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Health And Beauty

The Best Sleeping Positions For Back Pain

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On the JJ Barnes Blog, I learned the best sleeping positions for back pain so I can get a better night sleep and hopefully feel less discomfort when I’m awake too.

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Back Pain

For anyone who’s ever woken up feeling like they wrestled a bear in their sleep (without the bragging rights), you know the struggle is real. Back pain can be relentless, stealing precious sleep and leaving you feeling stiff and achy throughout the day.

Determined to break free from this cycle of discomfort, I embarked on a mission to discover the holy grail of a pain-free slumber. My quest led me down a rabbit hole of sleep research, ergonomic advice, and some surprising discoveries about the best sleeping positions for back pain.

Back pain has become more widespread in recent years, with 540 million people worldwide suffering from back pain at any given time. This is also highlighted by the gradual increase in searches for ‘back pain’ over the last 20 years worldwide, as shown by Google Trends. 

Join me as I explore the fascinating world of sleep positions, debunk some myths, and uncover the secrets to a night of restful sleep that translates into a pain-free day. To help me out, the experts at NJ Spine & Orthopedic have sent over answers to the Internet’s most common questions, including how to sleep with lower back pain.

The Best Sleeping Positions For Back Pain

How to sleep with lower back pain? – 10,000 monthly global searches 

For those suffering with lower back pain, quality of sleep is crucial. Opting for the correct sleeping position can make a considerable difference in relieving pain, enabling you to enjoy a peaceful night’s rest. 

Ultimately, sleeping on your side, especially with a pillow between your knees, is the best option for those dealing with back pain as it is beneficial for aligning the hips and reducing pressure on the lower back, helping maintain the natural curvature of the spine.

Alternatively, sleeping in the fetal position can be beneficial for those suffering with back pain. By curling up in a fetal position, there is typically less pressure on the discs between the vertebrae, potentially alleviating discomfort. 

Conversely, the sleeping position that tends to worsen back pain the most is sleeping on your stomach as this position can strain the natural curvature of the spine, putting additional pressure on the lower back. 

What causes lower back pain in females? – 27,000 monthly global searches 

Ultimately, lower back pain can stem from a range of conditions, affecting individuals regardless of sex. However, factors solely affecting women, such as menstrual cycles, pregnancy, menopause, or endometriosis, may play a role in contributing to lower back pain. Research suggests that women over 30 years old are the most at risk of developing chronic pain in the lower back. 

Premenstrual syndrome, often known as PMS, can be a frequent source of lower back discomfort in women. It’s believed that uterine contractions during PMS may extend to the lower back, while increased inflammation might contribute to back pain. 

Lower back pain can also be linked to menopause. Back pain can be associated with menopause due to decreased hormone production, leading to lower bone density. Research has linked lower estrogen levels post-menopause to increased lumbar disc degeneration and back pain, especially compared to men of similar age. Menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, and mood changes can also disrupt sleep and therefore worsen existing back pain. 

Back pain is also common during pregnancy. This occurs as your center of gravity shifts, you gain weight, and your hormones relax your ligaments in preparation for giving birth. Typically, back pain surfaces between the fifth and seventh months of pregnancy, although it can begin earlier, especially impacting women with existing lower back issues. 

Endometriosis, found only in females, can also lead to lower back pain. It involves tissue similar to the uterine lining growing outside the uterus, causing symptoms like painful menstrual cycles, severe abdominal pain, and chronic lower back pain. 

How to relieve lower back pain? – 18,000 monthly global searches 

Effective relief for lower back pain includes targeted exercises, proper posture, and mindful movement throughout the day. 

Poor posture is the leading cause of lower back pain, so making a conscious effort to maintain better posture can help relieve lower back pain long-term. Good posture distributes the weight of your body more evenly, reducing strain on your muscles and joints, so by practicing proper posture, you can align your spine correctly, support its natural curves, and alleviate pressure on your back muscles. 

A 2019 study suggested that certain types of low-impact exercise can improve both posture and lower back pain long-term, including yoga, Tai chi, pilates, swimming and aerobic exercise. 

Heat Pads

Use heating pads or ice packs for 15-20 minutes at a time to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. Heat has a way of melting away tension by loosening tight muscles that can be pinching nerves and causing pain. Think of it as an internal massage, easing discomfort and promoting relaxation.

Heat therapy also dilates blood vessels, bringing a rush of oxygen and healing nutrients to the sore area. This improved circulation helps reduce inflammation, a major contributor to back pain.

Most heating pads come with adjustable heat settings, allowing you to customize the intensity to your preference. Additionally, they often feature auto-shutoff functions for added safety.

Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation can help relax tense muscles and reduce stress, which may contribute to lower back pain. 

