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sleep tips

How to Sleep with Lower Back Pain


Man sits up in bed in the morning after sleeping with lower back pain

Nothing ruins your day quite like battling through lower back pain. Lower back pain makes it difficult to stand up, walk, sit comfortably, work, and of course sleep. While you may feel like lower back pain sleeping is a distant dream, it is possible to get the sleep you need.

In fact, getting a full eight hours of sleep despite your back pain isn’t just recommended; it’s vital to eventually feeling better. It all has to do with what your body is doing as you slumber. You may be resting, but your body is hard at work repairing itself.  Your body needs to heal, and this healing is made possible when your body gets the deep sleep it needs. It’s a cycle you cannot afford to break. This is why learning how to sleep with lower back pain is so important. 

Common reasons for lower back pain

The lower back, where most back pain occurs, includes the five vertebrae (referred to as L1-L5) in the lumbar region and supports most of the weight of the upper body. The spaces between the vertebrae are maintained by round, rubbery pads called intervertebral discs that act like shock absorbers throughout the spinal column to cushion the bones as the body moves. Ligaments hold the vertebrae in place and tendons attach the muscles to the spinal column. If this sounds like a lot of moving pieces that all need to be in perfect condition, you’re right. This is partly why lower back pain is so common.

There are many reasons people experience lower back pain. For some, it is skeleton conditions, like Scoliosis. Others experience back pain due to trauma to the area, like a car accident or slip and fall. Your back pain could be the result of poor posture as you sit in your office chair or drive your car. Without knowing for sure why you have back pain, it will be nearly impossible to keep it from coming back.

5 sleeping tips if you are having a lower back pain

Adjust your sleeping position

Finding the best sleeping position for lower back pain doesn’t just mean sleeping on your back instead of your stomach. Many medical professionals recommend sleeping on an incline to help relieve backache. Especially for people suffering with lower back pain, sleeping on a slight incline with extra support under the knees can help to take the pressure off the spine, making it easier to sleep. What you need is an adjustable bed base. Not only will an upper body incline and elevated knees effectively support the natural curve of the spine, it can also help to stimulate blood circulation and reduce inflammation of damaged tissue. It is no wonder that sleeping on an incline is considered one of the sleeping positions for lower back pain!

Take a serious look at your mattress

If your mattress is over eight years old, cheaply-made, sagging, or lumpy, it is recommended you replace the mattress with a new, better-quality option. The right bed can make your back feel much better! Sleeping on the wrong mattress, like one that is old, lumpy, or not supportive enough can actually cause back pain or at the very least worsen back problems. The solution is to sleep on a high quality mattress! We recommend you find either a Medium or Firm mattress. If the bed is too soft, you’ll sink in and your spine won’t be properly aligned or supported.

Choose the right pillow

Your pillow goes a long way toward what position your spine is in all night long. What you’re looking for is a supportive pillow that contours to your shoulders, head, and neck. A pillow that is flat or lumpy is going to make it impossible for your spine to be in a neutral position for eight hours. One of our favorite pillow options for lower back pain sleeping is the Malouf Contour Dough Pillow. The ergonomic contour design fits the natural curves of your head, neck, and shoulders, correctly aligning your spine for comforting sleep. You can’t go wrong looking at the Pure Care SoftCell® Memory Foam Pillow or  Malouf Contour Gel Dough™ + Z™ Gel Pillow as well.

Add a mattress topper

Perhaps you love your current mattress, but feel you need a little extra comfort and support to help you break free of back pain. What you’re looking for is the best mattress topper for back pain. Buying a new mattress topper is a wonderful addition to your sleep system. It all comes down to the support your body needs while you are lying down. The right mattress topper can help relieve pressure points and support natural spinal alignment, which also contributes to reduced back pain. What you want is a topper that combines pressure relief and spinal support to help cradle the hips, without putting a strain on the spine. We carry several great choices for a mattress topper for back pain, including Thomasville’s Gellux Convoluted Gel Mattress Topper and I Love My Pillow Out Cold Copper Gel-Infused Memory Foam Mattress Topper.

Use some topical medication to help soothe the pain

If you need relief fast and can’t wait until a new mattress and pillow are delivered, there are many over-the-counter medications that bring your help quickly. There are pills, creams, and braces that may help. Talk to your doctor before taking pain relievers, and don't expect medication alone to solve your pain problem.

While you certainly want to visit your doctor and follow all of his or her advice, your body has a built-in way to heal. You need to go to sleep! When you have back pain, sleeping can be hard. It can be a vicious cycle because when you don't get enough sleep, your back pain may feel worse.

Reach out to a City Mattress Sleep Expert through our website’s chat function or stop into your nearest City Mattress location to learn how we can help you create a bed that alleviates your back pain. We know the best way to sleep with lower back pain and we want to help you achieve it!