What sleeping habits can help support my back?

Sleeping is supposed to be the most relaxing part of the day. After a long day at work or playing with the kids, nothing sounds better than lying down and drifting off for the next eight hours or so. However, it does not always work this way. Sometimes, sleeping can actually end up causing discomfort, especially for those who suffer from back pain.

Back pain while sleeping can keep you up at night, leaving you exhausted, cranky, and sore the next day. If this happens night after night, the compounding fatigue can be awful. Luckily, if this sounds like you, there are many steps that can be taken to help you sleep better, relieve your back pain, and leave you well rested each morning to attack the day ahead.

Is there a mattress firmness that is better for the back than others?

When you think about getting a better night’s sleep, one of the first things that usually comes to mind is the mattress. In general, firmer mattresses are often thought to provide the most back support during sleeping, and they can help maintain proper alignment for the spine. However, every person feels more comfortable on a different mattress.

For those with wider hips, a softer mattress may feel more comfortable as it conforms better to the body. However, if the mattress is too soft, it can lack support and cause the spine to be misaligned. The best way to determine the proper mattress is to test out a few different options so that you can ensure you are selecting the best choice for you.

Is my posture during sleeping important and what is the best position to lie in when my back hurts?

The way you position your body at night plays a huge role in back pain while sleeping. There are pros and cons to each sleeping position, but there are also steps you can take to make a certain position a little more comfortable. No matter which position you choose, having your spine, shoulders, and hips in proper alignment is key for relieving back pain.

Stomach Sleepers

Lying on your stomach can take your spine out of alignment due to the fact that your upper body and head sit above your lower back. This can place extra stress on the lower back and flatten out the curvature of the thoracic spine.

Sleeping on your stomach also requires that your head and neck be rotated to one side or the other. This can strain the muscles and vertebrae in the neck, leading to sore muscles, misaligned joints, and general tightness in the morning.

If sleeping on your stomach is the most comfortable position for you, there are a few simple modifications you can make. If you place a pillow underneath your stomach and upper hips, it can help to prevent overextension of the lower back and promote a healthier thoracic curvature. If you often experience neck pain, you can try sleeping without a pillow. This more neutral cervical spine curve could help to relieve discomfort.

Side Sleepers

Many people find that sleeping on their side is the best way to avoid back pain. If you prefer sleeping on your side, there are a few tips that can help to prevent pain due to unnecessary pressure on the spine. One trick is to sleep in the fetal position.

A common cause of back pain is disc compression in the lower back. When the lower back is overextended, it can increase this compression and cause pain. By lying in the fetal position with your knees tucked upwards toward your upper body, you can relieve the pressure in the lower back, opening up the spaces for the discs between each vertebra.

If this position is uncomfortable, you can also try sleeping on your side with your knees slightly bent and a pillow between them. This can help to keep your knees, hips, and spine in better alignment. If you find that your waist is lifted away from the mattress, you can also place a pillow underneath it to provide additional back support during sleeping.

Back Sleepers

If you prefer sleeping on your back, simply placing a pillow underneath your knees can significantly improve back pain. When you lie on your back, your body weight is usually mostly evenly distributed, preventing pressure points. However, you may feel like your lower back feels tight or compressed. By placing a pillow under the knees, you can open up the spaces between the vertebrae in the lower back and promote better spinal alignment.

Is the type of pillow important?

While you might not pay your pillow much mind, it can play a large role in sleeping comfort. No matter how you sleep, your pillow should support your neck, leaving no space between it and the mattress. In general, back sleepers often prefer a thinner pillow to prevent flexing the neck. Side sleepers usually prefer thicker, more supportive pillows, and stomach sleepers may prefer no pillow at all.


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