Skip to content
Dr. Rachel BanksJan 12, 2018 3:04:16 PM8 min read

Best Sleeping Positions for Lower Back Pain

Correcting Sleep Positions for Low Back Pain Relief

Did you know that the way you sleep could be causing low back pain?

There are ways to improve the typical sleeping positions to help relieve and prevent low back pain.

In this blog, we take a look at low back pain, how incorrect sleeping positions contribute to that pain, and how to fix it.

Table of contents:


Is your lower back pain affecting your sleep?

Lower back pain is bad enough to deal with all day, but it's even worse when you go to lay down at night and just can't find a position that is comfortable enough for your back. 

Lower back pain was named the leading cause of disability across the globe.

What’s even more interesting is that most back pain isn’t caused by serious medical conditions, like cancer or arthritis.

Instead, it’s often brought on by stress or strain from bad posture, awkward sleeping positions, and other lifestyle habits.

Sleeping is important, and there are several different sleeping positions that alleviate lower back pain.

Related post: list of symptoms caused by subluxation of the thoracic spine.

The most important thing to remember is to keep your spine aligned.

Keep your ears, shoulders, hips aligned with no gaps.

Here are the best positions for sleeping to try if you have lower back pain, as well as some other things you can do to get a better night’s rest.

Incorrect Sleeping Positions Can Cause Low Back Pain

Lower back pain is typically caused by our daily activities.

Normal habits and movements can put undue stress on the muscles in your back straining them to the point where they cause you pain.

It helps if you exercise your core, sleep on a supportive mattress, stretch before bed, carefully get out of bed, and sleep in the right position.

There really is no manual given to us that teaches how to hack the position that is most comfortable for you.


4 Sleep Positions and How to Improve Them

1. Side Sleeper

One of the best sleeping positions for lower back pain is to sleep on your side.

Lay on your side with a pillow between your legs to open your hips and align your spine.

If there is a gap between your waist and the mattress add a pillow there as well.

Make sure you switch sides to keep a muscle balance.  

Sleeping on your side alone won’t make you feel better. It’s using the pillow between your knees that’s the trick.

The pillow will keep your hips, pelvis, and spine in better alignment.

2. Back Sleeper

Another good position is to lay on your back with a pillow underneath your legs. This allows your weight to be evenly distributed reducing the amount of stress you are putting on your back. 

When you sleep on your back, your weight is evenly distributed and spread across the widest area of your body. As a result, you place less strain on your pressure points.

You’re also able to get better alignment of your spine and your internal organs.

3. Stomach Sleeper

Lay on your stomach with and place a pillow under your abdomen.

This should reduce the pressure on your back. Placing a pillow under your head might not be good for you, but either way, it will still relieve the pressure. 

People who have degenerative disc disease may benefit most from stomach sleeping with a pillow.

It can relieve any stress that is placed on the space between your discs.

4. Fetal Sleeper

Lay on your side in a fetal position with your knees curled up towards your chest bending your back into a "C" shape. By having your back in this position, it opens up the areas between the vertebrae. 

Your discs are soft cushions between the vertebrae in your spine.

Herniation happens when part of a disc pushes out of its normal space, causing nerve pain, weakness, and more.

Curling your torso into a fetal position opens the space between vertebrae, preventing herinations.

These improved positions help to reduce back pressure and get you sleeping the way you need to be.

On average, as an adult, your body requires seven to nine hours of sleep per night, and it varies with age.


Alignment is key

No matter what sleeping position you choose, keeping proper alignment of your spine is the most important part of the equation. Focus specifically on aligning your ears, shoulders, and hips.

You may notice gaps between your body and the bed that strain your muscles and spine. You can reduce this stress by placing pillows underneath to fill the gaps.

Be careful while turning in bed. You can get out of alignment during twisting and turning motions as well. Always move your entire body together, keeping your core tight and pulled in.

You may even find it helpful to bring your knees toward your chest as you roll over.


How To Choose A pillow

Your pillow is just as important as your sleeping position, and using the wrong one can increase your pain.

It should cradle your head and neck and help to support the upper portion of your spine.

If you sleep on your back, your pillow should completely fill the space between your neck and the mattress. If you sleep on your side, try using a thicker pillow to keep your head in line with the rest of your body in this position.

