Tips on the Best Sleeping Positions if You Suffer from Lower Back
by Srinivasa Iyer
June 19, 2019
Do you struggle with lower back pain? According to the study Global Burden of Disease 2010, lower back pain is responsible for more cases of disability across the world than any other condition.
It’s important to notice that most kinds of back pain are caused by no grave medical conditions. Health challenges like arthritis and cancer are not usually involved. Instead, back pain is often caused by poor posture, bad sleeping positions, stress and poor habits.
If you struggle with lower back pain, what follows are suggestions for the best sleeping positions, and other ideas, to try.
Sleeping on your side with a pillow tucked between your legs
When you sleep on your side with a pillow under your head, and another one between your drawn-up legs, it can help you sleep better. You should make sure that your shoulder makes full contact with the mattress. If there is space between your waist and the mattress, you could consider inserting a little pillow there for more support. The pillow between your knees helps keep your spine and pelvis in correct alignment.
It’s important to try to not always sleep on the same side. Doing so can lead to muscle imbalances.
Curling up in the fetal position
Sleeping curled up on your side in the fetal position can be a great idea if you suffer from a condition involving a herniated disc. This position helps, because it attempts to curl your torso, positioning your spine to open up. It introduces spaces where the discs reside.
Sleeping on your stomach with a pillow placed at your tummy
Sleeping on your stomach isn’t the best position to go with. It tends to place your neck in an unnatural position, and to stress it. If you find that you naturally prefer to sleep on your stomach, however, you can continue with the position while making a couple of changes. You can put a pillow under your tummy, just to take pressure off the pillow under your neck. People who suffer from degenerative disc disease tend to find this sleeping position the most helpful.
Sleeping on your back, and keeping a pillow under your knees
For many people, lying flat on their backs tends to be the most comfortable position to sleep in. This position evenly distributes your weight across your body. You strain your pressure points less as a result, and have excellent alignment of your internal organs and spine. For the back position to work best, you need to place a pillow under your knees. It can help you maintain the curve in your lower back as you sleep.
Sleeping in a reclined position
For many people, sleeping in a bed is never restful. They tend to sleep best in a reclined position. They frequently fall asleep at night on a recliner or another sofa. If the idea of sleeping in a recliner chair doesn’t appeal to you, you can, instead, buy a bed with an adjustable base. Being in reclined position helps with isthmic spondylolisthesis if you have it, as well. This position helps because it introduces an angle between your legs and your torso. The angle helps lower the pressure on your spine.
You need to remember that alignment is everything
You should realize that the spinal alignment that you achieve is the most important aspect of any sleep position that you may choose. Specifically, you need to make sure that your head, shoulders and hips are in a straight line. If you find that there are spaces between your back and the mattress at any point, you should use a pillow to support yourself in those places. When you change positions during the night, you do need to stay aware of how you turn. It can be easy to get into the wrong position when you’re not conscious. It’s possible to train yourself to move your entire body so that your neck and spine remain in alignment.
Finding out what to look for when you buy a pillow
A good pillow gently holds your head and neck in position while you sleep. When you sleep on your back, your pillow should take up all the space there is between your neck and the mattress. When you sleep on your side, it should hold your head and your spine in a straight line. It’s important to remember that your pillow should never go under your shoulders.
If you’re a back sleeper, a thin pillow may be best. If you sleep on your stomach, you should look for the thinnest pillow that you can find, or use no pillow at all. In many cases, you may be able to mimic sleeping on your stomach even as you sleep on your side. All you need to do is to sleep on your side while hugging a body pillow. The contact that the pillow makes with your stomach may give you the feeling of sleeping on your stomach.
If you’re a side sleeper, you should find a firm pillow. You should also put a firm pillow between your knees.
It’s important to remember that you should get new pillows once every 18 months. Pillows tend to hold plenty of mold spores, dust mites and other allergy triggers. Old pillows are an allergy risk.
Learning what to look for when you buy a mattress
Your mattress has an important role to play in helping you avoid back pain, as well. It used to be that doctors would recommend very firm mattresses to those who suffered from lower back pain. These days, however, doctors believe that people who use very firm mattresses don’t enjoy high sleep quality.
Nevertheless, a very soft mattress can ruin your alignment. It makes sense to choose a medium-firm mattress. If you’re not in the market for a mattress at the moment, you can try to see if more firmness helps you, by placing your mattress on the floor. You take the springs out of the equation, and you firm up your mattress somewhat.
It can take a little work to learn to sleep right. You need to find the right position, get comfortable in it, and learn to hold the position all night. When you learn to do it, however, it can quickly have a direct effect on the lower back pain that you experience.