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How To Sleep With Lower Back Pain? (Best Sleeping Positions and Tips)

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Dealing with lower back pain can be extremely draining and challenging, and sleep deprivation can translate to all of the aspects of your life, affecting many activities, and it can also affect mood.

Sleep is supposed to be a safe, comforting time for relaxation, and severe lower back pain can ruin the enjoyment of relaxing in the sheets, on a soft mattress. Bad quality of sleep affects the time of the day you spend awake, and the cycle never ends.  

In fact, sleep and pain have a very complex relationship, and they are very closely connected to each other. For example, pain can seriously disrupt and ruin sleep, which can make it more likely to experience pain, and it can make chronic pain even harder to deal with. Finding relief can seem impossible, but it is far from that! Sleeping well is still possible, even when dealing with lower back pain, and here is how.

How Do Sleeping Positions Affect Lower Back Pain?

Your sleeping position plays a much more important role than many people think. Your sleep positions can drastically improve or drastically lessen the quality of your sleep.

This is even more true if you are dealing with lower back pain, which is when your sleep position becomes an important factor to take into consideration when going to bed.

The key to a comfortable sleep position is alignment; when you are sleeping with your spine in a neutral position, the strain on your lower back and neck is reduced. Remember that your posture is as important when you are lying down as when you are standing or sitting. You are (hopefully) sleeping 7-8 hours a night, and spending that much time in a misaligned position cannot be beneficial.

The Best Sleeping Position for Lower Back Pain Relief

Just like previously mentioned, there are some sleep positions that could affect the quality of your sleep, especially when dealing with musculoskeletal pain, bad posture, or sleep problems. Some of the best sleeping positions for those dealing with lower back pain include:

On The Side with A Pillow Between The Knees

Sleeping on your side will not make much of a difference, but the pillow will do the trick, as it will keep your hips, pelvis, and spine in better alignment.

To get into the best version of this position, you should:

  1. Lay on one side of your body; whichever one is your preference is fine. Get into the fetal position.
  2. Place a body pillow between your knees.
  3. Place one pillow underneath you, in a small gap between your waist and the mattress if there is one for extra support in the natural curve of your spine.

On The Side in The Fetal Position

Curling your torso will open the space between vertebrae in your spine, which can relieve lower back pain caused by a herniated disc. To get into the best version of this position, you should:

  1. Lay on one side of your body; whichever one is your preference is fine.
  2. Comfortably tuck your knees into your chest and curl your torso against your knees, curling up like a baby or a cat would. You can also place a pillow between your knees 3. Make sure to switch sides from time to time.

On The Stomach with A Pillow Under the Abdomen

Some people are just stomach sleepers, and they prefer stomach sleeping rather than sleeping on their backs, and that is completely fine, as long as it is done right.

There is no sense in forcing yourself to become one of the back sleepers if that is not natural for you. Sleeping with a pillow under your abdomen area will prevent the lower back from sinking and pulling the spine out of alignment.

To get into the best version of this position, you should:

  1. Wile lying flat on your stomach, place a small pillow under your pelvis. This pillow will help the lower abdomen to relieve some of the pressure off your lower back.
  2. You can also use a pillow under your head, depending on how you feel.

Tips for Sleeping Better with Lower Back Pain

Apart from the most comfortable position, there are other things that you can do and small changes you can make in an effort to improve the quality of your sleep, with or without chronic low back pain. Here are some of them:

– Get a good, supportive mattress.

Proper spinal alignment and good quality sleep demand a mattress in good condition. The best mattress fit for you will depend on your body weight, body shape, and individual comfort preferences. However, it is always best to lean on the side of a harder mattress, as it will help support your lumbar spine, retain its proper alignment, as well as relieve low back pain. 

– Try different relaxation methods.

Finding different techniques to relax and get in the sleepy mood will put less focus on low back pain, making it easier to fall asleep. Those relaxation methods include reading, listening to relaxing music, and meditation.

– Be careful about your caffeine and alcohol intake.

Many think that alcohol can help one doze off, but the truth is that alcohol throws off the quality of your sleep. Caffeine is just as bad since it is a stimulant that can make it harder to fall and stay asleep. You do not have to quit alcohol and caffeine altogether, but be careful with their consumption.

– Reduce potential disruptions and distractions.

When dealing with low back pain, falling asleep once is hard enough. If you notice that you tend to wake up numerous times during the night, you probably know that lower back pain makes it really difficult to fall back asleep every time. This is the reason why you should try to eliminate excess light or noise from your bedroom, according to the National sleep foundation. You can also try using a sleep mask or earplugs. Before going to bed, set the temperature of your bedroom to the one that will be comfortable.

When To See a Doctor Regarding Lower Back Pain?

Dealing with back pain is common for the majority of adults at least once in their life, and the pain can usually be successfully treated. There are several ways that can help relieve pain. 

However, there are some lower back-pain related scenarios where you should talk to your doctor who will be able to provide medical advice. Some of those scenarios include:

  • Pain is severe, to the point of being debilitating and stopping you from doing all of the normal daily activities.
  • The pain appears after an injury.
  • Pain continues or becomes worse for more than a few days.
  • Pain spreads to the legs or other parts of the body.
  • Apart from pain, you also experience numbness or weakness in the lower part of your body, such as legs, hips, lower back.
  • There are signs of infection around the painful area, such as redness, warmth, swelling, or fever.
  • You have other unexplained health changes like urinary problems or unexplained weight loss.
  • You have a personal history of cancer.

Your healthcare provider will be able to provide a detailed medical exam, assess all of your symptoms, and determine the steps needed for treatment, all in an effort to relieve your symptoms and provide some much-needed pain relief.

Conclusion

Dealing with any type of pain can be very draining, lower back pain included, which is why high-quality sleep is essential for healthy living. Even though sleeping with lower back pain can be tricky, and lower back pain can affect sleep quality, it is not impossible to get a good night’s sleep in a good sleep position.

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