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What’s The Best Sleeping Position For Lower Back Pain

Best Sleeping Positions For Low Back Pain

The best sleeping position for back pain, neck pain, and sciatica – Tips from a physical therapist

Are you waking up tired, unable to get a solid night of sleep due to irritating pain in your lower back? While chiropractic treatment could help alleviate your pain, switching up your sleeping position may also make a big difference.

So why do certain sleeping positions work better than others for back pain? Well, these sleeping setups are recommended by chiropractors because they offer more support for your muscles and joints and take the stress off your lower back, giving it time to rest and hopefully recover.

If youre ready to start sleeping better, try these top sleeping positions to combat low back pain:

  • Laying on your side with a pillow between the legs, or even a full-length body pillow
  • Resting on your back and tucking a pillow beneath your knees
  • Sleeping on your stomach with pillow support under the abdomen and pelvis

In addition to pillows, its important to have a comfortable mattress that supports your spine and creates a warm and welcoming sleeping environment. Your chiropractor can offer more suggestions on what changes you may need to make to improve your low back pain and your sleep.

What Pillows Do You Need

We have mentioned the pillow many times. They play a vital role in supporting your spine while sleeping.

The pillow will cushion the top part of your spine by cradling your neck and head.

Do not, under any circumstances, position your pillow behind your shoulders.

The pillow you need depends on your sleeping habits.

When To Sleep On Your Side

Two types of people particularly benefit from sleeping on their sides. According to Alon Avidan, MD, MPH, the head of UCLA’s Sleep Disorder Center, people with obstructive sleep apnea should sleep on their sides to keep their airways open. Essentially, back-sleeping creates a gravitational pull on the tongue, which can block the airway. “When you’re on your side, you partially remove that obstruction,” Dr. Avidan tells Health. People who persistently snore but don’t have sleep apnea might also find they sleep better on their sides.

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Dr. So also encourages pregnant people, especially those in their second or third trimesters, to sleep on their sidesspecifically, the left side, which she says can improve circulation to the placenta. Sleeping on the back can compress veins and blood vessels within the belly and can disrupt blood flow, so it’s best to avoid back-sleeping while pregnant.

If you sleep on your side, try to avoid the fetal position. “You’re essentially curling your back up and pulling everything in, which can cause pressure in your back and restrict your breathing,” says Memmini.

Vishesh K. Kapur, MD, MPH, director of Sleep Medicine at UW Medicine and a professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine with the University of Washington School of Medicine, adds that it’s important to choose a thicker pillow to support your head so it doesn’t drop down when you lie on your side.

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What Is The Best Sleeping Position

The best sleep position is one that promotes healthy spinal alignment from your hips all the way to your head. What that looks like for you depends on your personal health situation and what you find comfortable.

Having said that, there are some positions that are considered healthier than others. Specifically, sleeping on the side or back is considered more beneficial than sleeping on the stomach. In either of these sleep positions, its easier to keep your spine supported and balanced, which relieves pressure on the spinal tissues and enables your muscles to relax and recover.

However, if sleeping on your stomach feels good to you, dont feel forced to change it. You can minimize your risk of pain and improve spinal alignment with the right mattress and pillow.

Different sleep positions provide different benefits that may be helpful for you if youre dealing with back pain, pregnancy, allergies, acid reflux, or another health condition. In these cases, it may be worth trying a new sleep position to enable more restful sleep. In one study, a group of adults with back pain were trained to sleep on their back or their side. They experienced significant pain relief in just four weeks.

Adjusting to a new sleep position takes time, but it is possible. Be patient with yourself and use pillows to help train your body to the new position.

Dont Sleep On Your Stomach

How should i sleep with lower back pain

Sleeping on the stomach is really the worst sleep position because it puts too much strain on the muscles of your back.

However, if you must sleep in that position, you can support the position more by sleeping with a pillow beneath your pelvis and lower abdomen. And always make sure the pillow is underneath your head and neck, never under your shoulders.

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Why Is Back Pain At Night A Red Flag

Night back pain is almost always a sign of something more serious going on with your spine.

If you have back pain every night and are not sure why, I highly recommend seeing a doctor.

It could be something that requires surgery or another treatment to correct the issue but could also be something minor that can be easily corrected.

The gist is you wouldnt know without consultation with the appropriate healthcare provider.

