What is the best sleeping position with back pain?

What is the best sleeping position with back pain?

The worst part about insomnia — in my experience, at least — is not being able to find a good position to sleep in. You flop on your back, maybe your stomach, or your side, just knowing that you’ll wake up the next morning with the back pain of a 90-year-old professional wrestler. It almost feels pointless; why bother getting a full eight hours of sleep when your body won’t feel rested?

So, what is the best sleeping position to minimize back pain?

Well, speaking plainly, the answer is on your back. Doctors recommend sleeping on your back because it keeps your spine aligned while you sleep. One pillow under your head (of course) and one under your knees reduces pressure on your lower back. Many people find it impossible to achieve a deep sleep on their backs, however. If you’re prone to snoring, for example, sleeping on your back can restrict the airways and make your snoring worse. This position is also not ideal for pregnant individuals, as it can limit blood flow to your fetus.

If you’re pregnant, have sleep apnea, or just aren’t a sleeping-on-your-back person, the second best option is to sleep on your side. Side-sleeping keeps the airways open and if you’re able to keep your legs straight, it can also maintain your spine’s alignment. Tuck a pillow between your knees to protect your hips and voila! You’re doing the most for your body while you sleep.

What are some good sleeping positions for back pain and their benefits?

  • On your back, with a pillow under your knees: Let’s recap! Sleeping on your back can help keep your spine aligned, and the pillow relieves any pressure on your lower back.
  • On your side, with a pillow between your knees: Sleeping on your side, with legs straightened and a pillow between the knees, can help open the airways and protects the hips.
  • On your side, with knees and chin tucked to your chest: AKA: the fetal position! This is the most popular sleep position worldwide, but it can cause an uneven distribution of weight, resulting in joint pain. On the plus side, though, the fetal position can open the space between vertebrae and prevent a backward curving of the spine.
  • On your back, reclined: This position requires a special kind of bed — or just a thousand pillows — but lying on your back, propped up in a semi-sitting position, supports your back and reduces pressure on your spine.
  • On your stomach, with a pillow under your hips: Let it be said now: generally, lying on your stomach is not recommended by professionals. However, patients suffering from pain in their discs can find this position the most comfy, as it reduces pressure in that area.

Don’t get me wrong: at the end of the day (pun intended), you should always sleep in the position that is the most comfortable to you. All the research in the world won’t prevent me from sleeping on my tummy once in a while! I do have a hip condition that causes some lower back pain and I do admit that if I can manage to sleep most of the night on my back, my hips overall do feel better!! Knowing what positions will make my body feel the best in the morning makes me feel a lot better at night, and laying down with intention helps to quell the urge to toss and turn.

Your mattress can have a huge effect on your sleep, and reducing pain too.

I’m sure that it comes as a surprise to nobody when I say your choice of mattress affects the way you sleep. The Sleep Foundation recommends that you reevaluate your mattress every 6-8 years to make sure it’s still doing the most for your body.

If it’s within your budget, replacing your mattress could be the secret to unlocking your best night’s sleep. Don’t be afraid to test them out in the store! Take off your shoes and settle in, allowing yourself to rest for a few minutes to see whether you feel supported. Do you sink in too deeply? Is it too hard? See if you are able to maintain your standing posture.

While it used to be believed that a firm mattress is the best for anybody, we now know that some individuals may sleep better with a softer mattress. Your ideal mattress can depend on your body type; for example, someone with wide hips may require a softer mattress, allowing the wider parts of your body to sink in so your spine can remain straight. Someone with hips the same size as their waist may prefer a harder mattress, as it can provide more support.

Experiment with different mattresses, if you can: when you have sleepovers at friends’ houses, or when you stay at hotels, do you sleep more soundly and wake up with less pain?

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For back pain relief, here are some of my favorite options for mattresses!

Brand: NEST

‘Sparrow’– their most popular and least returned pillow-top premium foam hybrid mattress is the most comfortable for all sleeper types.

  • Many awards for back pain relief including ‘most comfortable mattress’ by slumber yard 2021/2022, awarded ‘mattress for back pain’ bu Tuck 2021 and Best mattress 2021
  • King and Cal King can be ordered as internally split comfort layers, granting each side of the bed a different firmness level.
  • Energex foam is responsive and offers a memory foam-like feel without leaving a lasting imprint on the mattress.

Individually wrapped coils isolate motion (so you won’t wake up when your partner reaches for a glass of water in the middle of the night. You can also choose between a firm, medium and plush comfort feel to best suite you.

-Lifetime Renewal Exchange (LRE) program and a 365 night trial

-Made in the US using high quality clean materials

-$1599 USD for a Queen size (on sale now!) or approx $2050 CAD

Brand: Essentia

‘Stratami Mattress’ provides medium-firm support with a five-inch latex foam core and an innovative dome-shaped contouring that is the star of this luxury firm feel mattress. The thoughtful design allows your body to remain cool throughout the night, while taking the pressure off your joints.

What Makes the Stratami Stand Out?

  • The perfect solution for sleepers who prefer a more latex-type feel and support for their mattresses over natural memory foam.
  • Additional air channels built into the state-of-the-art dome contouring reduce the surface area pushing back against your body. The result is a luxurious, comfortable mattress that just happens to be made of organic latex.
  • The gentle contour of the Stratami Luxury is best for side sleepers who need shoulder support and stomach sleepers who need elevated lumbar support.

-20 year warranty and a 120 sleep night trail

-All handmade in Essentia’s GOLS and GOTS certified organic factory in Canada

-$ 3,509 CAD for a Queen size or $2630 USD

Brand: Douglas

The with Douglas ‘Summit mattress’ you will get triple-action cooling, ultimate pressure-point relief, and amazing motion isolation. No more waking up your partner when you need to change sleeping positions!

No more waking up your partner! 7” Motion Isolation Support Foam- extra height for
extra stability and durability. High-density foam base layer stops
vibrations from traveling across the surface of the mattress, so you
can enjoy an interruption-free sleep.

  • 12” height, 3 premium foam layers
  • Cooling nanofibre cover & cooling gel foam
  • Polar® active temperature balancing

– 15 year warranty and a 120 night sleep trail with free shipping and returns

-Douglas Summit is built with sustainable Infinitex™ fibers and ecoLight® cooling gel foam, which requires up to 40% less carbon input to create (compared to high-density 4 lb memory foam*)

-Made in Canada

-$1299 CAD for a Queen or approx $975 USD

What sleeping position works best for your back pain? Please also let me know what mattress firmness you prefer to get the most relief and the best nights sleep.

Happy sleeping!

2 thoughts on “What is the best sleeping position with back pain?

    • Author gravatar

      Oh, back pain and sleep, two of my least favorite things! I definitely need to up my sleep game and protect my back. I was just reading this article and it’s full of great tips, but I’m curious – have any of you tried the fetal position for back pain? I’ve always been a side sleeper but I’m willing to give it a shot if it means waking up without aches and pains.

      • Author gravatar

        Hi Jennyse.  Thank you for your comment! And yes sleeping with back issues/pain is horrible. I think I’ve tried many different positions.  I deal with hip/lower back pain and personally (although I prefer my side or stomach naturally) the only thing that helps me function better the next day is sleeping on my back.  My chiropractor recommended it and it’s really helped me.  I think we need to listen to our body and try different positions and see how you feel when you wake up- so give the fetal position a go and it might be a good one for you! Let me know if you do and how it goes for you. 🙂

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