Sleeping Positions to Help With Low Back Pain

Back pain and sleeping go together like oil and water. When you are experiencing back pain, getting comfortable seems like an impossible task. Sometimes, certain positions can even begin to exacerbate your low back issue, making your recovery take longer due to poor rest. So, what can you do to fix this? Here are a few ways to position yourself in bed for optimal support!

Side Sleeping with Support

We suggest sleeping with a pillow between your knees and also keeping your neck supported with a quality pillow. Side sleeping is the most common sleeping position, but can easily become painful when your spin isn’t properly supported. Keeping a pillow between your knees, ideally memory foam, will help promote spinal alignment and minimize back pain. We highly recommend this position to our pregnant patients as carrying a baby causes a lot of stress on the lower back and this can help alleviate some of that pressure overnight.

Back Sleeping with Knee Support

When you’re on the table in our clinic, you may notice that sometimes we slide a cylindrical pillow beneath your knees. This helps relieve pressure on your spine and helps your back keep its natural curve, rather than forcing it to stay flat. You may not have this equipment at home, so you can try with an extra pillow or a rolled up towel.

The Fetal Position

Have you seen how peacefully a baby sleeps when ‘curled’ up? This fetal position is another way to help your sleep more comfortable if you are experiencing back pain, especially disc pain. Laying on your side with your knees tucked into your check can help open up the joints and minimizes bending your spine in a less natural way. Remember to keep your head and neck supported with a nice pillow.

Inclined Sleeping

If you have a bed with an adjustable base, this is a nice way to sleep. While this type of bed isn’t always affordable or feasible in a certain space, there are tools to help you achieve this position. Consider investing in a sleep wedge! This is a more economical way to get yourself into an inclined position for sleep, especially if you’re sleeping on your back. Not only is this helpful for back and neck support, but also promotes better breathing which can reduce snoring!

Of course starting with a supportive, quality mattress is a great first step, but there is more to it! You may think the position you sleep in isn’t too important as long as you’re comfortable. Unfortunately that isn’t always the case! When you sleep in a position where you keep your spine more aligned, you’re likely to get a better night’s rest and minimize pain associated with how you slept!

If you find yourself waking up in pain, first change up your position and see if you feel any relief. If you are still experiencing discomfort while sleeping or throughout the day, it is best to see our physical therapy team here at the Ambulatory Care Center in Livingston. Regular Physical therapy exercises can help keep you feeling your best and out of pain! Schedule your appointment today!

Tony is a physical therapist assistant at the Barnabas Health Ambulatory Care Center in Livingston. Tony treats patients with both orthopedic and neurological conditions, with a special interest in concussion and Parkinson's. Tony completed his BA in History and Education at Rutgers in 2010 and received his Associates of Physical Therapist Assistant at Essex County College in 2016. He recently completed LSVT Big certification and is currently working with early intervention children as a child developmental specialist. When Tony is not in the clinic, he enjoys being active, spending time with family and traveling the world.

The Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center Rehabilitation centers are open and ready to help you achieve your goals. With four locations in West Orange, Millburn and Livingston, the experienced and compassionate staff at Cooperman Barnabas Rehabilitation offers adults and children the specialized care they need to resume an active life after surgery, injury or illness. They are committed to providing patients with the most advanced services in a safe, caring and soothing environment. For high-risk patients who are unable to visit in person, telehealth is an option. Patients do not need a prescription for physical therapy services.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call 973-322-7500.