The Ultimate Guide to Sleep Positions for Different Back Pain Types

The Ultimate Guide to Sleep Positions for Different Back Pain Types


Up to 80% of adults experience back pain at some point in their lives. To get a good night’s sleep, it’s vital to find a position that is comfortable for your back. In this guide, we look at the different types of back pain and which sleep positions are best suited to each. We also explain how posture affects managing the pain.

Before trying any new sleeping positions, it’s important to get advice from a medical professional if you have severe or persistent pain, as they may make the issue worse.


Side-sleeping is popular. It’s a must for those with lower and upper back pain. It aligns the spine in a neutral position, relieving pressure and strain from other sleep postures. But, side-sleeping might not be comfy for everyone. So, let’s check out the best way to side-sleep for different types of back pain:

Benefits of Side-Sleeping

Side-sleeping is great for those who suffer from back pain. It takes the pressure off the spine, plus you can prop yourself up with pillows for extra support. Lying on the left side is a bonus for those with acid reflux. Those with anxiety may also prefer it because it’s comforting.

Plus, side-sleeping has more benefits. It can help artery health, reduce snoring, and even improve heart health. Studies show it can decrease circulation problems.

However, if you have facet joint pain or sciatica, side-sleeping may not be best. Check with your doctor to see which sleep positions are best for your condition. Get the best night’s sleep possible!

Side-Sleeping Positions for Different Types of Back Pain

Side-sleeping is a comfy sleep position that can reduce snoring. It is also beneficial for those with back pain. However, not all side sleeping positions are equal. Different back pains may require different postures to provide the best relief.

To support the spine properly, side-sleeping relies on a few main principles:

  1. Use a pillow between your knees to realign the abdomen and hips; this helps prevent strain or injury, especially if you suffer from sciatica or lower back pain.
  2. Cushion your neck with a pillow to maintain proper alignment. This prevents snoring and neck strain and ensures a restful sleep.
  3. Adjust your body posture by raising one leg slightly. This improves sleep quality if you suffer from hip and low-back pain, since it puts extra tension on the affected muscles and helps counteract overnight stiffness or spasms.
  4. For those with upper back pain (e.g. scoliosis), use enough pillows to fill in any curves or dips along the spine. Place extra pillows behind your shoulder blades and/or under your elbow to keep these joints in an ideal resting state without extra pressure. This can reduce morning stiffness associated with upper back or shoulder tension, and alleviate symptoms from slouching during sleep.

Side-Sleeping Positions for Lower Back Pain

Side-sleeping is beneficial for those with lower back pain and is a comfy sleep position. It relieves pressure from the lower back and aligns the spine. Make sure your head and neck are in a neutral position with a pillow supporting your head. Plus, slightly bend your knees, with a pillow between them, to take pressure off your hips and lower back.

Here are some tips:

  • Place a pillow beneath your waist or abdomen while lying on one side. This eases tension off your back muscles and reduces pain.
  • Put a small pillow or rolled towel behind your lower back for extra cushioning.
  • If you have hip pain, put a support pillow between your legs. This prevents your hips from straining your lower back.
  • Put an extra pillow beneath your knees and ankle for more cushioning.

Side-sleeping can improve your spinal alignment and circulation. But if these sleep positions don’t help your low back pain after a few weeks or months, you may need further evaluation as there could be other causes for the discomfort.

Side-Sleeping Positions for Upper Back Pain

Side-sleeping can help with upper back pain. It’s important to choose the right position. Two common positions are:

  • The “Recovery Position”: Lie on your side, knees bent at 90 degrees. Bring them towards your chest. This helps your spine and back muscles be supported by proper posture as you sleep. Put a pillow between your legs and a cushion behind your neck for extra support.
  • The “Soothing Spine Side Sleep”: Layer several pillows beneath you (or use one memory foam bolster). This hugs your torso and helps reduce tension in the upper back. If needed, add a pillow between your legs for extra comfort.


