Best Sleeping Positions for Back Pain

For many New Zealanders, back pain is a significant problem.

If you are one of them, a key cause may be the mattress you are sleeping on. The perfect bed for you should provide correct postural alignment and complete comfort. It should support your whole body without a single pressure point. For even the most supportive mattress, the position in which you sleep may also contribute to a better night’s sleep and a reduction in back pain. Here we review some of the best sleeping positions for back pain sufferers. 

Sleeping on your stomach
Many stomach sleepers experience some type of pain. Whether it is in the neck, back, or joints, this pain can affect how much sleep you get each night. If you suffer from pain during your sleep you are more likely to wake up during the night and feel less rested in the morning. Sleeping on your stomach causes your back to flex unnaturally and strains your spine and ligaments, which makes it difficult to maintain a neutral position when you are sleeping. If you cannot comfortably fall asleep in any other position, place a pillow underneath your chest to help reduce the strain on your lower back.
Woman lying on her stomach in bed.
Sleeping on your side
The most common sleeping position is on your side. A common effect of sleeping in this curled up position is twisting your body so that your legs can rest side by side on the mattress, rather than on top of each other. This position strains your spine. Lie on your side and put a slight bend in your knees, stacking your hips in a straight line – letting your top hip flop forward will rotate your lumbar spine, fuelling more pain. Place a firm pillow between your knees so your legs are propped about hip-width apart. Your arms can relax out in front of you. This may feel unnatural at first but sleeping with extra padding takes practice, and as you get used to it, the pain you experience during sleep may reduce. This sleep position helps reduce lower back pain and helps keep proper spinal alignment.


Woman lying on her side in bed.

Sleeping on your back

Sleeping on your back makes it easier for your head, neck, and spine to align and keep in in a neutral position which means no extra pressure or curves are being added to the back. Place a pillow under your knees to help maintain the normal curve of your lower back. You can also try placing a small rolled towel or a pillow under your waist for additional support.


Woman lying in bed on her back


Key Takeaway:

As you have read here, the best sleeping position for back pain can differ from sleeper to sleeper and often it requires tweaks to your preferred sleep position. We hope our advice here will help alleviate some of the common causes of back pain. The comfort and pain reduction you experience from any sleeping position may be increased through the use of a well-suited pillow or mattress. The Sleepyhead Chiropractic Mattress range might be a good option for you to explore.

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