How To Sleep Comfortably When You Have Back Pain

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There is a long list of reasons why people suffer from back pain. In fact, it’s estimated that 31 million Americans suffer from back pain at any given time. So how do we find relief?

Many think lying down will solve the problem, but even then relief doesn’t always come. There’s nothing worse than trying to get comfortable in bed while fighting a backache. If you suffer from back pain, here are some tips for getting comfortable while you sleep. The goal with all of these is to keep your back in a neutral position so that you’re not flattening or rounding your back too much, which can exacerbate pain (and the underlying issues that are causing the pain).

Stomach Sleepers

The consensuses here is that you need to knock it off. This is generally agreed upon to be the worst sleeping position for back pain.

As Dr. Ariel Blackburn, a chiropractor on Johns Island in South Carolina told Lifehacker: “It’s like you’re looking over your shoulder for 8 hours.” Try adjusting to side sleeping. You may have to start slowly by placing a pillow under one side before you fall asleep, but your back will be thankful even for the slightest change.

If there’s no way you’re ever going to give up stomach sleeping, try sleeping with as thin a pillow as possible to avoid adding additional strain to your neck, and also play around with adding a pillow underneath your pelvis or stomach to help neutralize the position of your lower back.

Back Sleepers

Sleeping on your back can cause stress on the lower discs because it flattens out the natural curve of your back. In order to alleviate this pressure and imitate your back’s natural alignment, you should place a pillow under your knees. A foam wedge will also work, but the pillow is probably more readily available.

In all positions, but particularly if you sleep on your back, the quality of your mattress matters. According to WebMD, Spanish researchers studied people with long-term back pain and found that on a 10-point hard-to-soft scale, people who slept on a medium-to-firm mattress (5.6 on the scale) had less back pain than those who slept on a softer mattress.


Any woman who has ever been pregnant could probably guess the best side-sleeping trick for battling back pain. Tucking a small pillow between your legs will help your spine stay neutral. Without the pillow, your top leg can fall to the mattress, causing your pelvis to twist. Then the twisted pelvis puts pressure on your lower back throughout the night.

If the pillow trick seems to work for you, you may want to consider a full body pillow like the Leachco Snoogle, which you can wind and position around you for maximum comfort and support.

Of course, what goes without saying for all of these recommendations is that your doctor knows best. If you are fighting chronic back pain, be sure to get it checked.