Whatever you do, don’t place your pillow under your shoulders.

For back sleepers: You may do best with thinner pillows and those that have extra padding in the bottom to support the neck.

Memory foam is a good material that molds specifically to your own neck.

A water pillow is another option that gives firm, all-over support.

For stomach sleepers: You should aim to use the thinnest pillow possible or none at all. In fact, you may try sleeping on your side while holding a body pillow. The body pillow will give you the feeling of something against your stomach while helping to align the rest of your body.

For side sleepers: You may want to look for a firm pillow. Better yet, try to find one that has an extra-wide gusset that will help with the space between your ear and shoulder. And don’t forget to place a firm pillow between your knees. You may even substitute a rolled towel.

While you’re at it, remember to change your pillow every 18 months or so. Those pillow protectors can be a good barrier, but pillows still hold lots of allergy triggers like mold and dust mites.


Other Helpful Sleeping Tips

Have a Routine

It may be hard to resist sleeping in if you toss and turn all night. Still, setting regular bedtimes and wake times can help you fall into a more natural sleeping pattern.

Aim to get around eight hours of sleep per night.

Having a process preparing for bed helps your body know when it is time for bed.

This means going to bed at the same time every night (and waking up at the same time every morning). Yes, even on the weekends!

You should also have a nightly routine of brushing and flossing your teeth, washing your face, and other nighttime rituals you do in order to get ready for bed.

Having a process that you do every night signals to your body it is time to shutdown and go to sleep soon. 

Timely Lighting

Make sure there isn't bright light around bedtime and have bright light when you wake up.

This helps set your internal biological clock also known as your circadian rhythm.

The Right Temperature

Make sure your room is comfortable. It should be set between 60-67 degrees. 

Only Sleep in Your Bedroom

If you are tossing and turning, it is good practice to get up and go to another room to do something relaxing until you feel sleepy again.

Keeping your bedroom for mainly sleeping helps your mind wind down when you're in that room. 

Take a Calming Bath

Soak in the tub for 20-30 minutes before bed.

Things to Avoid

Alcohol and heavy foods before bed.

This will avoid indigestion and stomach issues if you don't eat at least 2-3 hours before bed. 

Skip caffeinated drinks like coffee and other stimulants. If you just have to drink a cup, finish your last one before noon.

We do hope that the tips mentioned above are able to provide you with ongoing relief moving forward.


Seek Chiropractic Care Lower Back Pain

These were just a few of the best sleeping positions.

There is no "best position to sleep in" for everyone.

Depending on your body and lower back pain, what's right for you will most likely be different for the next guy.

The key is to find the best sleeping position for you, and then stick with it.

If your lower back pain continues or worsens, give our Arrowhead Clinic Chiropractors a call.

The Arrowhead Clinics have been serving their communities for nearly 40 years, and they can help you get a good night's rest.

If you aren't sure which sleeping position is right for you, the chiropractors at the Arrowhead Clinic can perform an exam to help you identify the sleeping position you should be using every night.

We offer free consultations and can help get to the root of your issue so you can finally get a peaceful night's sleep.

Click the button below to contact the Arrowhead Clinic to discover the best sleep position for you and get relief from your lower back pain.


Free Chiropractic Consultation | Arrowhead Clinic



Next Blog: 12 Signs That You Should Go See A Chiropractor For Your Back Pain


Dr. Rachel Banks

Dr. Rachel Banks graduated from Jackson State University receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology/Pre-medicine in 1990. She then moved on to attend Life University when she was called to the healing aspects of Chiropractic care, she graduated in 1997 with a doctorate in chiropractic. She’s also a proud member of the Georgia Chiropractic Association. Dr. Banks joined the Arrowhead family in 2009 becoming the floater doctor in the Atlanta/Savannah/ Brunswick offices. Her belief and dedication to the field of chiropractic have made her an intricate part of Arrowhead Clinics. In 2016, she was asked to make a permanent move to Savannah taking over the Mall Clinic. Dr. Banks revamped the staff, implemented her own style of leadership and management and in 2018 her clinic won “The Most Goals Met” in 2017. Dr. Banks was born and raised in Atlanta and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority but enjoys living here in Savannah with her loveable furbaby - Lola.