Don't let back pain affect your sleep - find out how your postion and mattress choice may help you get a better sleep.
Back pain can keep you up at night, it prevents you from enjoying a good night sleep and saps your day’s energy. So let’s find out what causes back pain and how our sleep position can help it.
What Causes Back Pain?
The Global Burden of Disease study named lower back pain the leading cause of disability across the globe. It’s 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 night’s rest.
1. Sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees
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 there’s 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 causes issues like muscle imbalance and even scoliosis.
How does this position help? Sleeping on your side alone won’t make you feel better. It’s using the pillow between your knees that’s the trick. The pillow will keep your hips, pelvis, and spine in better alignment.
2. Sleep on your side in the fetal position
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.
- Tuck your knees toward your chest and gently curl your torso toward your knees.
- Remember to switch sides from time to time to prevent any imbalances.
How does this position help? Your discs are soft cushions between the vertebrae in your spine. Herniation happens when part of a disc pushes out of its normal space, causing nerve pain, weakness, and more. Curling your torso into a fetal position opens the space between vertebrae.
3. Sleep on your stomach with a pillow under your abdomen
You may have heard that sleeping on your stomach is actually bad for back pain. This is partly true because it may add stress to your neck. But if you find yourself resting on your stomach, you don’t have to force another position. Instead:
- Place a pillow under your pelvis and lower abdomen to relieve some of the pressure off your back.
- Depending on how this position feels, you may or may not choose to use a pillow under your head.
How does this position help? People who have degenerative disc disease may benefit most from stomach sleeping with a pillow. It can relieve any stress that is placed on the space between your discs.
4. Sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees
For some people, sleeping on their back may be the best position to relieve back pain:
- Lay flat on your back.
- Place a pillow underneath your knees and keep your spine neutral. The pillow is important — it works to keep that curve in your lower back.
- You may also place a small, rolled up towel under the small of your back for added support.
How does this position help? When you sleep on your back, your weight is evenly distributed and spread across the widest area of your body. As a result, you place less strain on your pressure points. You’re also able to get better alignment of your spine and your internal organs. Here are some of our best pillows to help you get comfortable.
5. Sleep on your back in a reclined position
Do you feel most comfortable snoozing in a recliner? Although sleeping in a chair may not be the best choice for back pain, this position can be beneficial if you have isthmic spondylolisthesis.
How does this position help? Isthmic spondylolisthesis is a condition where a vertebra slips over the one below it. Reclining may be beneficial for your back because it creates an angle between your thighs and trunk. This angle helps to reduce the pressure on your spine.
No matter what position you choose, keeping proper alignment of your spine is the most important part of the equation. Focus specifically on aligning your ears, shoulders, and hips.
You may notice gaps between your body and the bed that strain your muscles and spine. You can reduce this stress by using pillows to fill the gaps.
All of these positions can help you sleep better, but it is important to consider the type of mattress you are sleeping on and the pillows too, find out more here. Look at some of our best options for levels of comfort to support your back during the night: