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How To Sleep with Lower Back Pain

It is estimated that between 50–80% of people with chronic pain suffer from sleep problems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that about 7–19 % of adults in the United States report not getting enough rest or sleep every day.

Research from the National Institute Of Health has shown that sleep is essential for our bodies to heal and restore themselves. Sleep helps us deal with stress and reduces inflammation, while sleep deficits can lead to physical and mental health issues.

While we know how important sleep is, what do you do if low back pain is getting in the way of a good night’s rest? How do you sleep with low back pain?

Statistics show that only 37 percent of those with chronic pain, reported good or very good sleep

Who Is Getting Good Sleep?

The National Sleep Foundation data shows that only 45 percent of those with acute pain, and 37 percent of those with chronic pain, reported good or very good sleep, compared with 65% of those who experience little to no pain.

It’s a vicious cycle because, not only does pain get in the way of a good night’s rest, but not getting enough sleep can make you more sensitive to pain.

With all of this in mind we researched some of the best ways to get a great night’s sleep, even with low back pain.

Sleeping on your back is one of the healthiest positions for sleeping

Sleeping On Your Back

It’s not the most popular sleeping position. In fact, only around 10% of people sleep on their backs, but it is actually one of the healthiest positions for sleeping. Sleeping on your back allows your head, neck and spine to rest in a neutral position and takes a lot of the pressure off these areas.

Placing a small pillow under your knees can provide additional support, and helps keep the natural curve of your spine supported. The pillow is key to this position, for maximum support.

Something to note, however, is that this position can be a bad idea for those who suffer from sleep apnea, as sleeping on your back can cause your tongue to block your breathing tube. This position can also make snoring more severe.

To adopt this position:

  1. Lie flat on your back

  2. Place a pillow underneath your knees.

  3. If you would like additional support, you can place another towel under the small of your back.

LivaFortis looks at some of the best sleeping positions for low back pain, like side sleeping.

Sleeping On Your Side

Sleeping on your side is a popular sleeping position, and it is a great way to sleep if you want to prevent back and neck pain. Side sleeping is also an excellent option for those with sleep apnea, as it keeps the airways open. The only down side to this position, is that sometimes your spine might be pulled out of alignment.

To adopt this position:

  1. Arrange your pillow to support your head and neck.

  2. Pull your knees up slightly towards your chest, and place a thick pillow between them.

Sleeping on your stomach is one of the worst positions for chronic low back pain.

Sleeping On Your Stomach:

This might be one of the worst positions for sleeping, with one of the only benefits being a reduction in snoring. Stomach sleeping may put pressure on muscles and joints and lead to irritated nerves. This position may, however, help those with herniated discs or a degenerative disc disease.

To adopt this position:

  1. Lie on your stomach, in the bed.

  2. Place a very slim pillow underneath your hips and abdomen to raise your mid-section.

  3. Use a flat pillow (or even no pillow at all) and preferably keep your head turned to one side.

The Fetal position is the most popular sleeping position with over 41% of  adults choosing to sleep like this.

Sleeping In The Fetal Position

Hands down, this is the most popular sleeping position with over 41% of adults choosing to sleep like this. The fetal position is another great option for those with a tendency for snoring, but curling up too tightly can restrict breathing in your diaphragm.

Curling up in this pose is great for those with herniated discs, because it reduces bending of the spine and opens up the hips. Beware, though, if you have arthritis, as it can leave you feeling a bit sore and stiff in the morning.

To adopt this position:

  1. Gently roll onto your side.

  2. Straighten your body as much as you can, or draw the knees up to your chest until your back is straight.

  3. If desired, place an additional pillow between your knees.

  4. Make sure that your pillow is supporting your head and neck properly.


No matter what position you ultimately choose, the key thing to remember is proper alignment of your spine. Also, if you notice any gaps between your body and your bed, make sure to use pillows to fill them. The gaps can end up putting strain on your muscles and your back. You always want to make sure that you are being fully supported while you sleep.

Also, be sure to check out our Holiday Gift Guide if you want to see some of the top rated pillows to help you sleep better. There are some very unique designs out there!

LivaFortis looks at the importance of good sleep for preventing low back pain.

Sleep is one of the most important things that we can do to maintain our health, and sleep positions are a very personal choice. The great news is that with these tips, no matter what position you choose, you can get a great night’s rest.

For more tips and tricks on how to live your best life while managing your lower back pain, follow us on social media.


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