The 5 Best Sleeping Positions for Reducing Back Pain

Best Sleeping Positions for Back Pain

If you suffer from chronic back pain, your sleep position could be aggravating your symptoms. Changing how you sleep can help reduce back pain and improve sleep quality.

In this blog post, we’ll go over the top 5 sleeping positions to relieve back pain and help you wake up feeling refreshed.

How does sleep affect back pain?

The quality and quantity of sleep can significantly impact back pain. Sleep gives your back and body time to rest and repair from the stresses of daily activity. When you don’t get enough sleep or sleep poorly, your back pain is likely to worsen. Here’s why:

  • Lack of sleep prevents your body from releasing natural anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving hormones. This causes increased inflammation which aggravates back pain.
  • Without quality REM sleep, your body cannot effectively heal damaged back tissues through cell regeneration and repair.
  • Tossing and turning due to back discomfort can keep you in light, restless stages of sleep rather than deeper, restorative stages. This exacerbates pain and fatigue.
  • Poor sleep postures like stomach sleeping strains the neck and spine, overworking already inflamed muscles, tendons, and nerves.
  • Chronic lack of sleep contributes to weight gain and obesity which further taxes the back.

Getting on a regular sleep schedule and improving sleep hygiene helps manage back pain by optimizing the body’s rest and restoration. Pay attention to sleep quality, not just duration.

Best Sleeping Positions for Back Pain

Best Sleeping Positions for Reducing Back Pain

1. Sleeping on Your Side in the Fetal Position

Sleeping on your side in a curled-up, fetal-like position is one of the best positions for back pain. It reduces pressure on your back by distributing your weight evenly. Bend your knees slightly and put a pillow between your legs to keep your spine aligned. Use a firm pillow to support your head as well.

This position reduces back pain symptoms in pregnant women and people with herniated discs, sciatica, and degenerative disc disease.

2. Sleeping on Your Back with a Pillow Under Your Knees

The back sleeping position relieves pressure on your back when done correctly. Place a pillow under your knees to maintain the natural curve of your lower spine. You can also put a rolled-up towel under your lower back for added support.

This helps open up the joints along your back to reduce pain and stiffness. Avoid this position if you have sleep apnea.

3. Sleeping on Your Side with a Body Pillow

Sleeping on your side with a body pillow between your legs provides superior support for side sleepers. The pillow extends from your head to your knees, keeping your neck, spine, hips, and legs correctly aligned.

Look for a firmer pillow that fills the space between your shoulder and knees. This position eases back pain associated with scoliosis, spinal stenosis, and facet joint dysfunction.

4. Sleeping on Your Stomach with a Thin Pillow

Stomach sleeping flattens the natural curve of your spine, but placing a thin pillow under your pelvis can help. The pillow tilts your pelvis to ease pressure on your lower back.

Avoid thicker pillows that arch your neck too far back. This position relieves back pain best if you have a swayback posture. It’s also ideal after back surgery while the incision heals.

5. Inclined Bed Therapy

Raising the head of your bed by 6 to 8 inches can work wonders for back pain. This takes the pressure off your spine to reduce inflammation and irritation. It’s especially helpful for conditions like degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, and sciatica.

Use sturdy bed risers or blocks under your bed frame. You can also try a wedge pillow under your mattress. Start at a 20 to 30-degree incline.

Additional Tips for Sleeping with Back Pain

Use a firm mattress

Choose a supportive mattress that keeps your spine properly aligned without sagging. Soft mattresses that contour poorly can twist the spine and worsen back pain. Add a firm mattress topper if your mattress is too plush.

Avoid sleeping on your stomach

Stomach sleeping arches the neck and lower back unnaturally. This strains muscles and joints. Side and back positions better support the spine’s natural curves.

Get regular exercise

Staying active improves back strength, flexibility, and posture for more comfortable sleep. But avoid intense training too close to bedtime which can exacerbate back pain.

Maintain a healthy weight

Extra weight puts more pressure on the back. Losing weight helps reduce loading and compression on the spine to ease pain.

Apply heat or ice to your back before bed

Heat dilates blood vessels to improve circulation and relax tight muscles. Cold therapy reduces inflammation and numbs sore tissues. Both can help you unwind and sleep better.


Making small tweaks to your sleeping position can yield big rewards if you suffer from chronic back pain. Finding the right position takes pressure off sore spots along your spine, allowing you to fall asleep faster and wake up more comfortably.

Experiment with these 5 top sleeping positions to determine which one brings you the greatest relief. Pay attention to your body’s signals to refine your position over time. With the right adjustments, you’ll be snoozing soundly and feeling ready to take on the day pain-free. Learn here more about sleep health and tips.


Q: What is the best sleeping position for lower back pain?

A: Sleeping on your side in the fetal position with a pillow between your knees is often the best position for relieving lower back pain. It allows the natural curvature of your spine to be maintained.

Q: Is sleeping on your stomach bad for your back?

A: Yes, stomach sleeping tends to strain the neck and arch the lower back unnaturally. It’s best to avoid this position if you have back pain. Sleep on your side or back instead.

Q: Should I put a pillow under my knees for back pain when sleeping?

A: Putting a pillow under your knees when lying on your back helps maintain the natural curve of your lower spine to relieve pressure. Just don’t elevate your knees too high.

Q: What type of mattress is best for back pain?

A: Firm mattresses that conform to the shape of your spine without sagging are ideal. Soft mattresses tend to let the back sink in, losing support. Add a firm topper or mattress pad if needed.

Q: How can I get comfortable sleeping with sciatica?

A: Sleeping on your side in a fetal position with a pillow between your legs takes the pressure off the sciatic nerve. Lying on your back with pillows under your knees brings relief too.

Q: Is it better to sleep with or without a pillow for back pain?

A: Use a pillow to keep your head and neck aligned with your spine when sleeping on your side or back. Choose a lofty pillow that fills the space between your shoulder and head.

Q: Can lumbar support pillows help relieve back pain while sleeping?

A: Yes, lumbar support pillows and rolls can help maintain the lower back’s natural curve and alignment in different sleeping positions. Place them under your lower back.

Q: Will an inclined bed help my back pain at night?

A: Sleeping at an incline between 10 to 30 degrees can take pressure off the lower back to reduce pain. This is especially helpful for herniated disc problems.

Q: What’s the best sleeping position after back surgery?

A: Sleeping on your back or side are best after back surgery to avoid putting pressure on the surgical site while it’s healing. Use pillows for extra support.