Sleeping In The Fetal Position

People with a herniated disc may get relief by adopting the curled-up fetal position. Lying with the knees tucked into the chest helps to bend the spine and opens up the joints.

For adopting this sleeping posture you should:

  • Get into bed and roll on to one side.
  • Position the pillow for properly supporting the neck and head
  • Pull the knees up to your chest until the back gets stretched out and straight.

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What Happens When Hip Pain Disrupts Your Sleep

Hip soreness that flares up at night can make it hard to fall asleep or cause you to wake up throughout the night. That can put a major dent in your snooze time. One Arthritis Care Research study found that women with hip osteoarthritis spend about 90 minutes tossing and turning each night. Thats a lot of lost sleep.

Aside from leaving you drowsy the next day, sleep deprivation can actually amplify pain sensations and potentially leave you more uncomfortable. Findings show that the heightened pain can make it tougher to fall asleep the next night, so before long, you might find yourself in a never-ending cycle of less sleep-more pain-less sleep-more pain.

Sleeping In The Fetal Position On Your Side

Best Sleeping Positions for Lower Back Pain Recovery

You may want to consider sleeping on the side in a fetal position if you suffer from a herniated disc:

  • Lie on your back and then gently roll over to your side.

  • Tuck your knees in the direction of your chest and curve your body softly toward your knees.

  • To avoid any imbalances, remember to switch sides from time to time.

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Elevating The Knees While Sleeping On The Back

Lying on the back is the best sleeping posture advised by doctors as it helps in evenly distributing the entire weight of the body. it also ensures proper alignment of the neck, spine, and head, thereby minimizing the pressure points.

If you are a back sleeper, place a pillow beneath the knees to raise it slightly. This will help to maintain the natural curve of the spine and reduce stress on your lower back. Alongside, use a head pillow for proper neck and head support and maintain the alignment of the spine.

To properly follow this sleeping position you must:

  • Lie flat on your bed facing the ceiling without turning the head sideways.
  • Position the pillow to properly support the neck and head.
  • Place a small pillow under your knees for properly elevating them.
  • For filling up any other gap between the mattress and the body place more pillows, especially at the lower back.

The Ideal Sleep Position: On Your Back

The best position to avoid back pain is lying flat on your back. Even so, many people find it the hardest way to enjoy deep sleep. For optimal spine alignment, place one pillow underneath your head or neck and another underneath your knees. If youre pregnant, however, you should avoid this position because it decreases blood circulation to the heart and baby.

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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.

    Sleep Position To Cause Back Pain

    The Best Sleeping Position For Back Pain?

    When we’re lying-in bed, we don’t really worry about our spines. But our posture for sleep will help decide whether we feel back pain or not. What’s even more surprising is that most back pain, including cancer or arthritis, isn’t caused by severe medical conditions. Instead, discomfort or pressure from poor posture, uncomfortable sleeping positions, and other lifestyle behaviors also cause it like most of the back doctors say. See what a back specialist recommends for better back health.

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    How To Fall Asleep When Your Back Hurts

    Here are a few more extremely helpful ways to avoid lower back pain when sleeping :

    1. An Infrared Heating Pad

    One of the best ways to fall asleep fast and without pain is to place an infrared heating pad under your lower back, with a timer set for 30 45 minutes.

    The infrared heating pad is a science-backed and drug-free pain relieving tool, that I wish everyone had in their home.

    Infrared heat, invisible red light, penetrates deep into your skin, all the way to your muscles, nerves, and bones without feeling too hot in the process.

    It boosts your blood circulation in your back, bringing pain-relieving and healing agents to the area and quickly relieves back pain for up to 6 hours .

    Rolling your back on a trigger point foam rollerfor a few minutes before bed, or using an electric percussion back massager can be a huge help and a wonderful preventative for lower back pain.

    Plus, it speeds up healing from muscle and nerve injuries, through boosting blood circulation.

    3. Low Back Home Traction

    Back traction is considered one of the best natural treatments for back pain, especially if nerves and discs are involved.

    Home spinal decompression is easy and relatively low-cost while providing almost instant relief for lumbar pain.

    See my post about how to do low back traction at home and possibly curing your back pain for good.

    4. Lifestyle Changes

    To fall asleep fast and pain-free, follow these simple guidelines before you go to sleep:

    Other Sleeping Positions To Try

    7. Wrap Towel or Sheet Around Your Waist

  • Roll the towel or sheet into a tube.
  • Wrap the tube around your waist once you are sitting in bed.
  • Lie down on your side with a pillow under your head for support.
  • If you like to sleep on both your side and your back or tend to move around a lot at night then this might be the best solution for you. The sheet or towel will fill in the gap under your back if you are sleeping on your back or will fill the gap under your side if you are sleeping on your slide.

