The Best Sleeping Position for Your Back Pain

Back pain can make it really difficult for you to get a comfortable good night’s sleep. Unfortunately, what most people don’t understand is the way you sleep can make things worse. Certain positions may put a lot of strain on an aching back. On the other hand, some positions may help get relief from back pain.

It has been well documented the correlation between back pain and sleeping problems. Sleeping issues can also lead to an increase in the intensity of one’s back pain. Sleep deprivation can affect mood and functional ability. It also has a negative impact on the perception of pain. Pain affects the quality of sleeping resulting in a lighter sleep state. Patients with back pain tend to wake more frequently throughout the night.

As per a recent study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine (November 2016 issue), there’s a strong link between the severity of pain, function ability and one’s overall mood. It was revealed that a good night of sleep will reduce these symptoms.

So is there a specific sleep position that helps ease back pain? Yes.

Here’s What You Need to Know:

Spinal Stenosis

If you suffer from this condition, sleeping on your side in a curled-up position may help you reduce symptoms. This will take significant pressure off your nerve roots. Sleeping on your back will also offer you a lot of relief.

Lumbar Herniated Disc

The preferred sleeping position will depend on the exact location of your herniated disc. For instance, if you are diagnosed with para-central herniation, sleeping on your stomach will help. On the other hand, sleeping on your side in a curled-up position is helpful if suffering from a foraminal herniation.

Degenerative Disc Disease

Under this condition, you will get relief from your symptoms by sleeping on your stomach. You can also place a slim pillow between your hips/stomach and mattress.

Maintaining Sleep Hygiene

In addition to finding the appropriate sleeping position, practicing good sleep hygiene also plays an important role in helping people with back pain fall asleep and stay asleep. For example, the perfect sleeping position won’t be enough to help you fall asleep if you drink a cup of coffee right before bed.

Additionally, while it may sound too simple, good sleep hygiene practices like maintaining a consistent bedtime, avoiding the use of electronics before bed, and giving up day-time naps can all help with your sleep-related problems.

It is important to note that back pain and sleep-related problems need to be treated together. So if your back pain is keeping you awake at night, make sure to tell your doctor so you can work together to formulate a treatment plan that tackles both problems.

Beware of Poor Sleeping Positions for Back Pain

Did you know certain sleep positions can place added pressure on your shoulders, neck, hips, knees, lower back, and even heels? This can be quite painful. First, it is important to understand that there’s no one-size-fits-all sleep position to get rid of back pain. Avoiding the following pattern will definitely help:

Sleeping on Stomach – Most people sleep on their stomach. This can flatten the natural curve of spine, adding more strain on your back muscles. Additionally, sleeping on your stomach keeps your neck rotated, resulting in neck pain, back pain and pain between your shoulders. The problem can be controlled by altering sleep positions at night. Sleeping position when maintained for longer periods can amplify back pain.

Sitting for long periods – If you sit for a long period of time during the day, you are actually inviting back and neck pain. Most people sit for too long periods of time and in an improper position. They sit slouched with their backs rounded. Practicing good posture when standing and sitting will ease back pain at night.

Comfort Factor

First, you’ve got to be comfortable to get a good night’s sleep. All you need to do is make some simple changes to your normal sleeping positions. These tips can be helpful to take the load off your back:

Pillow Under the Knees – This will help only if you are a back sleeper. Simply place a pillow under your knees. This allows your spine to maintain its natural curve.
Pillow Under the Lower Abdomen – Stomach sleepers must place a pillow under lower abdomen and pelvis. This helps ease back strain.
Pillow Between the Knees – Side sleepers will benefit from this. Draw your legs up slightly toward your chest. Sleep with a pillow in between your knees.

Choosing the Right Mattress and Pillow for Sleep

When choosing a mattress and pillow, the best factors to take into consideration are preference and comfort. Some prefer a firm harder mattresses while others are more comfortable on a soft mattress. You may also use a contoured pillow to alleviate neck strain.

In Summary

The above information comprises of only general guidelines. Finding the best sleeping position for your back pain is mainly a process of trial and error. Try maintaining a journal right next to your bed in which you will record how you feel each morning.

In case, you don’t feel any significant improvement in back pain despite making a few changes to your sleep position, it may be time to speak with your doctor.