Sleeping Without Back Pain

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Sleeping Without Back Pain

May 10, 2023

Sleeping Without Back Pain: Your Ultimate Guide

Lower back pain affects people of all ages, but it can especially be troublesome if it starts to flare up while you are trying to sleep. The position you sleep in and the support you have in your lumbar region can determine if you have a comfortable night’s sleep or spend the night tossing and turning. This can have a profound effect on your sleep quality and overall health.

We are going to go over some ways to prevent lower back pain while sleeping, and share some different positions that will create better lumbar support. We are also going to cover some common causes of lower back pain and give you some tips and tricks for preventing pain during the night.

Common Causes of Lower Back Pain

Some common causes of lower back pain can include poor posture, muscle strain, herniated discs, and spinal stenosis. This is often caused by overuse, injury, or even degeneration in the structure of the back over time.

When you are having pain during sleep, there may be several causes of the flare up. If you aren’t getting adequate support in the lumbar region your muscles can become strained and inflamed. This often happens because your mattress is too firm or too soft and isn’t giving you enough lumbar support while you slumber.

External factors such as stress, anxiety, and depression can also cause you to have flare ups during sleep. These factors increase the odds that you will have additional muscle tension in the lower back. Degenerative conditions such as arthritis and fibromyalgia can also cause lower back pain while you try to sleep.

Lifestyle and habits can also lead to lower back pain while sleeping. Carrying extra weight puts additional strain on the lower back and causes additional pain and problems in the muscles and joints.

To reduce and eliminate inflammation in your lower back you should check your mattress and replace it if it isn’t providing good support, practice better posture during the day, and find treatment for any of the medical conditions we mentioned above.

Sleeping Positions

If you are suffering from lower back pain it can seem impossible to find a comfortable sleeping position. We’ve worked with people from all backgrounds and pain degrees suffering with lower back pain and these are some of the positions that have worked for them.

Back sleeping is our preferred sleeping position. It offers the best chance to create a neutral position for the joints and results in the least amount of complications. If you are a back sleeper then the best thing you can do for lower back pain is to put a pillow under your knees.

This keeps the spine in a neutral position and takes pressure off of the lower back. You can create a great deal of lumbar support by placing a small pillow or rolled up towel under the curve of your lower back.

If you are a side sleeper then the primary concern is the pelvis and hips twisting and putting pressure on the lower back through the night. Place a pillow between your knees to help align the hips, pelvis, and spine. Make sure that the pillow is thick enough to create alignment through the back but not too thick that spreads the knees too far and puts pressure on the lower back from the other direction.

Stomach sleeping is our least favorite position as it puts a lot of stress and pressure on the head and neck. If you are a stomach sleeper then placing a pillow under the stomach can take pressure off of the lower back. In this scenario it can be useful to use a thin pillow under the head, or even no pillow at all, to make sure that you don’t create extra pressure on the neck.

We all have different sleeping positions and styles. Whatever works best for you, always keep your alignment in mind and try to create a neutral position. Different pillow and mattress firmnesses can create different pressure points so make sure you try out as many as possible. And do some light stretching before you lay down for the night to help prevent flare ups while you sleep.


It can be difficult to get a solid night’s rest if you are suffering with lower back pain. Fortunately there are some ways to prevent inflammation and flare ups from keeping you up all night.

As we talked about before, consider your mattress. The number one culprit of lower back pain during sleep is the mattress, so make sure that it is supportive and comfortable. Your best bet is always a medium-firm mattress. Go lay on a few at your local IKEA or Mattress Firm to find one that keeps your spine in a neutral position.

It may come as a surprise, but stretching can make a big difference in the quality of your sleep. Knee-to-chest, spinal twists, and hip stretches before bed are great ways to release tension and loosen muscles before bed.

The other thing you can do to reduce lower back pain in general is to practice your posture during the day. Bad posture puts strain on the back muscles that like to act up when you lay down. Sit and stand up straight, and if you have an office job make sure to move around and take breaks often.

Sleep is the foundation of your day, so preventing it from taking that away from you is essential to maintaining your health and wellbeing. Make sure that you sleep in a neutral position by creating lumbar support, practice your posture throughout the day, and do some light stretching before bedtime.

If you are still experiencing lower back pain in your sleep, or you want more personal guidance for getting better sleep, reach out to our clinic today. Our team of specialty physical therapists can provide you with the support and guidance you need to alleviate your pain and improve your sleep quality. Don’t suffer in silence – take action today and give us a call at 281-721-4023!