How to Sleep with Lower Back Pain
One in four adults has experienced lower back pain in the past three months. If you’re one of them, you know just how debilitating and discouraging that pain can be.
Well, one major contributor to back pain is posture. Being slumped over, hunched backed, and twisted throughout the day hurts your back. And yet, daytime hours are not all that matter.
Even with perfect posture throughout the day, your lower back pain may be caused by your posture as you sleep. Here’s your chance to discover how to sleep to reduce—or potentially eliminate—lower back pain.
Your Sleep Position Could Be Contributing to Your Back Pain
When you wake up, do you feel rested and relaxed, or do you feel like you’ve just been through a fight? Millions of Americans sleep poorly due to the position in which they sleep, waking up stiff and sore.
Just as your posture at work and throughout the day can aggravate your back, your posture while sleeping can yield similar results. Sleeping in a position that twists your spine—causing your body to be misaligned and unsupported throughout the night—can create lower back pain.
The Worst Sleep Positions for Your Back
On Your Stomach
The absolute worst position to sleep for your back is on your stomach.
Sleeping on your stomach provides no support for your spine and even flattens your spine’s natural curve. Additionally, sleeping on your stomach puts the most pressure on your spine’s muscles and joints.
The extra pressure this creates is akin to standing slouched over with horrible posture for eight hours every day. Your body’s natural defense to this constant spinal stress is tightening and contracting the muscles around the pressure points to protect the targeted area.
Those aggravated muscles and joints become the epicenter of back pain if left untreated.
On Your Side
A second runner up for bad sleep positions is on your side. Side sleeping, when done wrong, can cause your spine to become misaligned and unsupported, putting you on the fast track to lower back pain.
And the worst form of side sleeping is sleeping in the fetal position—with your legs tucked up towards your chest. The fetal position creates pressure points on your hips and legs, while tilting your spine out of alignment.
To get the best sleep while sleeping on your side, start by straightening your body. Don’t forget to untuck your chin from your chest to help your neck and upper back have the support they need.
You may also consider putting a pillow between your knees as you sleep. This will help your pelvis remain in a neutral position and will prevent your spine from twisting and bending throughout the evening.
The Best Sleep Position for Your Back
On Your Back
The best way to sleep with bad lower back pain is on your back, with one pillow under your knees and one pillow under your head and neck.
If you are still experiencing lower back pain while sleeping on your back, you might benefit from lumbar support throughout the night. Adding an additional pillow under your lower back can help support the natural curve of your spine, reducing unwanted pressure or unalignment.
By sleeping on your back with pillows and mattresses supporting the natural curve in your spine, you’ll be able to transform your night’s sleep. Instead of just getting through the night, you’ll wake up feeling refreshed—without feeling achy and sore.
Your Pillow and Mattress Matter
In the ideal sleeping position, you should have three pillows. One would support each of the following areas:
- Your head and neck, maintaining the proper angle in relation to the mattress
- Your lower back, facilitating the natural curve of your lumbar vertebra
- Your knees, allowing your pelvis to maintain a neutral posture
Finding the right pillows and utilizing them properly, will help you experience a better night’s sleep with less back pain.
How to Find the Right Pillow
The pillows you use play an important role in helping your body recuperate while you sleep. The right pillow provides enough support to keep your body in a neutral position without being uncomfortable.
Here’s what you need to look for when searching for the right pillows:
Most people use their pillows incorrectly.
By just flopping down on the pillow, most people put the pillow under the back of their head, which tilts their head forward and draws their chin down towards the chest. By tilting the head like this, you will put added pressure on your upper neck and feel stiff when you wake up.
For the best way to sleep with lower back pain, your head pillow must become your neck pillow. By lowering your pillow to your shoulders and supporting your neck—not your head—you provide the support your neck needs while maintaining natural spinal curvature.
Try to avoid using multiple pillows for your head. It’s better to have one good supportive pillow for your neck than 2-4 flat, overstuffed, or decorative pillows that do not provide your spine the support it needs.
If your bed doesn’t provide enough support for your lower spine, it’s time to invest in a back pillow.
A back pillow should fit comfortably in the small of your back, without over-extending your natural back curve. If your stomach feels arched up or if there is extra pressure on your shoulders or hips, your back pillow is too tall, and you need less support.
If you need a back pillow, lay down on your back and hold your body in good posture. Then take your hand and slide it into the small of your back. If you can easily slide your hand under your back, you need more support from your bed. If your mattress makes it difficult to easily put your hand under your back, your mattress carries the right firmness to support your back.
Your legs should not be perfectly straight when sleeping. This causes your hips and pelvis to become dipped and unaligned. Instead, your knees should have a slight bend to them, which is possible when you put a supportive pillow under your knees while you sleep.
While it’s possible to fold and stack regular pillows for knee support, the best pillow to support your knees will look very different from your back or neck pillows. You’ll want a small, round-topped dense pillow that has enough structure to support your knees while still being comfortable.
Some knee support pillows feature a wedge shape, supporting the knees and lower legs. These pillows provide the same support for your body and promote healthy spinal alignment as you sleep.
How to Find the Best Mattress
Your mattress also plays a major role in the quality of your sleep. Not only should you worry about what position you’re sleeping in, but where you’re sleeping.
The best mattress for sleeping on your back is a medium-firm mattress. This makes the mattress strong enough to support your body, yet prevents heavier portions of the body from sinking too far into the mattress. Proper firmness offers solid support, while still being soft enough to cushion your shoulders, hips, and lower back.
Another factor to consider when shopping for a mattress is the airflow the mattress provides. Airflow in a mattress helps maintain a cool and dry environment. If your mattress is breathable, it prevents unnecessary heat buildup while sleeping.
Find Back Pain Relief with NeuroMD
If the right pillows and mattress just aren’t enough, NeuroMD can help you fight back pain with clinically proven NMES technology.
Get 50% off your NMES unit, and discover for yourself how you can find relief from back pain and strengthen your back to prevent future injuries. Contact us today to learn more about NureoMD’s back pain relief device.