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How To Fix Back Pain While Sleeping

The Four Best Sleeping Positions For Back Pain


The best sleep position is lying on your back. If you feel uncomfortable sleeping this way, youre not alone. Many people find that sleeping on their back causes them to snore, or they just cant feel comfy in that position.

Everyone sleeps in their own unique way. Here are a few sleeping positions you can try to help reduce your back pain and catch more zs.

Sleep On Your Stomach

This position is effective for stomach sleepers. But this sleeping position is not recommended for others because it may add stress on the neck. To relieve pressure off your back, place a pillow under your lower abdomen and pelvis. You may fall asleep with a pillow on your head or without. This position is highly recommended if the pain is caused by a degenerative disc disorder.

The Cause Of Back Pain While Sleeping

Your sleep-induced back pain is likely caused by a misalignment of your spine. Most of us dont have perfect posture and our activities throughout the day can begin to tighten muscles in our backs that result in pain while we sleep.

For example, sitting all day can cause the muscles in the hips to tighten, leading to an over-curvature of the spine around the lower back. Or slouching might cause the muscles in the shoulders to tighten, resulting in pain in the upper back.

Certain sleeping positions can exacerbate this tightness. The fetal position that many of us find most comfortable tends to introduce more curvature to the spine and too much straightness to the legs.

Sleeping on the back can cause the lower back to arch. Sleeping on the stomach can push the hips back, leading again to curvature of the lower back. All of this stress on the spine and surrounding muscles can lead to tightness and pain upon waking up or even during the night.

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Be Careful Getting In And Out Of Bed

Many back injuries are attributed to making awkward movements when doing routine things. One of the easier ways to prevent new injuries or exacerbating old ones is to be conscious of your movements. Here are a few pointers from WebMD experts on protecting your back when getting in and out of bed:

  • Dont twist your back or make rapid jerking motions.
  • Get in bed by sitting on the edge of the mattress. Supporting yourself with your hands, bend your knees, and lay on your side. Then adjust your position as needed.
  • Get out of bed by rolling on your side and bend in your knees. Supporting yourself with your hands, carefully swing your legs to the floor and stand up straight. Get up from the seated position.

Listen To Soothing Audio

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When your lights go out and your head hits the pillow, almost all of the stimuli that have held your attention during the day dissipate, and you tend to focus more on your back pain. As you pay more attention to your back pain, your anxiety can start to risewhich in turn often makes it harder to fall asleep.

The practice of listening to various forms of soothing audio can relieve both your anxiety and your experience of back pain by redirecting your focus away from your symptoms. Several nighttime audio options you can try include:

  • Classical music
  • Audio books intended for children
  • Relaxation podcasts

Regardless of what kind of audio you choose to play, make sure it is free of harsh sounds or intense plot lines.

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Find The Best Mattress For Lower Back Pain For You

If its in the cards financially for you to buy a better mattress, follow these suggestions:

  • The best mattress for lower back pain is the one that feels best for you people may debate over hard mattresses, soft mattresses, or the perfect sleep number, but the truth is that whatever feels good is the best option for you, as long as it encourages proper alignment
  • Make sure the mattress you select allows the spine to rest in its natural alignment, as if you were standing straight
  • Overall, most suggest a medium-firm mattress for reducing lower back pain but side sleepers tend to prefer softer mattresses and back sleepers tend to prefer firmer mattresses
  • Try different types of cushioning and support, from solid foam mattresses to memory foam to those that use steel coils

Try out several mattress options out at the store and see which one you like. Consider ones that you dont think youd like. Be adventurous. And dont be shy: take your shoes off and hop on for a few minutes while relaxing in your usual sleeping position. Considering most people sleep for one-third of their lives, investing in a good, comfortable mattress is critical to not only improving quality of sleep, but also helping to reduce back pain.

Could Upper Back Pain Mean Something More Serious

There is always a chance that your upper back pain could be caused by a much bigger problem. Degenerative Disc Disease , a herniated disc, and osteoarthritis are possible underlying problems causing your upper back pain. Shapiro cautions that while pain should never be ignored, normal muscle soreness from exercising is nothing to be concerned about. He warns, however, that you should question intense pain that doesnt go away over time. If you notice symptoms like fever, chills, tingling in your chest or stomach along with your upper back pain you should see your doctor.

Sharp, shooting, radiating, severe, unexplained acute pain or chronic pain lasting more than a few days could be your body’s way of telling you that something more serious is going on, Shapiro says.

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Herniated Or Bulging Disc

You have discs all along your spine in between each pair of vertebrae. Each disc is filled with a jelly-like substance that keeps your backbones from grinding against each other when you move.