Back-sleeping is a common sleep position. It can be beneficial for those with lower back pain. It keeps the spine in a neutral position, and lessens strain. It also allows a person to use a pillow to support their head, neck, and shoulders.

But, before attempting it, there are some precautions to take. Also, this position may not be healthy for some types of back pain. Let’s explore the pros and cons of back-sleeping in detail:

Benefits of Back-Sleeping

Back-sleeping is great for posture and spinal support. You’ll be in a neutral alignment and your spine can stretch freely. This gives relief to those with lower back pain, who often end up sleeping in awkward positions that can aggravate the issue.

In addition, it keeps your neck in place, reduces morning stiffness and aches, reduces snoring, and helps digestion. People with chronic acid reflux will benefit since this position won’t cause stomach acids to make their way up into the esophagus.

Many medical professionals think back-sleeping is the best for lower back pain or other spinal issues. It works with the body’s natural posture, and keeps muscles relaxed. This means less painful waking and easier breathing, leading to improved sleep quality.

Back-Sleeping Positions for Different Types of Back Pain

Back-sleeping is often suggested if you suffer from back pain. It helps keep your spine in line and reduces pressure points, leading to a better sleep.

There are different back-sleeping positions, depending on the type of pain. Here are some ideas:

  • Lower back pain? Don’t lie flat. Put a pillow under your knees or use a body pillow between your legs or around your waist. Lift one leg with an extra pillow to support your lower spine.
  • Upper or mid-back pain? Place a pillow under your torso or shoulders when sleeping on your back. This will ease tension and improve posture.
  • Side-sleepers who don’t get proper spinal alignment, put a pillow under either side of the body while back-sleeping. This can help ease twinges and encourage spinal alignment.

Try these tips to get relief from headaches or neck/back pain. Small changes can make a difference in getting restful nights and continuing regular activities during the day!

Back-Sleeping Positions for Lower Back Pain

Back-sleeping is great for lower back pain. Gravity works with your muscles instead of against them. It keeps your head, neck and spine in a neutral position.

To get the best out of back-sleeping, place a pillow underneath your knees. It reduces stress on your lumbar spine and hips. Also use a pillow that’s thick enough to fill any gap between the back rest and the nape of your neck. Put an extra pillow under one or both arms if you need extra comfort.

However, using too many pillows can interfere with getting into a deep REM sleep. So, it may be better to use a thinner pillow, or no pillow at all. That way, you can get quality restful sleep.

Back-Sleeping Positions for Upper Back Pain

Back-sleeping is great for overall health. It lessens the risk of back pain, neck pain, and snoring. But, different kinds of back aches may need different sleep postures to be comfier and healthier. For those with upper back pain, there are special positions that can relieve stress and reduce chronic pain.

When sleeping on the back with upper back ache, use a pillow to keep the neck in a neutral position. Put a medium pillow or rolled up blanket under the knees. This helps relax the lower back in a natural position while lying down. Use extra pillows around thighs or between knees if necessary.

If neck pain keeps happening when sleeping on the back with proper body posture, try another sleep posture. Side sleeping or reclining in an armchair can lessen the pressure from always elevating the head. Pillow adjustment might help too!


Stomach-sleeping is popular. Yet, it can be bad for those with back pain. It puts strain on the lower back muscles and can lead to neck pain. But, it might be helpful for certain types of back pain.

Benefits of Stomach-Sleeping

Sleeping on the tummy can have benefits for those who have back pain. It helps position the spine correctly, reducing the arch in the lower back and easing muscle tension. Placing a pillow under the stomach can offer extra support. Furthermore, it also puts your head in line with the body, reducing strain on the neck’s muscles and joints.

However, this sleep position is not suitable for everyone. It could cause shoulder discomfort or make it hard to breathe if the neck is not in the right position. It could also put pressure on certain internal organs depending on how you lie. So, it’s best to ask your doctor or physical therapist before trying this position as a way to ease pain.

