Did you know that we sleep for a third of our life?! That’s a long time to be laying in a position which puts pressure on your back. Obviously when we’re asleep we lose consciousness and don’t really feel what’s going on in our bodies. But with so much time spent lying still, it’s no wonder that the position we sleep in could be the cause of back pain or at least making it worse.
There is no perfect position to sleep in to alleviate back pain. In fact, you should try and change up your sleeping positions if it is comfortable to do so, to avoid misalignments in the body caused by constantly rotating or putting pressure on the spine. Some positions put extra pressure on the neck, hips, lower back, knees and shoulders, and this can lead to aches and pains during the day.
How not to sleep
While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all recommended sleeping position, there is a certain way of sleeping which is known to be a back pain culprit – sleeping on your stomach. Lying down on the front of the body flattens the natural curve of the spine, putting extra strain on back muscles. Additionally, to sleep on your stomach you have to twist your neck one way or another. This rotation can cause pain in the neck and shoulders. If you find this is the only comfortable position you can fall asleep in, prop a pillow under your pelvis to give some back support.
It’s better to sleep on your back or the side of your body, but even these positions can sometimes aggravate back pain. Side sleepers should place a pillow in-between their legs and draw knees into the chest. This position can rotate the spine as you snooze, as the top leg can fall forwards and the top shoulder can droop forwards too, pulling muscles in different directions.
To protect your back when sleeping on your back, use a pillow under your knees – this can help your spine maintain its natural curve.
Find your own comfort
It’s a vicious cycle – poor sleep can lead to back pain, then you can’t get to sleep because of the discomfort, and you’re not comfortable in the recommended sleeping positions for back pain. It can be so frustrating! Do whatever you can to make yourself comfortable, including trying out new mattresses and pillows. They can make a huge difference, and you could also try using calming sounds to drift off to sleep.
If you’re having trouble sleeping because of your back pain, see your GP or a chiropractor.