Best Sleeping Position for Low Back Pain
Lower back pain is nothing short of debilitating, that’s a fact we all agree on.
But what many people fail to realize is that lower back pain is often a result of a bad sleeping position, not only bad posture.
The way we sleep can significantly influence the way our back develops, rests and its overall health, which is why it’s critical to know how to sleep so you can position you back in the right way and which sleeping positions to avoid in order to protect it.
Why Does my Back Hurt When I Wake up?
Have you experienced any pain or stiffness in the morning when you woke up and wondered what may have caused that? It’s weird.
You’re supposed to feel good and rested in the morning, and you wake up in pain, stiffed. Well, the perpetrator behind all your problems is the way you sleep.
You may be sleeping in some way that doesn’t allow your back to rest, you may be pressuring on your nerves, or you just aren’t positioning the rest of your body in a way that would allow it to rest fully, which puts additional pressure on your lower back.
The Worst Sleep Position for Back Pain
Your back pain can be caused or worsened if you sleep in certain positions.
Those positions include sleeping in uneven and weird leg positions, for example when one leg is higher than the other one, or when your leg hangs from the side of the bed.
All these positions can twist your spine, dislocate your pelvis or put additional pressure on your lower back joints and muscles, which will ultimately result in worsening of your back pain.
To avoid this from happening to you, try not to sleep in positions that place your legs awkwardly and try to position yourself in some of the sleeping positions that alleviate back pain.
I will explain those in the following section.
Sleeping Positions To Alleviate Back Pain
There are a few positions that you can sleep in that can alleviate some of the pain you’re experiencing in your lower back area.
Although some chronic lower back pain patients need medical attention for their back pain, sleeping in the following positions can help with your back pain:
The reclining sleeping position is best to be practiced by those suffering from isthmic spondylolisthesis, but it is also good for people experiencing any type of lower back pain.
This is because, during the day, your vertebras press one against the other, which may lead to isthmic spondylolisthesis (a condition where one vertebra slips over the one below it).
By laying in a reclining position, you create space between your thighs and trunk, which reduces the pressure that was placed on your spine during the day and helps it relax and rest throughout the night.
Sleeping in a reclining position on a chair, however, can cause more damage than good in some cases, so be careful where you choose to snooze during the day.
The Fetal Position is one of the best positions for sleeping for those experiencing lower back pain, especially the one caused by a herniated disc or pinched nerves in the area of the spine.
This is because when you lay down with your knees curled towards your chest, you alleviate the pressure that’s placed on the herniated disc or your pinched nerve, so they can relax and rest throughout the night.
However, the Fetal Posture places your spine out of its natural position and it can bring some side effects because of that, so it’s best to try sleeping in this position periodically and see if it does help with your lower back pain.
Sleeping on your side with a pillow between your legs can be beneficial for your whole body.
By sleeping in this position, you’re not only positioning your spine in its natural alignment, but you’re also helping your whole body rest and regenerate.
If you’re wondering why you need a pillow, the answer is simple.
By placing a pillow between your legs, you align your pelvis, neck, and back, giving it the chance to align properly and get back to their natural positions.
But, if you sleep in this position incorrectly, you risk placing your spine out of its position and with it, worsen the symptoms of your lower back pain, so be careful to sleep in the side sleeping position right.
There is a rumor going around that sleeping on your stomach is bad for your back pain. This is actually not entirely true, but it is neither entirely false.
While sleeping on your stomach does help alleviate lower back pain, it may add additional stress to your neck and then cause another problem – pain in the upper part of your back.
However, if you do love sleeping on your stomach, you don’t have to find yourself another position to rest in.
Instead, you can just place a pillow beneath your belly and keep sleeping in your favorite position. If this feels uncomfortable, you can also place a pillow under your head.
This way, you will reduce the pressure that is placed on your back, at the same time minimizing the pressure that is placed on your neck.
This position is especially good for those suffering from degenerative disc disease since it relieves most of the stress that is placed on the space between your discs.
Sleep Tips for Back Pain
Even though lower back pain requires time and effort to fix, there are some things you can do to help alleviate the pressure that’s placed on your spine.
These tips will help to minimize the lower back pain you are experiencing and give you some relief during the night.
Choosing a pillow
Your pillow plays a major role in how well you rest, especially how well your spine rests, which is why it deserves the attention when you’re selecting one.
