Tips on How to Sleep with Lower Back Pain
Is your sleep position causing back pain? Did you know that stress, bad posture and certain lifestyle habits can also contribute to back pain and sleep deprivation?
Choosing a good sleeping posture helps to provide pain relief as it eases the pressure on your spine and surrounding muscles.
Best sleeping positions to relieve lower back pain
According to physicians and health and wellness professionals, here are the best sleeping positions to ease short term or chronic low back pain and improve sleep quality.
Lying on your side creates a gap between your waist and the bed, which can exacerbate back pain. Placing a small pillow under your waist and one pillow between your knees can help maintain proper spinal alignment. This is also a good position for snorers or sufferers of sleep apnea. Make sure you switch sides throughout the night to prevent a muscle imbalance. If you have a herniated disc, the fetal position may be more comfortable.
You may have heard that stomach sleeping is the worst sleep position for low back pain. But if you prefer to sleep on your stomach or have degenerative disc disease, you may find it helpful to place a pillow under your pelvis and lower abdomen, and if you choose, place a pillow under your head.
Drawing your knees towards your chest while lying helps the back maintain its natural curve. Also, this sleeping position distributes your body weight evenly, reducing stress on your pressure points, internal organs and lumbar spine.
Lying flat on your back, place a pillow underneath your knees, and you may like to place a thin pillow or a small, rolled-up towel under the small of your back for extra support. Consider investing in an adjustable bed if you prefer sleeping in a reclining position.
Best mattress for lower back pain
Doctors once recommended extra-firm orthopaedic mattresses to relieve pain. But, often, people who use them suffer from sleeping problems. Conversely, super-soft mattresses won’t help with alignment.
Seeing as a firmer mattress is better than a soft mattress for relieving back pain, you could place a plywood board between your mattress and your box spring. Or, buy a good-quality firm or medium-firm mattress or a memory foam mattress topper to improve an existing innerspring mattress.
How the right pillows can help
No matter what sleeping position you choose, the right pillow will help you maintain proper alignment.
Back sleepers should ensure the pillow fills the space between the neck and the mattress. You may prefer a thinner pillow or one with extra padding at the bottom to support the neck. But, do not place a pillow under your shoulders; this will only make the pain worse.
Side sleepers should use a thicker pillow or a firm pillow with an extra-wide gusset to help fill the gap between the ear and shoulder.
Stomach sleepers should aim to use the thinnest pillow possible – or nothing at all.
Sleep routines to help with lower back pain
To get better sleep and reduce your back pain, set a sleep schedule to help your body fall into a more natural sleeping pattern. Or, choose a couple of relaxing activities before bed, such as taking a bath, doing some gentle yoga, reading or knitting.
Also, save rigorous exercise for the morning or early afternoon; otherwise, you’ll raise your adrenaline levels and body temperature, making it harder to fall asleep. And try not to drink caffeinated drinks after midday.
When to seek professional help
If the pain still exists after a few weeks and applying a hot or cold gel pack doesn’t help, we recommend talking to a specialist and seeking alternative treatment options.
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