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How To Sleep When Having Lower Back Pain

What Can I Do

How to Sleep with Lower Back Pain

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.
  • When Should You See A Doctor About Lower Back Pain

    Back pain is common and often recedes quickly, but its important to talk with a doctor if:

    • The pain began with a specific injury
    • Pain continues or worsens for more than a few days
    • Pain is debilitating
    • Pain radiates to the legs or other parts of the body
    • You experience weakness or numbness in your lower body
    • There are signs of infection like redness, warmth, swelling, or fever
    • You have a personal history of cancer
    • You have other unexplained health changes like weight loss or urinary problems

    A doctor can review your symptoms and determine the appropriate next steps for testing, diagnosis, and treatment.

    • Was this article helpful?

    Choose A Mattress Of Medium Firmness

    Even if you do pick the right position to sleep in, you could still end up with a back problem if youre sleeping on a poorly padded mattress that doesnt offer support.

    When it comes to tackling or preventing back pain associated with sleep posture, theres no avoiding the question of mattresses. The right or wrong mattress can ease your problem or make it worse. The American Chiropractic Association suggests a mattress of medium firmness that can keep the curving of your spine minimal. This in turn will reduce stress and strain on specific sections of the spine and help you sidestep back pain.5

    As many as 63 percent of those with a back problem say that they felt an improvement in their back pain symptoms after they traded in their old mattress for a new one. A cheaper alternative is to add plywood below to firm up an old mattress that isnt giving your back the support it needs.6

    Recommended Reading: Can Dehydration Cause Lower Back Pain

    Why Does Sciatica Hurt More At Night

    Numerous factors can make sciatica worse when lying down.

    Because the lower back curves inwards more than usual, there might be extra pressure on the lower back.

    Additionally, lying down can pinch the sciatic nerve, causing back pain to spread from the lower back to the thighs.

    During the day, your body gets used to certain back positions. Therefore back pain becomes more pronounced at night when you lie down.

    As a result, it is essential to use pillows to provide additional back support and knee and leg support.

    How To Sleep Better With Lower Back Pain

    The Best Sleeping Position For Back Pain?

    Getting quality sleep is an important part of recovering from lower back pain, but sleeping well may seem like a tall task when your back hurts. While theres no guaranteed way to get better sleep, certain practical tips can help:

    • Find a supportive sleeping position. Ideally, you can sleep on your side, but regardless of the position, make sure your spine is well-aligned. If needed, use extra pillows for body support.
    • Be careful with alcohol and caffeine. Though alcohol may help you doze off, it can throw off the quality of your sleep. As a stimulant, caffeine can make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.
    • Try relaxation methods. Finding techniques to wind down can put you in the right state of mind for sleep with less focus on pain.
    • Reduce potential sleep disruptions. If you inadvertently wake up at night, pain may make it harder to get back to sleep. For that reason, try to eliminate excess noise and light from your bedroom or block them out with a sleep mask or earplugs. Set your bedroom to a temperature that will be comfortable throughout the night.

    Focusing on sleep hygiene can improve your sleep habits so that you can sleep better both during and after episodes of lower back pain.

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    The Best Sleeping Positions

    Not only can lower back pain get in the way of a good nights rest, but poor sleeping posture may make the existing pain worse.

    A poor sleeping position may even be the underlying cause of lower back pain. This is because certain positions can place unnecessary pressure on the neck, hips, and back.

    It is important to maintain the natural curve of the spine when lying in bed. A person can do this by ensuring the head, shoulders, and hips are in alignment, and that the back is properly supported. The best way to do this is usually by sleeping on the back.

    However, many people are uncomfortable sleeping on their back or find it causes them to snore. Everyone sleeps differently, so there is a variety of options for people who want to sleep better and reduce their back pain.

    For people experiencing lower back pain at night, trying out the following postures and tips may provide relief.

    Loss Of Bladder Control

    If you also experience bowel or urinary incontinence, in which you lose control of your bladder and bowels, you should seek medical attention at the emergency room as soon as possible for treatment.

    These symptoms characterize Cauda equine syndrome. Serious compression of the nerve sac in the lower back creates this syndrome.