A herniated disc occurs when one of the discs breaks open. A bulging disc is a similar condition, but instead of breaking open, the disc slips out of place and the inner substance bulges outwards but doesnt rupture. Both conditions may be asymptomatic, or they may cause symptoms like pain, numbness, and weakness.

Herniated and bulging discs affect both the surrounding vertebrae and, often, the nearby nerves. These injuries are most common in the lower back, but they can also occur in the middle and upper back and even in the neck.

How Do Sleeping Positions Affect Lower Back Pain

How to Fix Lower Back Pain While Sleeping (PILLOWS)

Another link between sleep and lower back pain is tied to how sleeping position affects spinal alignment. Although posture is typically associated with sitting and standing, its also critical when lying down.

A sleeping position that involves twisting, contorting, or otherwise putting pressure on the lumbar spine can cause pain and stiffness. This pain is often worse in the morning but may persist throughout the day.

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Take It Slow When Getting Up

Taking it slow when you get out of bed can be beneficial. You may want to use your arms to sit up slowly before moving your legs off the side of the bed. Once you plant your feet on the ground, shoulder-width apart, you can stand up slowly, using your leg strength instead of your back to help you up.

After carefully standing, you can further relieve tension by reaching your arms up above your head and stretching slowly from side to side.

Lower Back Pain Can Interfere With Your Ability To Be Productive During The Day However It Can Also Affect Your Ability To Sleep

19:24 18 November 2021

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Back pain and sleep are deeply intertwined with each other: pain can stop you from falling and staying asleep, while poor sleep can worsen your pain.

If left untreated, this is a vicious cycle that will ultimately destroy the health of your back. If your lower back pain is keeping you up at night, you should address it immediately. Putting it off until later can lead to more serious complications in the future.

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How To Ease Arthritis Discomfort At Night

Arthritis is a chronic condition that can cause back pain. It happens when the cartilage between bones breaks downs and joints grind against each other and become inflamed. Heres how to soothe arthritis at night, including finding the most comfortable sleep position and propping yourself up on pillows.

Choose Sleep Positions That Support Pain Relief

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How you sleep plays an important role in managing back pain, as certain positions place more strain on the back than others. Generally, back sleeping and supported side sleeping are regarded as most ergonomic, while stomach sleeping tends to be most associated with pain. Whichever position you prefer, here are tips for staying comfortable.

Side Sleepers

Side sleeping is the most common position, especially among women. While it can place some strain on the body, ensuring your hips and shoulders are supported can make it comfortable.

Ideally, side sleepers should bend both knees in slightly and place a small pillow between their legs to prevent hips from twisting and placing stress on the back. If your legs are too straight, this can exaggerate the curve of your lower back, but if your legs are drawn in too tightly, your back may round and both can cause pain. Getting the best mattress for side sleepers is also important to consider for comfort and support.

Your neck pillow should be the right height to keep your neck and spine straight and even, generally higher than pillows needed for back sleepers. Your chin shouldnt be drawn in to your chest or leaned too far back. Think natural standing position.

Conditions that may see more relief from proper side sleeping include osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis and foraminal herniated disc, as the position can reduce pressure on spinal joints.

Back Sleepers

Stomach Sleepers

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Do Morning Stretches In Bed

Simple stretching exercises can relieve back pain, and there are stretches you can do before you get out of bed.

For example, you can lie on your back and do a full-body stretch when you first wake up. For this exercise, stretch your arms and hands above your head as far as you can, with your legs and feet stretching in the opposite direction. Hold for a few seconds before releasing.

It may also help to stretch out your lower back. To do this, you can bring your knees into your chest and hold, wrapping your arms around them. Then gently rock from side to side.

How To Relieve Lower Back Pain While Sleeping

If you suffer from lower back pain, you may also have sleep problems. Sleeping in a wrong position can potentially make your back pain worse. Good thing that there are sleeping positions that are effective in relieving lower back pain while you are sleeping. The key to having a good nights sleep is proper alignment and position. Some people feel comfortable sleeping on their side, back or stomach. We will discuss sleeping positions you can try to achieve a pain-free, comfortable sleep:

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Side Sleeping In The Fetal Position

Rather than side sleeping straight, curling up with your knees reduces pressure on the spine. If you have a herniated or bulging disc, a condition where the rubbery tissue between the spinal vertebrae slips out of place, sleeping in the fetal position can relieve your symptoms. Curling up opens the space between your vertebrae, reducing the tension on your discs.

So Which Sleep Position Is The Best If You Get Back Pain When Sleeping

How to Fix Lower Back Pain from Sleeping Wrong

If youre having problems with your back or neck, I highly suggest sleeping on your back.