They might sound simple, but deep breathing exercises are powerhouses for pain relief. Focus on slow, diaphragmatic breaths, inhaling through your nose and expanding your belly, not your chest. Exhale slowly through pursed lips, feeling tension melt away with each breath. Try practicing this for 5-10 minutes several times a day.

Ergonomic Support

Invest in ergonomic supports such as lumbar cushions or pillows to provide additional support for your lower back while sitting or sleeping. 

The foundation of good back health is a supportive chair. Look for an ergonomic chair that offers adjustable features like lumbar support, armrests, and seat height. This allows you to customize your seating position to maintain a healthy spinal alignment, reducing strain on your back muscles.

The position of your monitor can significantly impact your posture. Your monitor should be at eye level to prevent you from hunching or straining your neck, which can lead to back pain. Adjustable monitor arms allow you to achieve the optimal viewing height.

Supportive Shoes

Cushioned Insoles on the JJ Barnes Blog
Cushioned Insoles

Wearing supportive shoes with cushioned insoles to provide support for your feet and lower back. 

The right shoes provide proper arch support, which helps distribute your weight evenly and maintain proper foot posture. This translates to a positive impact on your entire body, including your back. Flat feet or high arches can lead to imbalances that cause back pain, so having shoes that address your specific arch type is crucial.

Cushioned insoles can be a game-changer, especially for shoes that lack proper arch support or shock absorption. Insoles come in a variety of materials and shapes to address specific needs. Gel or memory foam insoles provide additional cushioning, while arch support insoles help distribute weight more evenly.

What causes lower back pain? – 14,000 monthly global searches 

Lower back pain can be caused by a number of factors, including muscle or ligament strains, bulging or ruptured disks, arthritis, osteoporosis, or sciatica. Injuries, sprains or strains to soft tissues are typically the primary culprits behind lower back pain. 

A sprain happens when a ligament is overstretched or torn, while a strain occurs when a tendon or muscle undergoes the same stress. These injuries can arise from overuse, sports activities, twisting awkwardly, or lifting heavy objects improperly. Symptoms may include swelling, tenderness, and muscle spasms. 

How to relieve neck pain? – 11,000 monthly global searches 

For mild to moderate neck pain, it is usually possible to treat symptoms at home with solutions like over-the-counter pain relievers, applying heat or ice, or stretching the neck. 

Alternatively, one simple hack to relieve neck pain fast is to sleep on the opposite side than you usually do. If you have neck pain that only affects one side of the neck, sleeping on the opposite side can relieve the pressure that may be causing the pain. 

Another unconventional way to relieve neck pain is to quit smoking. Smoking can contribute to the deterioration of cervical discs, hinder proper healing and prolong recovery from neck injuries. Therefore, quitting smoking can be beneficial for reducing neck pain and promoting overall spinal health. 

If you experience severe neck pain lasting for weeks or months, so much that it limits your head movement, consider seeing a doctor who can recommend muscle relaxants or physical therapy. 

How to get rid of neck pain? – 7,500 monthly global searches 

The daily usage of tablets and computer screens, and the recent growth in remote working has caused an outbreak in ‘tech neck’, due to people often sat for long periods of time in unfavorable positions, often putting pressure on their neck. 

Consequently, searches for ‘tech neck’ have gradually increased to their highest on record, increasing 245% since 2004. Tech neck can lead to immediate pain, stiffness, and discomfort, but also cause more detrimental issues, such as headaches, lower back pain, and even herniated discs in more serious cases (slipped or bulging discs). 

In order to prevent tech neck and get rid of neck pain altogether, try incorporating some minor changes to your daily life, such as: 

  • Position your devices at eye level to reduce the need for tilting your head downward and bending your neck. 
  • Download a posture reminder app for regular notifications. 
  • Take frequent breaks from using electronic devices. Ensure you take breaks every half-hour to alleviate tension in your neck muscles. 
  • Ensure your screen is always 20-30 inches away from your eyes. 
  • Engage in daily neck stretches and exercises to help relieve tension. 


Conquering back pain isn’t just about daytime strategies. A good night’s sleep is crucial for overall health and well-being, and the right sleeping position can make a world of difference for your back.

Remember, the “best” sleep position isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Experiment with the different options, listen to your body, and find what provides you with the most comfort and pain relief. Don’t be afraid to use pillows and props strategically to support your natural curves and maintain proper spinal alignment.

In addition to sleep position, remember the importance of a supportive mattress and a comfortable sleep environment. Make your bedroom a haven for relaxation, and prioritize a consistent sleep schedule for optimal rest.

So, dim the lights, fluff your pillows, and embrace the sleep position that ushers in a night of pain-free slumber. With a little experimentation and the knowledge you’ve gained here, you can wake up feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to conquer your day.

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