How to Relieve Lower Back Pain While Sleeping

We spend almost a third of our lives in bed. Therefore, our sleeping habits affect the body and particularly the back. According to the National Sleep Foundation, pain is a substantial challenge as far as sleeping habits are concerned. Recent studies state that people experiencing lower back pain have reported sleep disturbance.

Lower back pain caused by sleeping is known to cause a range of psychological and physiological effects. Clinically, sleep problems present significant effects for the management of lower back pain. Studies also suggest that improved sleep quality can considerably minimize back pain and symptoms of back pain related conditions, such as arthritis.

How to Sleep with Upper Back Pain and Lower Back Pain

Many people with back problems are most likely to experience intense pain and stiffness in the morning. Most back structures are relaxed when you are lying down. Usually, disc pressure is lowest when you are resting. Therefore, you need to learn how to sleep with lower back pain and sciatica, in order to heal and not aggravate the conditions.

If you are having upper and lower back pain, but you are not suffering from any sleep problems, then don’t make too many changes with your posture or your position in the bed. You should maintain your normal routine. This is so if your usual sleep postures don’t affect you, whenever you wake up in the morning.

Instead, you should affect something else when you wake up, such as your sitting posture. However, if lower back pain interferes with your sleep such as waking up at the middle of the night, then you need to make some crucial changes to your sleep posture and position. This calls for you to put your spine in a neutral position.

To achieve the best sleeping position for lower back pain during pregnancy, you need to know your neutral spine, as well. The neutral spine is the position in which your lower back feels most comfortable. Experts refer to it as the position in the middle of an arched and rounded back. Mark you, this position differs from one individual to another.

To find your neutral spine:

Low Back and Pelvis

WirralChiro. (2013). Low Back and Pelvis. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQTjtebrC4g

  • Lay on your back with the knees bent and your feet flat
  • Maintain the position and observe if you are feeling back pain
  • If not, then this is most likely your neutral spine
  • In the event of back pain, you should slightly arch your lower back
  • You can achieve this by performing the pelvic tilt or placing a pillow under your knees

Good sleeping positions for back and neck pain:

1. Sleep on the side

Right Side Sleeping Position

BetterMe.Tips. (2017). Right Sleeping Position. Retrieved from https://betterme.tips/391-right-sleeping-position-9-postures-and-what-they-reveal-about-you.html#391

To achieve this sleeping posture:

  • Shift from your back to your side while maintaining the neutral spine
  • Allow your left or right shoulder to be in contact with your pillow
  • Then position a pillow in the middle of your knees
  • Remember to switch side in order to avoid muscle imbalance

2. Take on the fetal position

Proper Sleeping Positions

John Sutherland. (2013). Proper Sleeping Positions. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdDrFUln5ww

To achieve this sleeping posture:

  • Lay comfortably on your back on the neutral spine
  • Slightly roll over onto your side
  • Fold your knees in the direction of your chest
  • Smoothly curl your upper body toward your knees
  • Frequently switch sides to avoid muscle imbalance

3. Sleep on your stomach

Stomach Sleeper Pillow

Downlite Bedding. (2013). Stomach Sleeper Pillow. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13srSwyPnyc

To achieve this sleeping posture:

  • Lay flat on your stomach
  • Position a pillow under the knees
  • Support the neck with a pillow

Good Nights for Your Neck

Side Sleeper Pillow for reducing neck pain

Neck Solutions. (2015). Side Sleeper Pillow. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAsr_D-08tQ

The two best sleeping positions for neck pain and upper back pain: on your back or on your side. Make sure you choose a rounded pillow to support the natural curvature of your neck if you sleep on your back. Avoid using too high or stiff pillows that will keep your neck flexed while sleeping, because they can lead to morning pain and stiffness.

The second best sleeping position for upper back pain and neck pain is sleeping on your side. Make sure that you keep your spine in a neutral position by using a pillow that is higher under your neck than your head. Good sleeping positions are every so often set early in life and may be difficult to change. It is worth trying to start practicing good sleeping postures now.

How to Sit with Lower Back Pain

You can sit properly with lower back pain if you know how to stand in your natural alignment. Maintaining good sitting position can effectively prevent as well as decrease back pain. People with jobs that require long sitting or standing positions should take regular breaks from sitting or standing to help prevent back pain.

The best sitting position for lower back pain is with the pelvis neutral tilt and level. You have to do the following to achieve the pelvis neutral:

Anonymous. (2017). Pregnancy Exercises. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mp-0064N4pg

  • Sit with your spine in an upright position to maintain the neutral arc of the spine
  • The head should be upright with the ears aligned over the shoulders
  • The hips should be at 90 degrees of flexion and the thighs in contact with the sitting surface
  • The knees should be flexed at about 90 degrees and the feet rested on a footrest

Achieving a neutral pelvis position helps create a greater structural integrity across the body. A neutral pelvis functions like a neutral spine in that it protects the spine from lower back pain by preventing the disc from becoming compressed.


About the Author

Dr. Brent Wells has been practicing chiropractic physician in Anchorage, Juneau & Wasilla, Alaska since 1998. He is the founder of Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab, a multi-disciplinary clinic that utilizes a team approach to provide a full range of effective, conservative treatments, including chiropractic care, rehabilitative therapy and massage therapy, as well as other advanced high-tech complementary therapies. His clinics have successfully addressed pain and spine-related conditions without addictive drugs or invasive surgeries for more than 15,000 patients.

    1. Brittany December 14, 2017

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