The City Mattress Blog

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What is the Best Sleeping Position for Lower Back Pain?


woman sitting on edge of bed reaches to hold lower back after experiencing lower back pain

If you suffer from lower back pain, you’re not alone. If you want to solve the problem once and for all, you’re not alone in that either! The good news is that because lower back pain is so prevalent, there is plenty of research telling you how to alleviate your symptoms. By making simple changes, like using a lumbar pillow at work and adjusting to good sleeping positions for lower back pain, you can take strain off your back and say goodbye to constant aches.

What causes lower back pain?

Before we get into fixing your back pain, it’s important to understand where it originated from in the first place. After all, you don’t want it to come back again! The Global Burden of Disease study named lower back pain the leading cause of disability across the globe. What is incredibly interesting about that designation is that most back pain isn’t caused by serious medical conditions, like Cancer or Arthritis. Instead, it’s simply brought on by strain from bad posture, awkward sleeping positions, sleeping on a bad mattress, slouching when you sit, poor technique when lifting, and other lifestyle habits.

Does my sleeping position have an effect on my lower back pain?

If some sleeping positions cause or exacerbate the issue, then there must be a best sleeping position for lower back pain, right? Yes! It should go without saying that some sleeping positions are better for waking up without back pain than others. For some people, sleeping on their back may be the best position. When you sleep on your back, your weight is evenly distributed and spread across the widest area of your body. As a result, you place less strain on your pressure points. You’re also able to get better alignment of your spine. On the contrary, when you sleep on your stomach on a mattress that isn’t supportive enough, your spine bends and “bows” the wrong way. This is the cause of many people’s lower back pain. 

Once you’re lying flat on your back, place a pillow underneath your knees and keep your spine neutral. The pillow is important because it works to keep that curve in your lower back. By far, sleeping on your stomach is the “worst.” Placing a pillow under your knees also makes it harder for you to roll over.

Will a new mattress help?

Many times, yes- buying a new orthopedic mattress (read our guide) will significantly help your lower back pain. For a lot of people, switching to a new sleeping position is easier said than done. You may try to fall asleep in one of the good sleeping positions for lower back pain, but as soon as you’re fully asleep you roll back over to your stomach and spend the rest of the night that way. This is precisely why having a supportive mattress needs to be a big part of your plan to eliminate your pain.

The right amount of back support helps you avoid any type of pain or soreness in the morning. A good mattress is one that provides support for your natural curves and the alignment of your spine. Does this mean a Firm mattress? Maybe, but maybe not. A supportive mattress doesn’t need to be hard, it just needs to be made in the right way to keep your spine aligned properly. There is no single mattress style or type that works for all people with low back pain. Find a comfortable one that works for you!

Is there anything else I should do?

Not all lower back pain is caused by a bad mattress and awkward sleeping positions, but all lower back pain is made worse by these. Another suggestion to help alleviate the problem would be to use a lumbar pillow when you drive, work, or otherwise sit for a long period of time. Soft-Tex’s Conforming Memory Foam Lumbar Support Pillow is a gel-infused memory foam pillow that is ideal for this. 

Whether from sleeping on a bad mattress, injury, work habits, a chronic condition like Osteoporosis, around 80% of the population suffers from regular or occasional back pain. In fact, about 31 million Americans are experiencing lower back pain right now. This doesn’t need to include you any longer! By adjusting yourself to sleep on your back, possibly with the help of additional pillows and an adjustable bed base, and giving your back the support it needs, you’ll be feeling much better soon.