Sleep Positions for Back pain

Sleep Positions for Back pain

Sleep Positions for Back pain

Sleep is important for maintaining good health. It allows our bodies to heal as well as rejuvenation of the spine. One of the leading causes of pain we will suffer from in our lives is back pain. Back pain is often brought on by stress or strain. It can be from an injury, bad posture, awkward sleeping positions and many other lifestyle habits.

Sometimes changing your sleeping position according to your back issue can help relieve pain. Below are some tips if you suffer from back pain that may help you get a better nights sleep.


Brittle and broken bones – the pain of osteoporosis can be one of the things that keep you up at night. It is usually best to sleep on your back that is if you don’t suffer from back pain. If so, try Sleeping sideways with the knees curled up (in the fetal position). This position can relieve pressure by opening up the facet joints in the spine. Sometimes placing a pillow under a sore joint can take some of the pressure off, relieve pain and support the joint.

Another option is sleeping in a reclining chair or an adjustable bed that elevates the head and knees, this too can help relieve pressure on the facet joints. Always keep your back straight, never slouch forward or twist your spine side-to-side as you’re getting in or out of bed. Try a mattress that relieves pressure and it conforms to your body shape. One that is firm, but not hard. Mattress toppers can also help.

Degenerative disc disease

If you have degenerative disc disease, most of the time the symptoms are caused by the irritation, compression and constriction of a nerve in the spinal column. Therefore, you may feel more comfortable sleeping on your stomach. Sleeping on a firm mattress and placing a flat pillow under the stomach and hips can also ease the pain. This position helps relieve any stress that is placed on the space between your disks and lower back. Another option is, try sleeping on your back, using a pillow or wedge to help elevate your upper body. In this position it is important to support the knees in a slightly bent position.

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal Stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal pinching the spinal cord and nerves. This can lead to persistent pain in the buttocks, cramping, limping, numbness in the lower body. It can also lead to decreased physical activity ability. The most common cause is bone damage related to osteoarthritis.

With this condition, it may be best to sleep on your sides with the knees curled up (in the foetal position). This helps relieve pressure on the nerve root. Another option is sleeping in a reclining chair or an adjustable bed. This allows the head and knees to remain elevated so it can relieve pressure on the nerve. 

Trochanteric bursitis

This particular condition of bursitis is when the outside hip bursa gets inflamed causing pain. Having a firm mattress can aggravate the pressure. Sleeping on a pillow top mattress (a mattress with a thick padding on top) can reduce the pressure and provide additional cushioning.

Isthmic spondylolisthesis

Isthmic spondylolisthes is when a vertebra in the spine slips forward and over top of the vertebra below it. It’s due to a stress fracture in a small bone (pars interarticularis) that connects the joints to the vertebra. These fractures occur as a result of overuse, repeated overarching of the back (activities such as gymnastics or high diving), or trauma from an injury. Its best that you sleep in a reclining position. If you find relief by this position, consider getting an adjustable bed. You may like to try using pillows under the back, neck, and head to help support the body as if it were in a reclining chair.

Herniated Discs

Depending on which herniated disc you have will determine which sleeping position is right for you. For a foraminal herniated disc – sleeping on the side in a foetal position often brings relief. If you have paracentral disc herniation (one that pushes toward the center of the spinal cord) – sleeping on your stomach will help ease the pain. For other types of herniated discs it may be more comfortable sleeping on your sides to keep the spine aligned.  Sometimes adding a pillow beneath your head, placing a small pillow between your knees can give you comfort and relief. Using a pillow to elevate the knees or feet can also help.


If your sciatica nerve is compressed or inflamed it can cause pain in the lower back, leg or buttock. To help relieve some of the symptoms while sleeping try a position that will reduce pressure on the nerve. A harder mattress is usually better than a soft one and extra pillows can be used for support. It’s important to achieve alignment through the spine and not to allow the head to drop or be propped up. A single flattish pillow will give you a more comfortable night.

If you feel more comfortable to sleep on your sides then try bending the top knee towards the head and to place a pillow between the knees. This will prevent a twisting through the lower back as your knee drops towards the mattress, which irritates the sciatic nerve. If you prefer to sleep on your back, a pillow should be placed under your knees. It will help to maintain neutral spinal curves. To help minimize the pressure your lumbar discs place on your nerve roots, sleep with your knees elevated, this may alleviate the pain.

Remember it’s always best to get your back checked by a professional practitioner. They can properly assess your issue and provide you with the correct treatment.

Chiro & Sports Med

Our chiropractors at Chiro & Sports Med are committed to providing chiropractic solutions to address your unique needs, whether you are experiencing a pinched nerve, bulging disc, back painneck pain, knee pain,  headaches or even muscular tightness and tension. You may be searching for pain relief after an accident or experiencing injury. You may suffer from a specific condition like chronic back pain or a spinal condition. Our mission is to help reduce or eliminate pain and to prevent future problems and injury. We are here to improve your quality of life, your well-being and your ability to live and active healthy lifestyle.

If you would like to make an appointment with one of the chiropractors at Chiro & Sports Med simply call our office on 9817 2005 and one of our friendly staff will organise an appointment for you.

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