man sleeping on bed

A good night’s sleep is so critical to maintaining physical energy and clarity of thought that doctors recommend 7-9 hours of sleep for adults. Sleep affects reaction times, decision making, and emotional state. But, when you suffer from back pain, restful sleep can seem like a challenge. The worst sleeping positions for those who suffer from back pain are ones that put stress on the neck, back, or hips. The best way to sleep will support the natural curve of the spine and place the head and neck in proper alignment.

The Best Sleeping Positions to Reduce Back Pain 

Flat on Your Back

When the spine is not twisted or bent out of alignment, back pain is naturally reduced. Sleeping on your back is actually one of the best sleeping positions for back pain as it allows your body to follow a natural curve and reduces stress on the spine. Use a small pillow to form a gentle curve on the neck, and one under the knees to minimize pressure points.

 On Your Side

Sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees that are slightly bent will allow the body to rest in its most natural position for the spine. Yet, if done incorrectly, it can pull the spine out of position. A firm pillow between the knees and an equal thickness pillow under the head and neck will align your pelvis, neck, and back. If your mattress is very soft, it may be necessary to add extra pillows at any gaps between your body and the mattress.

Fetal Position

This position is recommended for those with a herniated disc or pain associated with pinched nerves of the spine. Lying on your side with knees curled towards the chest is one of the best ways to sleep to relieve the pressure and pinching pain that is caused by compressed vertebrae or damaged spinal cord nerves. But the fetal position does put the spine out of alignment, therefore use trial and error to determine if this position alleviates your back pain.

The Worst Sleeping Positions

If you suffer from chronic back pain and have trouble falling or staying asleep, it is possible you are sleeping in a position that aggravates your particular medical condition – which may be the case if you are sleeping in one of the following positions:

Sleeping Positions for Back Pain

  • Sleeping on your stomach can cause lower back pain because when you position your head sideways while lying on your stomach, your cervical spine is out of alignment. This puts pressure on your spinal cord and can cause tingling, numbness, or pain in the lower back.
  • Awkward leg positions such as one leg higher than the other or one leg flopped off the side of the mattress can create twisting of the spine, and/or hip joint and pelvis misalignment. These positions can also strain muscles and ligaments that can trigger back pain.

3 Tips for Sleeping Well 

  1. When you awake, you can exacerbate problems with the back and hip, along with the muscles and joints connected to them. If you have back pain, when you rise in the morning raise your body slowly from the bed and avoid any jerking motions or awkward twisting. It’s best to roll on your side first, bend your knees, then gently swing legs to the floor while using your hands for support.
  2. Your chiropractor is the best source of information concerning the type and firmness of mattress that is best for your back pain – not the store salesperson! Usually a soft mattress is not recommended because it will allow the back to curve out of alignment – no matter which position you sleep in. The combination of a good mattress and the right sleeping position can do wonders for back pain.
  3. Don’t neglect a good pillow and the angle of your head/neck while sleeping. You may need to test a few pillows to find the best ways to sleep with the appropriate firmness, but sleeping with just one pillow or no pillow at all may be the answer to spinal cord alignment issues.

Discuss your sleeping and back pain problems with a professional at 100% Chiropractic for more advice on the best ways to sleep while dealing with back pain. Our services not only include corrective care for the back and other joint and muscle issues, but we also have trained massage therapists, family wellness, prenatal and pediatric care as well. We have multiple locations throughout the US, so schedule an appointment with us today to get back to 100% wellness!

You may also like