Lower Back Pain And Sleeping – To The Rescue

Lower Back Pain And Sleeping And Neck PainIs the first sound you make in the morning a moan instead of a yawn? It’s likely that you’re familiar with lower back pain when sleeping. Back pain is an uncomfortable, painful, annoyance that can rob us of a good night’s sleep.

Something as simple as a poor sleeping position may be the underlying cause of our lower back pain. Fortunately, lower back pain can decrease by making some simple adjustments in our nightly sleep habits, in our sleep positions, in our pillows, and in our mattresses.

What Is Lower Back Pain?

Lower back pain is a universal experience almost everyone has at some point. The lower back, which starts below the rib cage, is called the lumbar region. Pain here can be intense and is one of the top causes of missed work.

One of the best ways to improve our comfort and minimize our back pain is to rethink how we get in and out of bed. Try these tips:

  • Avoid sudden jerky movements when getting in and out of bed
  • Also try not to bend forward at the waist when getting out of bed
  • When getting out of bed, roll over onto our sides and push ourselves up using our hands while swinging our legs over the side of the bed

The Best Sleeping Positions

Certain sleeping positions can place unnecessary pressure on our neck, hips, and back.

For the best sleeping positions, it is important to maintain the natural curve of the spine. We can do this by ensuring our head, shoulders, and hips are in alignment, and that our back is properly supported.

Here is a list of the best sleeping practices to support our lower backs, while minimizing the back pain and giving us the most comfort :

1. Sleeping On Our Backs With Knee Support Lower Back Pain And Sleeping on Back

The best way to ensure that our heads, shoulders, and hips are in alignment, and that our backs are properly supported is usually by sleeping on our backs because it more evenly distributes the weight of the whole body.

Many people are uncomfortable sleeping on their back, however, because it causes them to snore.

Placing a small pillow under the knees can provide additional support and help maintain the natural curve of the spine. We could even add a small pillow under the arch of our backs.

To assume this sleeping position:

  • Lie flat on our backs facing the ceiling, and avoid twisting the head sideways
  • Position a pillow to support our head and neck
  • Place a small pillow under our knees
  • For extra support, fill in any gaps between our bodies and the mattress with additional support, such as a flatter pillow beneath the lower back

2. Sleeping On Our Sides With A Pillow Between Our KneesLower Back Pain And Sleeping On Side

Although lying on our sides is a popular and comfortable sleeping position, it can pull the spine out of position, and can strain the lower back.

Correcting this is easy. When we sleep on our sides, we can simply place a firm pillow between our knees. This raises the upper leg, which restores the natural alignment of our hips, pelvis, and spine.

When sleeping on our sides, avoid using pillows that are too high or too low for our heads.

To assume this sleeping position:

  • Get into bed and carefully roll on to one side
  • Position a pillow to support the head and neck
  • Pull the knees up slightly then place a pillow between them
  • For extra support, fill in any gaps between our bodies and mattresses with more pillows, especially at the waist

3. Sleeping In The Fetal PositionLower Back Pain And Sleeping in Fetal Position

A curled-up fetal position may help those with a herniated disc. This is because lying on our sides with our knees tucked into our chests reduces bending of the spine and helps open up the joints.

To assume this sleeping position:

  • Get into bed and carefully roll onto one side
  • Position a pillow to support the head and neck
  • Draw our knees up toward our chests until our backs are relatively straight

4. Sleeping On Our Stomachs With A Pillow Under Our Stomachs

Lying on our stomach is usually considered the worst sleeping posture because it puts more strain on our spines. However, for those who struggle to sleep in another position, placing a slim pillow underneath our stomachs and hips can help improve spinal alignment and provide comfort.

Lower Back Pain And Sleeping On Stomach With Head TurnedTo assume this sleeping position:

  • Get into bed and roll on to our stomachs
  • Place a slim pillow underneath our abdomens and hips to raise the mid-section
  • Use a flatter pillow for our heads or consider sleeping without one

5. Sleeping On Our Stomachs With Our Face DownLower Back Pain And Sleeping On Stomach With Head Facing Down

Another reason sleeping on the stomach is considered bad is because the head is usually turned to one side. This twists the spine and places additional stress on the neck, shoulders, and back.

To avoid this, try lying face down. A small but firm pillow can be used to prop up the forehead, allowing room to breathe. This should be done in addition to placing a pillow under the stomach.

To assume this sleeping position:

  • Get into bed and roll onto our stomachs
  • Place a slim pillow underneath our abdomens and hips to raise the mid-section
  • Position a pillow under our foreheads to create adequate breathing space between our mouths and mattresses

6. Sleeping On Our Backs In A Reclined PositionLower Back Pain And Sleeping In Reclined Position

Sleeping in a reclined position may benefit lower back pain, particularly in people with more severe back conditions.

If significant relief is found from resting in a reclined chair, it may be worth investing in an adjustable bed that can be positioned accordingly, or a foam wedge cushion.

I’ve personally elevated the head of my bed with short 2” X 4”s and plywood placed under my mattress. It worked well for a temporary fix.

Mattress Support For Lower Back Pain

Our mattresses may be to blame for our aching backs.

