Since we spend around a third of our lives sleeping, the position we sleep in can have a dramatic impact on the severity of back pain.
Which is the best sleeping position for reducing or preventing back pain?
The answer is, it depends.
Most of us have a sleeping position that we tend to favour as we drift off to sleep. Trying to get a side sleeper to fall asleep on their back, or vice versa, may simply not be possible.
This means that optimising our preferred position is usually the best approach to reducing or preventing how we sleep from adding to our pain.
Here are some adjustments that can be made to common preferred sleeping positions if you experience back pain.
If you sleep on your back
Many doctors advise that sleeping on your back is the best sleeping posture since it promotes even distribution of your body weight along with proper alignment of your neck, head and spine. This helps to keep pressure to a minimum.
If you suffer from back pain, however, you may find that it is aggravated by sleeping on your back, particularly if it is lower back pain you suffer from.
To help maintain the natural curve of your lower spine, place a pillow or cushion underneath your knees and lower legs to elevate them. Ensure the pillow under your head also allows for optimal spinal alignment and does not elevate your neck too much or offer insufficient support.
If you are a back sleeper who suffers from chronic back pain, you may find that adding an adjustable bed base makes all the difference as you can lower and lift the top and bottom of your bed until you feel the pressure on your lower back relieve.
If you sleep on your side
The majority of people feel most comfortable sleeping on their side. However, side sleeping can add to back pain as, unless properly supported, it adds strain to the spine by pulling it out of its neutral position.
If you are a natural side sleeper, you can optimise your sleep position by placing a pillow or cushion between your knees. This helps to keep your hips aligned which prevents the top leg adding pressure on your lower back and pelvis while promoting good spinal nerve positioning and alleviating stress on the lower spine.
Always stack your knees on top of each other instead of rolling one hip forward into the recovery position. This essentially puts you into a gentle twist which, through the night, can create or add to your pain. Ensure your pillow profile is appropriate for side sleeping too as if it is too high or too low, this will impact on the overall position of your spine.
If you sleep on your stomach
While stomach sleeping is not the best for neck pain, it can actually be very relieving for those who suffer from lower back pain, particularly where there may be disc issue or spinal degeneration.
It is important, however, to place a pillow underneath your stomach to maintain the correct alignment of your spine. You will only need a thin pillow, or even a towel would work, placed underneath the hips and abdomen. This will raise your mid-section slightly and prevent the overextension of your lower back while allowing the ideal space for your spinal nerves.
Regardless of how we fall asleep, very few remain in one position through the entire night. This means that our mattress choice is just as important as our sleeping position when it comes to preventing or reducing back pain.
The best mattress for back pain is a latex mattress since its natural buoyancy promotes healthy spinal alignment no matter what your preferred sleeping position.
Our latex mattresses contour to the body, providing firm support for the back, and soft comfort for the shoulders and hips to reduce the pressure along all points of the spine.