When you have back pain, even sitting or lying down to sleep in the evening can be difficult. Today we wanted to share with you some of our most recommended sleeping positions, so however you usually sleep – whether that’s on your back or side – you can find something to help. We’ll be sharing both back and neck pain tips today to help you get a good night’s sleep. Before we get into this, it’s important to emphasise just how important sleep is for your body. Sleeping is where your body heals itself and can help you recover from injury, so it’s really important that you try to make yourself as comfortable as possible if you’re struggling with back and neck pain as these are injuries. If you try to not take painkillers for your back pain, consider only taking them at nighttime if you feel the pain is preventing you from sleeping.

What To Avoid

We will first of all talk very briefly of what to avoid. A lot of this advice particularly relates to neck pain, as there’s more things you can potentially do to irritate your neck. For your neck, whether you sleep on your side or on your back, you’re going to want to specifically avoid sleeping with lots of pillows. Sleeping with more than one pillow is going to prop your neck up into an unnatural position, which when you’re asleep for 6, 8 or 10 hours a night is going to be quite irritating. You’ll also need to avoid sleeping on your front if you have neck pain, as this can cause you to twist your neck to the side. This can also be very irritating for your neck so do try to avoid this. For the lower back, you’ll simply want to avoid curling up into a ball or a foetal position as this will cause rounding of the back. If you have a lower back problem, inflammation can pool around the injury while you’re asleep and not moving. When your lower back is rounded, this may seem comfortable as it helps to open up the spaces in the back of your spine where the nerves travel, but inflammation can fill this space and you may find it more difficult to be able to straighten yourself up in the morning.

Best Sleeping Positions For Lower Back Pain

For lower back pain, if you generally find that sleeping on your lower back is your preferred position, you may find it more comfortable to pop a pillow underneath the legs to help you get to sleep or to stay asleep for longer. This position can round the spine so it’s not the most ideal position for you to sleep in, but if you’re in a lot of pain this may be the best way for you to be able to get to sleep comfortably in the interim, while you’re getting your rehabilitation underway.

If you prefer sleeping on your side, popping a pillow between the knees can not only help if you’ve got knee troubles, it can help you to better maintain good posture. Often when you lay on your side, the hips may be uneven, the knees can be in more awkward positions and these actions can all pull on the glutes. Tight glutes can mean that they pull on your back, which may further exacerbate the problem. Do make sure that while the pillow is between the knees that, as above, you’re not rounding the spine.

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Finally, if you have a smaller waist or wider hips, you might find that as you lay on your side, your waist droops down to the bed. This may not be very helpful for you if you have back pain, as it causes your spine to no longer be in a nice, neutral position. If this is the case for you, you can try placing a smaller pillow underneath the waist to help you stay in a more neutral, straighter position.

Best Sleeping Positions For Neck Pain

For neck pain, whether you sleep on your back or side, there’s something you can do to benefit your neck while you sleep. If you prefer lying on your side, you need a pillow that’s going to effectively fill the gap between your shoulder and head. We often recommend tempur or orthopaedic pillows for this reason, as you have the thicker side in the crook of the neck so your head can then drop slightly back the other side. If you don’t have one of these pillows, you don’t need to go out and buy one but you can try making one at home first to see if this style is going to be comfortable for you. Using an old pillow, roll up one side so it makes a slightly thicker end, this way it can also be tailored to the height of your shoulders as well.

If you prefer sleeping on your back, you’ll want to have just a low pillow so your neck can stay in a neutral position. Some orthopaedic pillows have a shallower swooped end on the other side of the pillow to use if you’re a back sleeper, so you may find this to be more comfortable. You just need to avoid a forward head posture, which will certainly make things worse. If you are getting pain in your neck when lying on your back, you may struggle with some of the rehabilitation exercises we recommend, namely things like deadbugs or marching bridges. If this is the case, popping a pillow underneath your neck just for the couple of minutes you’re doing these exercises will just allow you to get the most from your workout by helping you feel more comfortable.

We hope you found today’s article helpful! If you have any questions at all about sleeping with back or neck pain, please do get in touch with us either via our social channels, by emailing us at info@themayfairclinic.com or by tuning in to our livestreams on our Facebook and YouTube channels every weekday. If you’re not sure what you can be doing for your back pain at home, please do make sure to check out our Back In Shape membership area, for dedicated advice and rehabilitation you can start at home today. Sign up for free today by visiting www.backinshapeapp.com.

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