Best Sleeping Positions for Back Pain

Getting a good night’s sleep helps your body recover from any discomfort. However, sleeping in odd positions can lead to back pain which contributes to disturbed sleep and limits recovery. To put an end to this vicious cycle, find a sleeping position that is comfortable and suitable for your body.

Understanding Sleeping Positions for Back Pain

Twisting your neck, sleeping on a soft mattress, and spending hours on your phone will only worsen your sleep hygiene. To prevent this, finding a sleeping position for upper back pain that prevents strain on your spine, neck, and the head is essential. Further, there are sleeping positions specifically recommended by doctors for pregnant individuals, elders, individuals with musculoskeletal disorders, etc.

As you practise this, you attain deep sleep. When your heart rate and blood pressure slow down, the brain releases hormones that repair blood vessels and regrow tissues, and the body produces more white blood cells, which boost the immune system.

5 Best Sleeping Positions for Back Pain

Sleep on Your Side in a Fetal Position

For individuals with a herniated disc, misalignment of the disc causes nerve pain, weakness, and more. These discs are soft cushions between the vertebrae in your spine. Hence curling your torso into a fetal position opens the space between the vertebrae, reduces tension, and prevents the spine from bending backward.

To sleep in this position, lay on your back and gently roll onto your side. Further, tuck your knees toward your chest and curl the torso toward the knee. As you rest, you can switch sides to prevent imbalance.

Sleep on Your Back in a Reclined Position

There may be better choices than sleeping in a chair for back pain. However, this position may have several benefits if you struggle with isthmic spondylolisthesis. In this condition, a minor fracture in a bone that connects two joints of the spinal segment can lead to lower back pain, weakness, knee pain, etc.

Reclining in a chair or an adjustable bed creates an angle between your thighs and trunk, which helps reduce pressure on your spine. While reclining, being mindful of your body’s alignment is key.

Sleep on Your Side with a Pillow Between Your Knees

Sleeping on one side can lead to muscle imbalance, scoliosis, etc. Hence as you rest on your side, it is essential to use one or two pillows between your knees. This helps keep your hips, pelvis, and spine aligned.

For this position, allow your right or left side of the body to maintain contact with the bed and place a pillow between your knees. If there is a gap between the waist and the mattress, use a small pillow for additional support.

Sleep on Your Back with a Pillow Underneath Your Knees

As you sleep on your back, your body weight gets evenly distributed, resulting in less strain on the pressure points. Further, this position helps maintain the alignment of your spine and internal organs.

To rest in this position, lay flat on your back and place a pillow underneath your knees. The pillow is used to hold the curve in your lower back. You can also place a small, rolled-up towel under the small of your back for additional support.

Sleep on Your Stomach with a Pillow Under Your Pelvis and Abdomen

Sleeping on your stomach may add pressure to the neck and lead to upper back pain. However, if you are struggling with degenerative disc disease, this position can release any tension within the space between discs and reduce pain.

Using a pillow as you lay on your stomach is essential. Hence, place the pillow under your pelvis and lower abdomen to reduce pressure on your back. Based on comfort, you may or may not use a pillow under your head.

Few Things to Consider Besides Good Sleeping Positions for Back Pain

Choose a Comfortable Pillow

Based on your sleeping position for upper back pain, choosing the right pillow is essential. Your pillow should support your head, neck, and the upper portion of your spine. If you sleep on your back, use a thin pillow or those with extra padding in the bottom half to support the neck. A memory foam or water pillow is recommended as it provides overall support.

A thin or no pillow is suggested if you sleep on your stomach. You can also lay on your side holding a body pillow. Finally, if you are a side sleeper, find a firm pillow for your head and knees.

Changing your pillows every 18 months helps maintain sleep hygiene.

Choose Your Mattress Right

A firm or medium-firm orthopaedic mattress is highly recommended if you struggle with lower back pain. You can also improve your current mattress by adding a memory foam mattress topper. Further, placing your mattress on the floor or over a plywood board can also help reduce the movement of the springs.

These techniques aim to create a firm ground that supports your spine. Hence, choose a mattress that helps align your body and prevents muscle tension or stiffness.

Be Active

In addition to your sleeping position for upper back pain, mattress, and pillow, staying active is necessary to maintain a healthy body. Stretching and strengthening exercises can increase core strength and keep the spine flexible. Further, exercising helps reduce body temperature and increases serotonin production, which is essential for the sleep-wake cycle.

Hence before you go to bed, perform moderate aerobic exercises that help increase the amount of slow-wave sleep (deep sleep), which is necessary for your body to rejuvenate.

Maintain Healthy Weight

Your body weight can contribute to low bone mass and osteoporosis or add excessive pressure on weight-bearing joints. Further, extra weight can shift your centre of gravity and adds stress to the spine. This is a common cause of lower back pain, knee pain, and more. 

Following a healthy diet and working with your healthcare provider can help you maintain weight, contributing to a smoother sleep cycle.

Consider Physiotherapy

Our team of experts aims to provide physiotherapy services that reduce musculoskeletal pain and allow your body to rejuvenate as you sleep. You can successfully recover from back pain with various techniques, including massages, tissue mobilization exercises, heat and cold therapy, acupuncture, and chiropractic care. 

We offer outpatient consultations and home services to understand and create a treatment plan that satisfies your needs.

Take Away

Experiencing back pain throughout the day is exhausting. However, it does not need to take a toll on your sleep. Hence it is essential to pay attention to basic things like your sleeping position for upper back pain, mattress, pillow, diet, and more, as they significantly influence your physical and mental health. Consulting an expert can help you gain physical strength and improve the quality of your life.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the healthiest sleeping position?

The healthiest sleeping position for upper back pain depends on your needs. A few common ones include sleeping on your side in a fetal position, on your back in a reclined position, and more.

How should I sleep with middle back pain?

Lying flat on your back with a pillow under your knees is the most effective way to reduce middle back pain.