Does your sleep position affect back pain?

Does your sleep position affect back pain?

Last Updated on March 29, 2022

Even if your bedtime changes nightly, or you wake up at significantly different times every morning, the chances are that one thing about your sleep routine is pretty consistent. And that’s your sleeping position. 

Unfortunately, the position you find most comfortable in bed may be what causes health problems, brings body discomfort and body aches.

That’s why you can’t help but wonder what effects does your sleeping position have on your body. And more specifically, does your sleep position affect back pain? Well, if you want to find out, continue reading this article for an answer.

Does your sleep position affect back pain?

Does your sleep position affect back pain?

Even though our sleeping position might not be the first thing we think about when we have back problems, it can play a significant role in our back pain management.

There are three standard positions which are side, back, and stomach. All of them use certain strategies that can alleviate symptoms. Let’s take a closer look at these common positions and what can you do to relieve some of the pain in each one:

Side Sleepers

A big percentage of the human population sleeps on their side (side sleeping is the most common position worldwide), but sometimes that can lead to poor spinal alignment. The reason for that is the wrong choice of firmness. You don’t want a mattress that’s too soft or too firm. If you are in need of a new bed but don’t know where to start, take a look at our top mattress choices for lower back pain.

If you’re a side sleeper, try to pick an option that aligns the spine with proper support around the shoulders and hips, to prevent and relieve some of that lower back pain.

Side Sleepers and back pain

What can you do?

Place a firm, flat pillow between your knees if you’re a side sleeper. The pad will align your lower spine with your hips, preventing the leg on top from building up pressure on your lower back and/or pelvis. By doing this, you will help relieve stresses in your lower spine while creating room for your spinal nerves.

If you are an individual that sleeps on your side and experiences aches in your lower back, you should use a head pillow to slightly raise your head in order to keep your shoulders in alignment.

Back Sleepers

Next, we have back sleepers. They can experience recurring pain, but it can be relieved by placing a pillow beneath the knees. Another essential factor after the mattress choice is the pillow that you’ll be sleeping on. Don’t get one that’s too thin since it may cause the head and neck to dip back too far. 

With that said, we understand that choosing your bedding can be difficult and overwhelming, so we’ve created an article on the ‘Best mattress type for lower back pain.’

Back Sleepers and back pain

What can you do?

If you prefer sleeping on your back, the best way to relieve some of that pain in your lower back will be by placing a pillow beneath your knees. Also, if you slightly raise your knees, you will be able to reduce some of the stresses on your lower back while maintaining the natural curve of your spine.

Stomach Sleepers

Lastly, it’s time to talk about stomach sleepers and how this position is associated with more aches than the other two we’ve mentioned above. 

If you’re sleeping face down, your torso and legs can sink too deeply into the mattress while your head remains on an even sleeping surface. We recommend putting a pillow beneath your lower abdomen to reduce pressure on the lower back and prevent excessive sinking.

Stomach Sleepers and back pain

What can you do?

In general, sleeping on your stomach forces your spine into an unnatural position. That’s why your shoulders are often forced upward while your neck is strained. Overall, the real benefit of sleep is to let your body rest and relax, but if you are sleeping in a compromising position, you are already set for failure. 

Stomach sleepers frequently suffer from neck, back, and shoulder pain, which is why it’s advised to switch to sleeping on your back, even if you might find it uncomfortable in the beginning.

What’s the best sleeping position if you are experiencing lower back pain?

Sleeping on the side with a pillow between the knees is typically considered the best sleep position for people that experience lower back pains. 

If you are one of those individuals that feels awkward lying flat on your back, you should try moving to your side. You can start by enabling your shoulder (right or left), along with the rest of that side of your body, in order to make contact with the mattress.

If that doesn’t work for you can put a pillow between your keens and give that a try. Finally, if there is a distance between your waist and the mattress, consider using a small pad there for added support.

Bottom line

Be patient if you haven’t been sleeping well at night and are considering trying a new position to see if it helps. A habit like that can take some time to change, particularly if you’ve been hitting the sack the same way for years.

What we can give you as advice is to invest in a new supportive mattress first and then try and improve your sleep hygiene.

We hope we were able to answer the how and why when it comes down to ‘Does your sleep position affect back pain?’, and now it’s our turn to hear from you if any questions regarding the subject were left unanswered. If you want to share some information, we would gladly hear about it in the comments below.

Isabelle Harris
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