    Read Also: Can Urgent Care Help With Back Pain

    Intolerable Pain On Both Legs

    A sharp pain traveling down your leg or down both your legs is the most commonly reported symptom of back pain, and it may indicate more serious complications. Usually, this complication results from a sciatic nerve injury in the lower back.

    Bilateral sciatica occurs when the pain affects both legs at the same time. The condition may result in bladder and bowel dysfunctions.

    Its also possible to notice a malfunction or altered sensation in your genital area, which is indicative of cauda equina syndrome.

    Sudden Pain In The Lower Back

    Best Sleeping Positions for Lower Back Pain Recovery

    The harmless back pains that result from intensive physical activity typically disappear after a day of good rest.

    You must contact the nearest emergency department if you have experienced sudden, extremely severe back pain without engaging in any physical activity. The pain in your back might indicate you have a problem with your back muscles or even your spinal cord.

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    The Worst Sleep Position: On Your Stomach

    Sleeping on your stomach is the worst position for your spine, according to Raymond J. Hah, MD, a spine surgeon at Keck Medicine of USC and assistant professor of clinical orthopaedic surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. This position puts the most pressure on your spines muscles and joints because it flattens the natural curve of your spine, he says. Sleeping on your stomach also forces you to turn your neck, which can cause neck and upper back pain.

    Research shows that theres a correlation between pain and sleep, so it makes sense to incorporate simple changes in your sleep style that alleviate back pain and less pain means better sleep.

    Do you have back pain? The experts at the USC Spine Center can help. Schedule an appointment or call USC-CARE .

    Do You Have Neck Or Back Pain Your Sleep Style May Be Contributing

    If youve ever woken up with a tingling arm or achy neck, youve experienced the negative effects of sleeping in the wrong position.

    The key is alignment: When you sleep with your spine in a neutral position, it reduces the strain on your back and neck. It also helps to sleep on a firm surface.

    So which sleep positions should you embrace and which should you avoid? Heres a rundown, from best to worst.

    Also Check: What Causes Lower Back Pain On Your Left Side

    Stomach Sleeping With Hip Support

    Stomach sleeping is hard on the back and not recommended for people who suffer from lower back pain. However, if you struggle to sleep on your back or side, start by placing a pillow under your hips. The extra cushion prevents your back from curving unnaturally and reduces the pressure on your lumbar spine. Also, use a thin pillow under your head or no pillow at all so your head doesnt curve backward and result in further pain.

    Side Sleeping In The Fetal Position

    Best Sleeping Position For Back Pain. 10 Best Recliner for ...

    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.

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    Which Positions Work Best

    It is important to keep in mind that if your back pain continues for more than a few months, you should see a doctor to diagnose what is causing the back pain. However, there are ways to position your body at night that can help reduce or even eliminate the pain.

    You may have discovered by trial and error that when you have your upper legs drawn upwards towards your body while lying down, your back is more comfortable. This position reduces the amount of strain on your lumbar region, the area on your back below your ribs that is what we refer to as the lower back. As a result, sleeping positions that allow you to keep your legs tucked in this way have been shown to reduce lower back pain.2

    In practice, this means there are basically two options. One is to sleep on your side with your knees up in front of you. The other is to sleep on your back with your legs supported by a pillow, so that your hips are rotated forward just like you were on your side.

    Sleeping face down, or prone, does not provide a way for you to tuck your legs and rotate your hips, and as a result is not good for lower back pain. But if you must sleep on your stomach, the best way to do this is to place a pillow under your hips and try sleeping without a pillow under your head.

    On The Side With A Pillow Between The Knees

    Lying on the side can be comfortable, but it can pull the spine out of alignment, straining the lower back.

    It can be easy to correct this issue by placing a firm pillow between the knees. This raises the upper leg, restoring the natural alignment of the hips, pelvis, and spine.

    To get comfortable in this position:

  • Get into bed and carefully roll to one side.
  • Use one pillow to support the head and neck.
  • Pull the knees up slightly, and place another pillow between them.
  • For extra support, fill any gaps between the body and mattress with more pillows, especially at the waist.
  • Anyone who usually moves from their side to their front may also want to try hugging a large pillow against their chest and stomach to help keep their back aligned.

    Recommended Reading: Why Do I Have Sudden Lower Back Pain

    When To See A Physician

    Many back soreness progressively boosts with residence treatment as well as self-care, normally within a few weeks. Contact your medical professional if your pain in the back:.

