Not only can pain get in the way of some much-needed shuteye, but improper sleeping posture can further worsen the situation. This is especially true for lower back pain, which was named by the Global Burden of Disease study as the leading cause of disability worldwide.
What’s more, is that back pain is much less often the result of a medical condition than it is a bad posture or awkward sleeping positions. In fact, how you sleep may be the underlying cause of your pain, as certain positions put unnecessary pressure on the neck and back.
It’s important to maintain the natural curve of your spinal column during sleep. This can be done by ensuring that it’s in alignment and your back is adequately supported. The right sleeping position can alleviate pain and possibly strike it out altogether. Here are some positions to consider, as well as some other ways to ensure you rest easy at night.
On Your Back with a Pillow Under Your Knees
Sleeping on your back is widely regarded as the healthiest position for back support. This is because it evenly distributes weight along the length of your body and aligns your spine. By placing a small pillow under your knees, you can further support the natural curvature of your spine. Be sure to avoid twisting your head sideways in this position.
On Your Side with a Pillow Between Your Knees
If you experience discomfort when lying on your back, try shifting over to your left or right side. Your shoulder should touch the mattress, along with the rest of your body. You can place a pillow between your knees and, if necessary, another small one in the gap between your waist and the bed.
It’s not sleeping on your side that actually makes you feel better, but rather the pillow between your knees, which improves the alignment of the hips, spine, and pelvis. Be sure to frequently switch sides every now and then to prevent muscle imbalance issues.
Sleeping curled on your side in a fetal position is particularly helpful for people with a herniated disc. Start by lying on your back before gently rolling over to your side. From here, bring your knees toward your chest and gently move your torso forward. Again, it’s important to switch sides every now and then.
On Your Stomach with a Pillow Below Your Abdomen
You might have heard that sleeping on your stomach is the worst position for your back. This is partly true, as the position may increase pressure on your neck. However, some people naturally rest on their stomachs. Instead of forcing a different position, lay on your stomach and reduce back strain by placing a slim pillow under your abdomen.
On Your Stomach with Your Head Face Down
Another reason people avoid sleeping on their stomachs is the stress it places on your neck, back and shoulders when your head is turned to the side. You can work around this by lying face down and placing a small pillow or towel beneath your forehead to allow room to breathe. In this case, you should also place a pillow under your stomach.
Remember that regardless of your chosen position, correct spinal alignment is key. Using pillows to fill any gaps between your body and the bed can help reduce strain. Don’t forget the importance of having a supportive pillow and mattress. A high-quality mattress that supports your body can help alleviate back pain. The same applies to a good pillow.
Maintaining your overall posture is just as important for preventing pain and ensuring a good night’s rest. Following a stretching and exercise routine can also prove tremendously helpful. By following the right habits, you can go back to feeling great all day and sleeping comfortably all night.