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How Your Sleeping Position Can Affect Your Back Pain

Sitting and standing throughout the day can cause discomfort for people who suffer chronic back pain. Reclining or sleeping may sound like the perfect solution when your back is hurting. But for many, that pain doesn’t disappear when they lie down at night.


Getting restful sleep is an essential part of wellness for everyone. But research shows that people with chronic pain get an average of 42 fewer minutes of sleep each night than people who aren’t living with ongoing pain. When you aren’t getting high-quality sleep, your quality of life quickly begins to suffer. 


At Apple Medical Centers, our focus is on helping you regain your life through effective pain management. Our expert staff is trained to diagnose and treat lower back pain, and we understand the important role sleep and your sleeping position play in how well you feel.


If you’re waking up with worsened back pain, it could be your sleep habits. Read on to find out how your sleeping position affects your back pain and how you might be able to get more restful sleep.

The link between sleeping position and back pain

Your spine consists of 33 vertebral bones, which follow four natural curves. Two forward curves are in your neck and your lower back, and two backward curves are near your shoulders and hips.


Standing generally doesn’t put strain on the natural curves of the spine. But lying down can create pressure points along your spine, particularly when you remain in one sleeping position for hours during the night. 


Pressure from your sleeping position can put strain on your spine and counteract these natural curvatures. For example, sleeping on your stomach puts strain on your neck and lower back because your head is turned and your hips sink into the mattress.


An unsupportive or worn-out mattress can also contribute to back pain, putting extra pressure on your hips and back even if you’re a side sleeper or back sleeper. Sleeping with a lot of pillows can put your head at an angle that leads to increased back and neck pain.


And being in pain often makes it hard to relax and get comfortable. Tossing and turning as you fall asleep and throughout the night contributes to lower-quality sleep. By finding a comfortable sleeping position that aligns your spine, you may begin noticing less pain and better rest.

Getting a better night’s sleep with back pain

To reduce your risk of worsening back pain and increase your chances of more restful sleep, focus on straightening your spine when you lie down. That means properly supporting your back while ensuring your head, shoulders, and hips are aligned.


Sleeping on your back with your head and neck supported by a pillow is generally best for spine health. It evenly distributes your weight without interfering with the spine’s natural curvature. Some people find that placing a pillow under their knees offers extra support and comfort.


But not everyone finds sleeping on their back comfortable, and it might make you snore. Sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees can align your spine and is a comfortable sleeping position for many. Just be sure to switch sides nightly to avoid developing a muscle imbalance. 


Sleeping on your stomach is the worst position for back pain. Not only does it cause unnecessary pressure in your lower back, but it puts strain on your neck. If you find that you’re only able to fall asleep on your stomach, place a pillow under your hips and stomach to take stress off your lower back.


If you’re struggling to find a comfortable sleeping position that doesn’t exacerbate your back pain, talk to our team at Apple Medical Centers. We can assess the cause of your pain and make recommendations to enhance your quality of sleep and help you wake up with less pain.

Call us at 423-301-9662 to learn more about our services or schedule your first consultation online today.

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