Alaska Sleep Education Center

5 Best Sleeping Positions for Low Back Pain

Posted by Dr. Brent Wells on Jul 10, 2019 7:08:00 AM

There’s no wrong way to sleep. However, if you’re suffering from lower back pain, there are a few steps you can take to make your sleeping position a little more comfortable. Today we’ll look at five sleeping positions that are good for lower back pain so that you can get better sleep and wake up pain-free.


  1. Sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees

back painSleeping on your back is by far the best option. That’s because when you sleep on your back, your spine is aligned and your body weight is spread out evenly across your body. This makes your back more supported and avoids adding pressure or strain to any part of your back.


To maximize sleeping on your back, you should also try using a pillow. You can place this pillow under your knees. Use a thick pillow to elevate your knees and get your back to stay aligned.


  1. Sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees

Sleeping on your side is another good option if you have lower back pain. The only issue with sleeping on your side is that your spine doesn’t stay aligned in the curve of your lower back. To fix this, you can use a thick pillow between your knees to attain this natural alignment. This will give you the alignment you need to stay pain-free.

If you like to sleep on your side with one leg tucked up, you can also use a pillow in between your legs to maintain this same alignment. Either way, the pillow is key for preventing a tense position.


  1. Sleeping in the fetal position

When in doubt, the fetal position is also a good option for your lower back. In Back pain 2particular, if you suffer from hernias, the fetal position is great for getting a curve in your spine so that your vertebrae stay spread out as you sleep. It’s also a comfortable position that doesn’t require any pillows to correct alignment issues.

 The fetal position is also a popular sleeping position, which likely comes from the comfort of having your spine elongated as you sleep. If you’re looking to stay in the fetal position as you sleep, opt for sleeping on your left side. Your left side is better for deep breathing and avoids putting pressure on your internal organs.


  1. Sleeping on your stomach with a pillow under your hips

Traditionally, sleeping on your stomach is a big no-no. However, if you use a pillow you can make this position less taxing on your back. In general, when you sleep on your stomach, you’re putting lots of pressure on your lower back since it remains tense as you sleep to support it. If you want to avoid this pressure, you can slip a thin pillow under your hips so that you naturally support this area without needing to engage any muscles.

It’s important that the pillow is low because with a thick pillow you’ll create other alignment issues. Stick with a lower pillow that fills the space under your hips but that doesn’t lift them too high.


  1. Sleeping reclined with a chair pillow

Generally, sleeping reclined is uncomfortable for most people. However, there are certain lower back conditions where sleeping reclined can feel good. To do this, you have a few options. You can invest in a mattress that allows a section to lift and become a chair. Or, you can use a chair pillow to support your reclining body. It's not recommended that you sleep in a recliner chair, as they aren’t usually designed for all-night sleep.

Stay comfortable by using a chair pillow or a changeable mattress to get the reclining position. You can even use an extra pillow under your lower back to avoid a sensation of pressure there. 


Final takeaway

At the end of the day, you know best what feels comfortable for your body. Be sure to maximize your favorite position by using strategically placed pillows. In addition, if you’re struggling to sleep well at night due to lower back pain, you can try some of these all-natural solutions:

  • Hot bath (with essential oils): A hot bath or shower at night is a great way to reduce pain and feel relaxed. Studies show that a hot bath loosens your muscles and makes you feel prepared to sleep. You can even add essential oils to your bath for extra pain relief.
  • Cup of non-caffeinated tea: A hot beverage without caffeine is also one way to get pain relief and promote relaxation before bed. Green tea in particular is known for its medicinal properties in pain reduction. Try a non-caffeinated version before bedtime.
  • Relaxing music or podcast: Get in the mood for restful sleep by listening to music or a podcast. Studies show that music therapy is an effective way to reduce pain.
  • Exercise daily: To prevent lower back pain, you should also be exercising and stretching the muscles in your back on a daily basis. Try to get at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, with some core-building exercises as well. By using your back muscles, you’ll feel better and your muscles will become stronger and more flexible.
  • Drink plenty of water: Make sure you’re drinking enough water during the day. The recommendation of 8 glasses of 8 ounces each is a good rule of thumb. Drinking water will keep your back hydrated so that it’s less likely to tense up or cramp. Of course, don’t drink too much water before bed.
  • See a chiropractor: A chiropractor can also help you get better sleep. A professional chiropractic clinic - such as Chiropractor Anchorage AK - can make adjustments and use massage therapy to get your body in alignment for maximum sleep.
  • Live a full, pain-free life: The next step may be to meet with a specialist, like a spine surgeon Joshua Rovner.


We hope you sleep well with these bedtime tips and say goodnight to nighttime lower back pain.

If you live in Alaska and your doctor recommends that you have a sleep study to rule out sleep disorders, contact the Alaska Sleep Clinic to receive a free 10-minute phone consultation with a sleep professional.

Live In AK? Need a Sleep Doc?


wellsAbout Dr. Brent Wells

Dr. Brent Wells is a graduate of the University of Nevada where he earned his bachelor of science degree before moving on to complete his doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College. He is the founder of Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab. He became passionate about being a chiropractor after his own experiences with hurried, unprofessional healthcare providers. The goal for Dr. Wells is to treat his patients with care and compassion while providing them with a better quality of life through his professional treatment.





Topics: Sleep, positions, backpain

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