allows you to be completely flat on the bed.
- Adjustable beds
Nowadays, many beds on the market use similar technology to hospital beds. These beds can rise and fall with a remote control.
Instead of adjusting to your bed, you can get a bed that adjusts to you!
- Built-in TVs
These are often featured in the homes of the rich and famous.
It’s possible to install a pop-up TV that rises out of the foot of the bed and can be concealed when not in use at the touch of a button.
If you have a flat panel and storage space, this could be an aesthetic solution as well as an ergonomic one.
Read more about bedroom tv-design here.
The Watching TV In Bed Bottom Line
Watching television in bed on the weekends can be very comforting especially if you have had a tough work week.
But you should also be able to enjoy that favorite tv-show without hurting your body and waking up with soreness and pain the next day.
Try to avoid lying down or being in the same position for too long at a time. Use pillows thoughtfully to make a better posture more comfortable and consider the position of your television.