Given the fact that you spend about a third of your life sleeping, the correlation between sleeping positions and back pain makes perfect sense. Unfortunately, there are certain sleeping positions that can really do a number on your spine and supporting muscles, tendons, and joints. The good news is that you can increase your odds of experiencing a more productive sleep without morning aches and pains by considering the following sleep positions:
Sleeping on your side takes the full weight of your body off of your body, which is what happens when you lay flat on your back. It’s also a position that best conforms to the natural curvature of your spine. For maximum support, draw your legs towards your body and place a pillow between your knees.
The key to comfortable back sleeping is proper spine support. A pillow placed under your knees maintains the natural curvature of the spine, which can’t be accomplished by sleeping directly on a mattress, regardless of firmness.
If you really want to do your back a huge favor, get out of the habit of sleeping on your stomach—it’s considered the worst position for the spine. However, if you MUST sleep on your stomach, a pillow placed under your lower abdomen or pelvis can reduce back strain by retaining as much of the natural curvature of the spine as possible.
Sleeping without a pillow under your head can also reduce strain on the spine. However, if you absolutely need a pillow, don’t pile up multiple pillows (too much height puts the cervical spine into an unnatural position). Specially designed wedge pillows can also help keep your back free of added strain.
None of the above sleeping positions are going to be effective if you don’t have a comfortable mattress (firmer tends to be better than super soft). Should you still experience back pain after adjusting your sleep positions, see a board-certified physician to determine if there is another source of your discomfort that needs to be addressed with conservative spine treatments before you can finally enjoy a good night’s sleep.
If you’ve tried conservative methods and still experience regular debilitating back pain, it might be time to speak with a spine surgeon about other options. Dr. Hyun W. Bae is a leading spine surgeon in Los Angeles who can diagnose the cause of your pain and identify treatment options right for you. To request an in-person consultation, call The Spine Institute Center for Spine Restoration at (310) 828-7757 today.