Unfortunately, dealing with lower back pain is a very common problem. As stated by The Global Burden of Disease, lower back pain is one of the leading causes of disability across the globe.
Much of back pain is caused by various lifestyle habits, including awkward sleeping positions and stress or strain from bad posture.
If you are experiencing lower back pain, we have got a few tips on some of the best sleeping positions to support pain relief and get a better night’s rest.
On your stomach with a pillow under your abdomen
In reading about sleeping options for back pain, you may have heard that sleeping on your stomach is bad for back pain and adds stress to your neck. There is definitely some truth to this.
Instead of resting on your stomach, you might consider these options instead:
- Place a pillow under your pelvis and lower abdomen. This option will relieve some of the pressure off your back.
- Placing a pillow under your head.
By sleeping with a pillow, people with back pain, especially those who have degenerative disc disease, can relieve any stress that occurs in the space between their discs.
On your side in the fetal position
When you sleep with a proper knee pillow you may want to spend the night in bed on your side, getting your rest in the fetal position, particularly if you are suffering from a herniated disc. If this sounds like a position that would help, here are the steps to take advantage of sleeping in the fetal position:
- Lay on your back and roll over carefully onto one of your sides.
- Tuck your knees carefully into your chest so that your torso creates a curl.
- From time to time, switch sides to prevent any imbalances you might experience.
By using this position, you ensure that your discs have soft cushions between the vertebrae in your spine. If you don’t do this, you might experience herniation – this occurs when part of a disc pushes out of its normal space. The outcome might then be nerve pain and disc weakness.
On your side with a pillow placed between your kneecaps
If you find that you are experiencing pain and discomfort lying flat on your back, you could alternatively try to shift to your side by:
- Allowing one of your shoulders (and the rest of your body as well) to make contact with the mattress.
- Place a pillow in between your knees to create alignment.
- Use a small pillow there for added support if you have a gap between your waist and the mattress when you are resting.
- Resist the urge of sleeping on a single side as it can create muscle imbalance and even scoliosis.
By using a pillow in between your knees while you sleep, you will help keep your pelvis, hips, and spine in better alignment. This will ultimately lead to much more comfort.
On your back in a reclined position
What about sleeping in a reclined position? Some people find a lot of comfort lying back and only on their back – whether it be in a bed or in a recliner.
While sleeping like this might seem comfortable, it’s actually not the best choice for back pain. That said, if you do have conditions such as isthmic spondylolisthesis, lying back in a reclined position, in particular, can be beneficial.
Suppose you do have problems such as isthmic spondylolisthesis, which is a condition where a vertebra slips over the one below it. Instead of a recliner, you might consider investing in an adjustable bed to help keep your back in alignment.
Reclining may very well be beneficial for your back because it establishes an angle between your thighs and trunk to reduce the pressure on your spine.
On your back with a pillow underneath your knees
Believe it or not, for some individuals, resting on their back could be the best position to relieve their back pain:
- Lay flat on your back.
- Place a pillow underneath your knees and let your spine remain neutral. The pillow is crucial because it works to keep that curve in your lower back.
- You may also place a small, rolled-up towel under the small of your back for added support.
The good thing about sleeping on your back is that it makes it possible for your body weight to be evenly distributed and spread across the widest area of your body. This means that you are better able to place less strain on your pressure points, and your spine and your internal organs are in better alignment.
Alignment is crucial
In closing, it is important to make it known that regardless of the position, keeping proper alignment of your spine is key. The key areas to focus on where alignment is concerned are ears, shoulders, and hips.
To achieve the best comfort while sleeping, another key to maintaining alignment is to address any gaps between your body and the bed. If you do not, you may experience strain on your muscles and spine. By using a pillow to fill the gaps, you can preemptively reduce this stress.
Another thing to be aware of is ensuring that when you turn in bed, do it carefully. While turning on to different sides while sleeping can be a good thing, you need to do this slowly and carefully because you can get out of alignment easily if you do quick twisting and turning motions.
Make sure that when you are turning, you always turn with your entire body. And while doing that turning, make sure to keep your core tight and pulled in. You may even want to bring your knees toward your chest while rolling over.
If you are a stomach sleeper, be sure to use the thinnest pillow possible or no pillow at all so that you reduce any stress on the body.
If you are instead a side sleeper, you definitely want to veer away from a thin pillow and instead choose a firm one that has an extra-wide gusset.
Whether you are a stomach sleeper or a side sleeper, always change your pillow every 18 months.