Stomach-Sleeping Positions for Different Types of Back Pain

Stomach-sleeping can be great for people with back pain – if done in the right way. It reduces stress on joints, so you can sleep better. But, there’s a big difference between lying on your stomach flat and sleeping on it. The former can cause increased pressure on the lower back, leading to pain.

For those with upper back or shoulder pain, try to keep a concave stomach shape when sleeping on the stomach. Place a pillow under the hips or lower abdomen, slightly elevating this area. Those with lower back pain and sciatica should sleep with a pillow beneath their knees/lower legs. This reduces strain on the lower spine.

If you’re not sure which sleep position is best for you, talk to your doctor or physiotherapist. They’ll assess your condition and suggest lifestyle modifications. Remember, no one sleep position works for everyone. Experiment until you find what works best for you!

Stomach-Sleeping Positions for Lower Back Pain

Gettin’ some shut-eye on your belly isn’t the ideal way to go if you’re strugglin’ with lower back pain. Your neck can get strained and sore, and you can wake up with a stiff neck. Plus, it causes your lumbar spine to arch and your muscles to ache.

But if you must sleep on your tummy, here’re a few tricks to reduce the discomfort:

  1. Prop a pillow under your hips and pelvis.
  2. Put one between your arms or under each arm. Don’t rest on it, though.
  3. Slip a pillow partially under your thighs for extra support.
  4. Don’t lay flat on a mattress. Go for memory foam pillows or pads instead.
  5. Pick a soft mattress if ya can.

Stomach-Sleeping Positions for Upper Back Pain

Stomach-sleeping can be a relief for those with upper back pain. To keep the neck in line with the spine, use a thin pillow or no pillow. Placing a pillow under the abdomen and pelvis can reduce discomfort and help with proper posture. Extend the arms slightly away from the body to relieve tension from shoulders and spine muscles.

If this position is uncomfortable, alternate positioning can be used. Lying on one side, or partially on one side, can help ease strain on one area of the back. Placing a pillow between or under both legs can help with pressure points and encourage proper alignment throughout the spine. Experimenting with different angles may take time, but could result in great long-term results for those with upper back pain who want to stomach-sleep.


It’s essential to recognize that incorrect sleep postures can worsen existing back pain, cause more damage and be uncomfortable. Everyone is different, so finding the best sleep posture may involve experimentation. Your aim should be to find a position that relieves pressure from sensitive parts and ensures a good night’s rest.

There are many sleeping postures that may help relieve back pain caused by different injuries or conditions. Start by trying the typical position, then find what works for you. Pillows may also be beneficial; if needed, buy a supportive one that lines up your head, neck, shoulders and spine while you sleep. If your back pain doesn’t improve despite finding the right position, consult a doctor for advice.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

A: The best sleeping position for lower back pain is on your back with a pillow under your knees to help maintain the natural curve of your spine.

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

A: Yes, sleeping on your stomach is bad for back pain as it can cause strain on your neck and back due to the lack of support for the spine.

Q: What is the best sleeping position for neck pain?

A: The best sleeping position for neck pain is on your back or side with a pillow that supports your neck and keeps your neck and spine aligned.

Q: Can sleeping on a firm mattress help back pain?

A: Yes, sleeping on a firm mattress can help back pain as it provides more support for the spine and helps to prevent pressure points.

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

A: It depends on the type of back pain. For lower back pain, sleeping without a pillow or with a very flat pillow may be beneficial. However, for upper back and neck pain, a pillow that supports the neck is recommended.

Q: What is the worst sleeping position for back pain?

A: The worst sleeping position for back pain is on your stomach as it flattens the natural curve of the spine and can cause strain on the neck and back.

the back recovery program by alex larsson
Jane Smith is a natural health enthusiast on a mission to uncover effective methods for achieving pain-free living. Through her personal journey with chronic back pain, she has become well-versed in holistic approaches such as yoga, Pilates, and essential oils.

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