Good Sleeping Positions for Lower Back Pain and Discomfort

Back pain can be excruciating, especially if you’re sleeping in a bad position. This will worsen the pain and result in sleepless nights. With this, you need to practice good sleeping positions for lower back pain to ease your suffering.

However, you should know that back pain can be due to a lot of things. Before you switch to a new sleeping position, it’s worth checking with your doctor if you have any medical conditions. You may have osteoporosis, arthritis, ligament strain, and so on. Also, pregnancy may trigger back pain, especially in the last trimesters when the baby is already heavy.

If you’re suffering from back pain, you can consider the following sleeping positions based on the cause of the discomfort:

1. Sleeping on your back

When it comes to back pain, the best sleeping position would be on your back. This follows the natural alignment of your spine, not to mention that your body weight is spread evenly. Such a sleeping position will support your back and release the tension on your hips.

Some individuals find more relief when they put a pillow under their knees on this sleeping position. Elevating your knees a little keeps your body aligned naturally.

However, sleeping on your back can be uncomfortable if the weather is hot and you have a memory foam mattress. Other than that, this is a go-to sleeping of those with back pain except pregnant women.

The correct sleeping posture during pregnancy is ‘SOS’ or Sleep on Side. Some say that sleeping on the left side will boost the blood flow to the placenta, which is a good thing for your baby. Nevertheless, you can still sleep on your back before 20 weeks.

2. Sleeping in the fetal position

Those with herniated discs will find relief in curling up in the fetal position. This is sleeping on your side with your knees curled up to your chest, somewhat resembling the position of a fetus inside the womb.

To do the proper fetal position, you should lay on your back first then roll over to the side. After that, tuck your knees toward your chest to create a gentle curl on your upper body and legs.

Take note that you shouldn’t stick to one side the whole time. You can go left and right from time to time.

So how does the fetal position ease back pain? When you curl your torso, the spaces between the vertebrae open up, which reduces the force on your disc.

Nevertheless, you should know that this is just temporary relief. When it comes to herniated discs, nothing beats the advice of a medical professional.

3. Sleeping on the side with support

For pregnant women experiencing backaches, the best sleeping position is sideways with a pillow between the knees. This position allows your spine to align naturally given that you have the proper pillow height. Most adult sleepers should use about 5 to 7 inches of pillow height for side sleeping.

Lying on the side is a good option for back pain, however, without support, the leg can pull the spine out of position as it slips forward. The simple solution is cushioning it with a pillow. If there are any gaps between your body and the mattress, you can fill it in with small pillows or folded blankets.

Aside from that, sleeping on your left side is known to be the best sleep position for heart health since it increases circulation. With this, you can reduce heartburn.

4. Sleeping in your stomach

Sleeping on your stomach is a little tricky, especially for those with back pain. Generally, many experts discourage this position, but you can still do so with some modifications.

Instead of sleeping on your stomach plainly, you should place a pillow under your pelvis near the lower abdomen. This will relieve the pressure on your back and aligns your hips with your spine.

Still, sleeping on the stomach isn’t for everyone, especially for pregnant women. If you have a sensitive condition that causes back pain, you might as well consult with a physician.

5. Sleeping in a reclined position

If your back pain is intense, you may find it easier to snooze on your recliner. The reclining position can help ease the pain, though sleeping on a chair isn’t really advisable.

Your best bet is am adjustable bed that you can recline a bit. This will give your body enough support while you dose off. Also, the slight inclination will help reduce the tension in your pelvic area.

Good Sleeping Positions for Back Pain and Discomfort
Photo by Vladislav Muslakov / Unsplash

Things to keep in mind

Find your preferred sleeping position

The key to having comfortable nights is to find the sleeping position that suits you. Each of us has unique pains and aches. It’s only through experimenting that you’ll know what works for you. You can try sleeping on your back, side, stomach, or even the fetal position. From there, you can discover the most comfortable setup.

Stop snoring by sleeping on your side

If you also snore loudly, it’s worth sleeping on your side to stop the annoying sound. Avoid sleeping at your back because it makes your tongue obstruct your airway – thus the loud snoring. However, it’s a different story if you have sleep apnea.

Avoid the starfish position

The starfish sleeping position is when you snooze with your hands spread above your head. This can cause shoulder pain, though it may initially feel good on your back.

Buy a good mattress

A bad mattress can ruin your sleep no matter how hard you find the perfect sleeping position. Consider memory foam since it contours along your body and disperses pressure points. However, the only downside to memory foam is it can be hot to sleep on, especially during the summer season.


Back pain can give you sleepless nights. But instead of suffering, you can look for a workaround to ease the pain. You can start this by finding the correct sleeping position as well as consulting with a medical professional.

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