There are a number of reasons for this: first just from personal experience, sleeping on your back is generally the easiest way to aggravate the fewest number of things .

When you sleep on your side, you have to worry about your back alignment, neck alignment, your hips twisting, etc. When you sleep on your back there is less than can go wrong and fewer variables to experiment with to get comfortable.

Second, when you sleep on your back, you are naturally laying flat which is letting gravity re-align the body a bit. Its offsetting the fact that you might have just been sitting in a caveman computer pose for 10 hours .

Also, if you have neck pain, Ive found that back sleeping is also easier than side sleeping for some people. People with neck pain tend to have protruding necks . Usually when they go to sleep the neck continues protruding and stays in the poor alignment, reinforcing the pain.

It took me years of waking up to throbbing neck muscles and spasming trapezius muscles, with a crap night of sleep, to realize this.

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Where Does It Come From

Back pain, of course, originates in the back. There are a wide variety of potential causes from temporary muscle strain to spinal abnormalities. Medical News Today explains that causes of back pain can stem from different types of strain, structural problems, internal infections and cancer, as well as sleep and mattress issues. The more common causes of back pain are:

  • Strain: Strained muscles or ligaments due to improper or too heavy lifting, awkward movements
  • Skeletal problems: Ruptured or bulging discs, sciatica, scoliosis, arthritis, osteoporosis
  • Infections: of the spine, pelvis, or nerves
  • Sleep disorders: people with sleep disorders are more likely to have back pain
  • Bad mattress: poor support can cause or worsen pain
  • Lifestyle: poor posture, standing, hunching and bending for long periods and extended driving


Strain is the most common reason for back pain, affecting muscles and ligaments. Improperly lifting or pulling things and lifting or carrying heavy objects are common ways muscles become strained. Sudden movements, such as getting out of bed or cars awkwardly or falling, can trigger pain. Bending, standing, hunching over a desk or driving for extended periods of time also causes muscle tension and strain.

Structural Problems

Other Causes

Spine Experts Explain What Causes Back Pain When You Sleep And What You Can Do To Wake Up With A Healthy Spine

Back pain is one of the most common types of pain reported in the United States. Most people up to eight out of 10 will have at least one episode of back pain during their lives. While various factors contribute to back pain, how you sleep from your sleep position to the pillow or mattress you choose can be a cause.

Pain and sleep are interconnected. Back pain can make it harder to get a good nights sleep, while some research shows that insufficient sleep can exacerbate pain in addition to causing other health problems, from impaired focus to increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only made matters worse. Disrupted daily routines and anxiety about the pandemic have fueled insomnia, while working from home without proper office equipment has caused more people to experience back and neck aches and pains.

Health Matters spoke to Dr. Clark Smith, a neck and back pain medicine specialist with NewYork-Presbyterian Och Spine, and Dr. Kelly Grimes, a physical therapist with Columbia University Irving Medical Center, about what causes sleep-related back pain and what you can do to prevent it.

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Sleep On The Front With Your Head Down

If you sleep on the front with your head facing one side, you may twist your spine and put unnecessary stress on your back, neck, and shoulders. You can prevent this by simply lying with your face down. Its also a good idea to use a small pillow under your stomach and another one to lift up your forehead.

If youre unsure of which position is right for you, try several of them. Eventually, youll find one that brings you the most comfort and pain relief.

All information provided on this website is for information purposes only. Please see a healthcare professional for medical advice. If you are seeking this information in an emergency situation, please call 911 and seek emergency help.

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What Can I Do

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Do you deal with lower back pain? Youre not alone.

The Global Burden of Disease study named lower back pain the leading cause of disability across the globe.

Whats even more interesting is that most back pain isnt caused by serious medical conditions, like cancer or arthritis. Instead, its often brought on by stress or strain from bad posture, awkward sleeping positions, and other lifestyle habits.

Here are the best sleeping positions to try if you have lower back pain, as well as some other things you can do to get a better nights rest.

If lying flat on your back feels uncomfortable, try shifting over to your side:

  • Allow your right or left shoulder to make contact with the mattress, along with the rest of that side of your body.
  • Place a pillow between your knees.
  • If theres a gap between your waist and the mattress, consider using a small pillow there for added support.
  • Whether you use one pillow or opt for two, you should resist the urge to always sleep on the same side. Doing so many cause issues like muscle imbalance and even scoliosis.

    How does this position help? Sleeping on your side alone wont make you feel better. Its using the pillow between your knees thats the trick. The pillow will keep your hips, pelvis, and spine in better alignment.

    If you have a herniated disc, you may want to try sleeping on your side curled in a fetal position:

  • Lay on your back and then roll over gently onto your side.
  • Lay flat on your back.
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