    Proceeds past a couple of weeks.

    Is extreme in addition to does not improve with remainder.

    Spreads down one or both legs, specifically if the pain expands listed below the knee.

    Reasons weakness, tingling or prickling in one or both legs.

    Is accompanied by inexplicable fat burning.

    In unusual situations, pain in the back can suggest major professional problem. Look for prompt therapy if your pain in the back.

    Reasons brand-new digestive tract or bladder issues.

    Is accompanied by a high temperature.

    Find The Right Position

    How-Should you sleep if you have lower Back Pain II lower Back Pain

    Certain sleeping positions can help ease your back pain, so find one that is most comfortable for you. Try sleeping with a pillow between or underneath your legs for extra support.

    If you sleep on your side, put the pillow between your knees and draw them up slightly toward your chest. If you like to sleep on your back, try the pillow under your knees, or roll up a small towel and place it under the small of your back.

    Avoid sleeping on your stomach because it puts a lot of strain on your back. If itâs the only position you can fall asleep in, put a pillow under your stomach to take some of the pressure off your back. Or, to break the habit, wear a sleep shirt with a pocket in front and put a tennis ball in it.

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    Sleep On Your Side To Relieve Pain From A Pulled Back Muscle

    One of the most common causes of lower back pain is a pulled back muscle, which occurs when a muscle in your lower back is strained or torn as a result of being over-stretched. Symptoms from a pulled back muscle typically resolve within a few days, but the intense pain can make it difficult to fall asleep at night. Worse yet, the longer you lie in the bed, the more deconditioned your body gets and the worse your symptoms may become.

    See Causes of Lower Back Pain

    No single sleeping position works for every person with a pulled back muscle, but a good place to start is to test sleeping on your side. When sleeping on your side, try the following:

    • Avoid a tight curled-up fetal position , and instead sleep with your body slightly elongated.
    • Slip a slim pillow between your knees to support the natural curvature of your spine.

      See Mattresses and Sleep Positions for Each Back Pain Diagnosis

    • Find a head pillow that holds your head midway between each shoulder. If your pillow is too thin or too thick it can bend your neck at an uncomfortable angle.

    You may also benefit from wearing a disposable heat wrap to bed to help alleviate the pain from a pulled back muscle. These wraps deliver muscle-relaxing, low-level heat over the course of several hoursand so they may help you both fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

    For How Long Does Lower Pain In The Back Typically Last

    Lower back pain can be categorized as extreme, subacute or relentless. Severe episodes of lower pain in the back usually last from a couple of days to 4 weeks and also subacute lower neck and back pain lasts in between 4 to 12 weeks.

    According to the National Institutes of Wellness, concerning 20 percent of individuals with extreme back distress take location to establish chronic back pain defined as discomfort that lasts 12 weeks or longer.

    Also in these instances, there are numerous treatment choices to assist get rid of lower back discomfort signs.

    When your back is absolutely removing you, you might worry something is seriously incorrect. The similar chooses neck and back pain that appears never-ending.

    The silver lining is that while neck and back pain is a major aggravation, it is seldom an immediate clinical issue. In fact, the majority of the moment you do not need to treat it.

    Neck and back pain normally handles by itself unless you have a substantial underlying trouble. Lower Back Distress Can not Bend Down.

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    Best Sleeping Positions For Lower Back Pain

    Dr. Nayantara Santhi

    Dr. Nayantara Santhi holds an academic position at Northumbria University. After completing her Ph.D. at Northeastern University , she joined the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School as a post-doctoral fellow to research how sleep and circadian rhythmicity influence our cognitive functioning.

    By McKenzie HydeCertified Sleep Coach

    Lower back pain and poor sleep have a two-way relationship, meaning one intensifies the other. Back pain makes it difficult to get comfortable in bed, resulting in poor sleep and

    Lower back pain and poor sleep have a two-way relationship, meaning one intensifies the other. Back pain makes it difficult to get comfortable in bed, resulting in poor sleep and reduced muscle recovery, and thereby causing more back pain.

    Lower back pain is commonly caused by health conditions such as arthritis or herniated discs, muscle strains due to bad posture, improper lifting, and a poor sleeping position. Lets take a closer look at the best sleeping positions for lower back pain.


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