A mattress should be well made, fully supportive, and comfortable. Firm mattresses are often recommended, but medium-firm may be better for people with long-term lower back pain. Lower Back Pain And Sleeping On Medium Firm Mattress

Super cushy mattresses may feel great at first, but they are not the best support for long term. Sinking too deep can cause joints to twist and the spine to come out of its natural alignment.

Body shape, size, and proportions can help determine how much support is needed. Wide hips may be better suited to a softer mattress and slim hips to a firmer one to keep the spine properly aligned.

Also, mattresses should ideally be replaced every 10 years.

Mattress Options To Think About:

  • Think about adding a memory foam mattress topper to provide additional support to the mattress if our existing mattress is starting to sag. Remember to go more on the medium-firm side rather than soft and fluffy to get that extra back support that we need.
  • Experiment with how a firmer mattress can feel by placing plywood underneath our mattresses for a few days. If we like that firmer feel, it may be time to invest in a new mattress.
  • If it’s been a while since we’ve purchased our beds, we might consider upgrading our mattresses. The mattress can lose some of its support over time, and may not be keeping our spines aligned throughout the night.

Head Pillow Support For Lower Back Pain

A head pillow should maintain the natural posture of the neck and help support the spine, which in turn relieves back pain.

Lower Back Pain And Sleeping On Gusset Pillows
Gusset pillows with 1.5 inch gusset panels for height support and comfort

Ideally, our pillows should be comfortable, adaptable to different positions, and keep its overall shape after use.

I did an extensive review for the best pillow for side sleepers, entitled, What’s The Best Pillow for Side Sleepers? – Special Gusset Design Review.

The gusset pillow that I recommend is excellent for side sleepers because of its height and gusset design, which gives that extra support in the open area between the neck and shoulders. As a result of the proper neck and shoulder support, our backs get the support they need through the proper alignment that the gusset pillow provides.

This particular gusset pillow has the features that are also wonderful for back and stomach sleepers, and it also holds its overall shape.

Pillows should be replaced ideally, every 12 to 18 months.

Pick Our Starting Sleep PositionsLower Back Pain And Sleeping In Favorite Position

It may be hard to control how we toss and turn throughout our sleep in the night, but for me, it’s worth falling asleep in my most favorite sleeping position, on my left side, with my pillows and everything already in place, making sure that my back is supported and ready for the night’s sleep.

Generally, the first part of our sleep will be the longest cycle of sleep, and we’ll feel more rested in the morning by preparing for that first part of our sleep.

Sleep Preparation For Lower Back Pain

Having healthy sleep preparation habits is often referred to as having good “sleep hygiene”.

I’ve listed 11 basic sleep preparation tips below that are excellent for those of us who have back pain.

In one of my recent articles, “Natural Cures For Insomnia – For Adults”, I also listed these same 11 sleep preparation tips in detail for people with insomnia. These are people who have a hard time getting to sleep and a hard time staying asleep on a regular basis. Feel free to read the tips detail.

  • Sleep schedule – Set a time for going to bed and for getting upLower Back Pain And Sleeping- Relaxing Before Bedtime
  • Nightly ritual – Start your sleep preparation routine 30-60 minutes before bedtime
  • Afternoon naps – If you need a nap, take it between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.
  • Daily exercise – Avoid rigorous exercise before bedtime
  • Bedroom environment – Make your bedroom a relaxing environment
  • Comfortable mattress and pillows – Sleep on a comfortable bed with comfortable pillows
  • Bright and dim light – Avoid bright lights at bedtime
  • Stimulants at night – Avoid stimulants, such as alcohol, and a heavy meal before bedtime
  • Sleep preparation, wind-down time – Do something relaxing, like a hot bath
  • Can’t Sleep – Go into another room and relax until you feel tired
  • Sleep diary – Record your sleep patterns to evaluate areas for improvement

In Summary

No matter what position we choose, keeping proper alignment of our spines is the most important part of the equation for lower back pain during sleep.

We may notice gaps between our bodies and the bed that strain our muscles and spine, but we can reduce this stress by using pillows to support those areas.

Be careful while turning in bed. Our backs can get out of alignment during twisting and turning motions. Always move our entire body together, keeping our core tight and pulled in. We may even find it helpful to bring our knees toward our chest as we roll over.

If we consistently follow these recommendations for eliminating lower back pain during sleep, our back pain will be less, and perhaps even go away, and we’ll feel much more refreshed in the mornings.

What I’ve learned from doing research for writing this post: I’m happily reminded of why I chose this topic for my website. It’s amazing to me just how important our quality of sleep is, especially when we have back pain. Back pain is not a fun thing. And if we share ways of relieving our back pain during our sleep, our whole quality of life goes up exponentially. Sleep affects everything about how well we respond to our day following our sleep.

Thank you for spending time with me here. I invite you back to learn more from these articles about your sleep, and your family’s sleep. The more knowledge we share together about improving our quality of sleep, the more capable we are in making right decisions in the sleep changes we make.

In closing, I would love to hear your experiences, and what you’ve learned about eliminating your own back pain during sleep. Feel free to leave your comments below.

‘Happy Deep Sleep’, until we meet again. Bye for now. Joanie 77 X 77

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