If you have back pain you may find sleeping to be troublesome at times. One of the most common things we hear from our patients is that they’ve found falling or staying asleep difficult, getting into a comfortable position can also be problematic as the positions we find comfortable when we’re in pain tend not to be good for our backs long-term. While there are things that you can do to potentially affect the quality of your sleep, there are things that you can do outside of your bedtime to help as well. We’re going to talk about what the best position is for sleeping with back pain, and also one of the biggest mistakes a lot of people make when trying to find the right position.
Correct Sleeping Posture
When it comes to sleeping, you need to find a position that is putting the least amount of pressure possible on your back. You’ll commonly find that sleeping on the side is the most effective way and the most comfortable for you as well. The trouble is, usually when people sleep on their side your knees drop it, the glute muscles tighten which then pulls on the lower back. Instead, try popping a pillow between the knees which will open the legs marginally and ease some of that stress which it means it won’t pull as much on the lower back.
It’s also important to be aware of avoiding certain postures with your back during the night in order to not make it worse. A lot of people tend to sleep curled around, which can put a lot of stress and compression through your back and your neck – certainly not something you would want to do long-term. Even if you believe that position is most comfortable for you, it will almost certainly make your back pain worse in the long-run. In the clinic, during our examination process we will usually look at the alignment and natural curves of people’s backs to make sure that when they’re standing they’re in as good a position as possible.
The curve of the spine in our video at the top of the page, is one that ideally we would try to match with a patient, since this curvature gives the spine the most support against daily stresses and strains as well as allowing to distribute force of gravity evenly. This is the position you should be trying to maintain on a daily basis, while you’re awake and asleep. So when you’re lying down try not to curl up into a foetus shape, try and lie in as neutral a position as possible. This means supporting the natural curve of the spine by not bending forwards or backwards, and make sure that your head is also equally supported – not being propped up by too many pillows or equally too low as well. If you’re not sure what kind of pillow to use, check out our guide here.