    8. On your stomach with a pillow under your stomach and hips

  • While laying on your stomach, place a pillow under your stomach and hips to elevate your lower trunk and keep the natural curve of your back
  • If your neck is uncomfortable try removing the pillow from under your head.
  • Sleeping on your stomach may feel comfortable but it can be particularly harmful to your lower back and neck. However, with the right support you can keep your spine in alignment while sleeping on your stomach.

    9. On the floor

  • Move your mattress onto the floor.
  • Lay in your desired position with any added support or pillows.
  • For some people sleeping on an extra hard surface helps to reduce lower back pain. If you arent ready to purchase a new type of mattress try putting your existing mattress on the ground or place a sheet of wood between the mattress and box spring for a stiff support.

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    What Type Of Mattress Is Best

    Appropriately, a bedtime story offers the best game plan for selecting a mattress. Basically, take the Goldilocks approach: Not too soft and not too hard, but just right. Thats typically a mattress that carries a medium-firm designation.

    Starting on the firmer side of things allows you to make adjustments as needed, says Dr. Bang. You can add softness to a mattress by using a foam topper.

    One word of caution, though: Manufacturers use their own methods to rate and describe firmness, as theres no set standard for the industry. That means a medium-firm from one company might feel vastly different from a medium-firm from another.

    So when youre buying a mattress, take the time to test it out in a showroom to see if it feels right, says Dr. Bang.

    Best Positions For Back Pain

    Best Sleeping Position for Lower Back Pain- How to Sleep Safe with Back Pain.

    Good posture isnt just important when youre standing or sitting, says Dr. Bang. Its also key when youre lying down.

    Aligning your head, shoulders and hips puts your body in a neutral posture that eases stress. Your goal should be to find a position that maintains and supports the natural curves in your back and neck.

    Heres how.

    Sleeping on your side

    The side sleeping position is the most popular and its loaded with opportunities to get your body out of line. Dr. Bang offers these tips to get it right.

    • Switching sides can help reduce the chance of imbalances developing.

    Sleeping on your back

    If you sleep on your back, consider slipping a small pillow under your knees, says Dr. Bang. This little lift works well with your spines natural curve and helps take some pressure off of your back.

    For your pillow, look for a height that keeps your head in a neutral position to reduce strain on your neck. A pillow thats too low will send your jaw pointing toward the ceiling too high, and your jaw aims toward your chest.

    Avoid sleeping on your stomach

    Lying face down on your bed can put you in an awkward position for long periods of time, putting pressure on your neck and lower back. If people come in with pain and they know its related to sleep, its usually stomach sleeping thats the culprit, says Dr. Bang.

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    Find The Right Position

    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.

    Keeping The Hips Stacked While Sleeping On The Sides

    Lying on the side is the most common sleeping position but it can often pull the spine out of its position causing strain on the lower back. For side sleepers, placing a flat, firm pillow between the knees can prove to be effective. The pillow will help to align the hips with your lower spine and prevent the leg on the top to exert pressure on your pelvis or lower back. The support also helps in creating room for the spinal nerves and relieves stress from the lower spine. Also, make sure to use a head pillow to align your head with the shoulders.

    To adopt this side sleeping position:

    • After lying on your bed, slowly roll on to your preferred side.
    • Place a pillow to support the neck and head.
    • Slightly pull up the knees and place a pillow between them.
    • For added support, you can place more pillows at the waist to fill any gap between the mattress and the body.

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    Sleep With Sciatica And Herniated Disc: Is Sleeping On A Wood Board An Option

    There are some benefits to sleeping on a hard surface and it doesnt have to be uncomfortable.I do that sometimes. I use a thin wood board that I put under my rib cage / upper back area and it kind of works. You may want to try this if you suffer from degenerative disc disease.

    But it has to be a flexible & very thin wooden board and the right thing with MDF wood is that it offers support, but it doesnt hurt.Every other wood type Ive tried is like sleeping on the floor: just impossible.I like the feeling of a hard surface under my shoulders & shoulder blades when Im in bed.

    By the way, this thiny wooden board is also a life saver to avoid back pain when driving.


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