4 Sleeping Positions to Reduce Back & Neck Pain

Back and neck pain are the most common ailments individuals suffer from. In fact, about 31 million Americans experience low back pain at any given time. While common, this pain can be debilitating. Suffering from severe back pain can make getting out of bed impossible, let alone completing basic tasks or going to work.

Unfortunately, individuals with severe back and neck pain often also experience insomnia. To make matters worse, not getting enough sleep or sleeping incorrectly can increase and prolong the pain. The following 4 sleeping positions can help reduce back and neck pain in bed and make it easier to get quality sleep at night.

1. Sleep on your side with a pillow for support.

If you have lower back pain, sleeping on your side with a pillow to support your legs can help relieve your discomfort. The key to this position is in the supportive pillow, not the act of sleeping on your side. Using a pillow between your knees ensures your spine is properly aligned. 

Test out using 1 or 2 pillows, the right number will depend on your body. Sleeping on the same side every night which can cause further discomfort, so be sure to regularly rotate sides.

healthy sleeping positions

2. Sleep in fetal position.

If you have herniated discs, sleeping in fetal position can be the perfect way to stretch out your vertebrae. Sleeping in fetal position is also good for pregnant women and individuals with lower back pain. Fetal position allows your spine to rest in its natural position, just be sure not to crunch up too much which can limit your breathing. Try to stretch out a bit and find the position that’s most comfortable for you.

3. Sleep on your back with a pillow supporting your knees.

Sleeping on your back is the best way to evenly distribute your weight and eliminate pressure in problem areas. Use a pillow underneath your knees to maintain your natural spine curvature and provide support. If you need additional support, consider using a small pillow or rolled-up towel under your lower back.

sleeping position to reduce back pain

4. Sleep on your stomach.

Sleeping on your stomach is known to be taxing on your neck and back. Sleeping on your stomach is not the most ideal position, but if you find this to be most comfortable, there are adjustments you can make to reduce the strain and associated pain. Move your pillow from your head to under your abdomen to take the pressure off your spine and ensure proper alignment.

Properly place your pillow.

Sleeping incorrectly or with a poorly placed pillow can exacerbate your neck and back pain. Always be sure to use the correct pillow and placement for your sleeping position. 

  • When sleeping on your back, use a flatter pillow.
  • When sleeping on your side, use a taller pillow.
  • Sleeping on your stomach can cause neck pain due to strained angles. Either use no pillow at all or a very thin one to avoid painful positions.

In all positions, your spine should be completely aligned and not tweaked at an angle or straining.

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