We’ve been told for years that there’s not much a good night’s sleep can’t fix, or at least help ease. Sleep is our body’s opportunity to rest, digest, and replenish. It helps us heal!
But if you’re someone who suffers from back or neck pain, sleep can be tricky. It can even be harmful if you’re not intentional about how you sleep.
Even if you don’t live with chronic back pain, you’ve likely woken with a tingling arm or achy neck before – and you’ve experienced the negative effects of sleeping in the wrong position.
Here are the best sleeping positions to try if you have lower back pain.
Best sleeping positions for back pain
The key is alignment: When you sleep with your spine in a neutral position, it reduces the strain on your back and neck.
Sleep on your back
The best sleeping position for lower back pain is widely considered to be on your back. This position distributes the weight along the entire spine. 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’s what we recommend:
- Lay flat on your back.
- Place a pillow underneath your knees and keep your spine neutral. The pillow is important – it helps maintain the natural curve of the spine.
- You may also place a small, rolled-up towel under the small of your back for added support.
Sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees
If lying flat on your back feels uncomfortable, try shifting over to your side. 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.
Here’s what we recommend:
- 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 may even cause issues like muscle imbalance.
And if you’re a side sleeper, avoid excessive curling in the fetal position. It may provide a nestled feeling, but make sure to not curl too tight, which can restrict your breathing and leave you with a sore back
Try not to sleep on your stomach. But if you must…
If you are an adamant stomach sleeper, do so carefully. This position puts the most pressure on your spine’s muscles and joints because it flattens the natural curve of your spine. It also forces you to turn your neck, which puts strain on your neck and upper back.
If you’re a stomach sleeper, here’s what we recommend:
- 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.
Remember: Alignment is key
No matter what position you choose, keeping proper alignment of your spine is the most important thing. 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.
Be careful while turning in bed. You can get out of alignment during twisting and turning motions as well. Always move your entire body together, keeping your core tight and pulled in. You may even find it helpful to bring your knees toward your chest as you roll over.
Back pain is common, but not inevitable
Many people believe that back pain is just “part of life.” But it doesn’t have to be!
Being mindful of your sleeping positions can have a big impact on how your back feels on a day-to-day basis.
If your back pain persists, we’re here to help. If you’re in the Charlotte area, click here to schedule an appointment at your local Keith Clinic Estramonte Chiropractic office.