The Best Sleep Positions for Back Pain

If you suffer from back pain, it can be hard to sleep at night. You stay up for hours, tossing and turning, trying to find a comfortable position. For sleepers who are tired of feeling exhausted all the time and experiencing extreme back pain, there is good news.

Changing your sleep position may provide relief in the night for your back pain. Adjusting how you sleep can help better align your spine and take the pressure off of your back when you sleep. If you can’t find relief from an alternate sleeping position, your mattress or pillow may be the problem. Keep reading to learn about the best sleep positions for back pain.

Lay on Your Back

Sleeping on your back is considered the healthiest sleeping position. This position aligns your spine to prevent extra pressure during the night. Your head and neck are in a natural position, and your weight is evenly distributed.

If you already sleep in this position and still experience back pain, consider modifying it slightly. Support your knees with a small pillow. The slight elevation under your knees can help align your spine to its natural curve.

You can also add a small pillow to any places along your spine where there is a gap between your body and your mattress, such as your lower back. Test out different pillows and positions to find your best night’s sleep.

Sleep on Your Side

If you are part of the 15% of adults who prefer to sleep on your side, you likely experience some benefits in this position. Sleeping on your side can help decrease acid reflux in the night and prevent snoring. On your side, your spine is better elongated, which can prevent back and neck pain.

However, this position can also strain your lower back. To prevent this from happening, try using a firm pillow placed between your knees. This simple solution can align your spine, hips, and pelvis by raising your upper leg. You can also try to hug a pillow while sleeping to align your spine.

Fetal Position

The fetal position is one of the most popular sleeping positions with 41% of adults choosing it each night. This position is preferred by pregnant women to support their circulation. Those who snore frequently can also find some relief by sleeping in the fetal position.

This sleeping position is not recommended for people with arthritis because it can cause soreness in your joints and back. To modify this position, try pulling your knees up instead of curving your chin down. A small pillow between your knees can also reduce the strain on your hips and spine.

Sleep on Your Stomach

The stomach sleeping position is considered one of the worst options unless you are a chronic snorer. This position can cause tremendous back and neck pain because your spine is never neutral. You place unnecessary strain on your joints which can cause numbness and tingling throughout the night, keeping you awake.

For stomach sleepers, try another position. If you are unable to sleep any other way, prop your forehead on a pillow to avoid twisting the spine. You can also try placing a small pillow under your abs to raise your mid-section for better alignment.

Reclined Position

If you suffer from chronic lower back pain, your doctor may recommend sleeping in a reclined position. This can alleviate pressure on your spine and help you sleep better through the night. Before you purchase an adjustable bed that reclines, try this position in a reclining chair. If you experience relief for a while, you may need to change your bed.

What Causes Back Pain During Sleep?

When changing your sleeping position does not work to reduce your back pain, it is time to look elsewhere. Your mattress could actually be the source of your back pain, making it time to purchase a new mattress. Memory foam mattresses are considered the best for relieving back pain because they cradle your body and keep your spine in alignment.

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You may also be in need of a new pillow. An old pillow can flatten out over time and change the alignment of your spine. Look for a pillow designed to match your sleep position. There are various levels of firmness and different shapes to meet your unique sleeping needs.

If all else fails, it may be time to talk to your doctor. Back pain can greatly affect your quality of sleep and cause other health issues along the way. If changing your sleeping position, buying a new mattress, or trying a new pillow do not work, you can seek relief from your trusted primary care physician.