You will probably need to test a few pillows before finding the one that fits you and your style of sleeping, so don’t be afraid to experiment with the firmness, number, and types of pillows until you find one that lets you rest the best.
Choosing a mattress – Is it time to replace your mattress?
Your mattress is the most important thing you need to buy if you want to minimize back pain, and it’s something you should choose with care.
Contrary to the belief that a hard mattress was the best type of mattress, it has become known now that not everyone needs the same type of mattress.
For example, people with wider hips than waist are better off buying a softer type of mattress because it lets the spine stay straight while they’re sleeping in any position.
On the other hand, people with a straight body shape where the hips and waist are lined up straight would be better off with a harder mattress since it will give the back the support it needs throughout the night.
To find the one that best fits your body shape and the one that helps with your back pain, it would be good to try out a few different types of mattresses.
Whether you will sleep at your parent’s house or a friend’s house, find a way to see what is best for you.
If you think you would be okay with a hard mattress, you can try it out by putting something wooden on your box spring and put a few sheets over it.
Try sleeping on this makeshift bed for a couple of nights and see how it goes and how your back feels after it.
If your pain got worse, this means that you’d be better off finding a softer mattress.
It’s important that while you sleep, your spine is aligned in its natural position.
By being in its natural position, it can rest, regenerate and function properly, without being pressured or irritated throughout the night.
I explained in the previous section why it’s so important to match your mattress to your body type, and all of this is exactly because of the spine alignment.
Exercise your core
It’s important to keep your bones and muscles active and healthy, and this can be done through exercise.
But, it’s important to know the RIGHT exercises for your core in order to avoid causing even more pressure on it and experiencing more discomfort than before.
The right types of exercises will give your back more flexibility and strength, which will help it maintain its healthy state and enable it to withstand the pressure you place on it during the day.
One of these exercises is holding a plank position with your hands under your shoulders while keeping your legs straight.
You should try to keep this position for 15 to 30 seconds with a proper spine alignment (your body should be in a straight line).
You should also feel your abdominal muscles engaging and supporting you.
Try Gentle Yoga Stretches Before Bed
Yoga helps your whole body, especially your spine and muscles. Doing some simple yoga stretches before you go to bed can help your back tremendously.
It will relax the muscles and joints in the lower area of your back, which will help them align in the right position during the night.
This with not only minimize the pain you might experience but will also help your back have the rest it needs and prepare for the next day.
Doctors usually recommend practicing the following yoga stretches: Bear Hug, Kneeling lat, Child’s pose, Low lunge, and neck stretches.
Sleep Hygiene Tips
Sleep hygiene is not actually how well you are cleaned before going to bed.
It is actually the collection of habits, rituals, and regularities you do before going to bed, and all of them play a big part in how well you sleep.
It might seem trivial, yes, but having a better night sleep plays a big role in helping your back pain.
It helps your bones and muscles rest and regenerate for the following day, enabling them to support your body correctly without putting that additional pressure on your back.
In general, the most important elements of good sleep hygiene are the following:
- Temperature – your bedroom should be neither too hot nor too cold
- Darkness – the darker your bedroom is, the better
- Quiet – the quieter your bedroom is, the better
- Your bedroom has to have a comfortable place to lie down and stretch out
Once you have these things covered, you can expect to have an improved night’s rest and feel better as time goes by.
When to See A Doctor
Although the things we discussed to help with lower back pain, there are some cases when medical attention is not only beneficial, but it’s also a necessity.
Make sure you visit a doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Numbness or tingling in the lower back area
- Severe pain anywhere in your back
- When nothing helps your lower back pain, not even medications
- If your pain is caused by a fall or an injury
If you experience pain accompanied by any of the following: trouble urinating; weakness, pain, or numbness in your legs, fever or unintentional weight loss.
Lower back pain can be the cause of a lot of discomfort and pain, that’s something everyone agrees on. It stops you from going about your day freely and living the life you deserve, which is why it’s of great importance to find a way to minimize it.
Of course, there are some conditions, diseases or other cases when medical attention and medications are a necessity, but in most cases, lower back pain can be treated in some degree with proper sleeping position and sleeping routines.
If you’re someone suffering from lower back pain, try sleeping differently, change your sleeping “equipment” and habits, it might be the culprit behind your lower back pain.