Small Changes To Your Sleep Position Can Have A Big Impact
If youre sleeping on your back and thats not working out, try sleeping on your side, says Dr. Smith. You could even place a pillow next to your back so if you move from your side to your back in the middle of the night, youd have a gentle reminder to stay on your side, adds Dr. Grimes. If youre a stomach sleeper and you have neck pain, try using a skinnier pillow so your neck is not turned back as much, or if youre using two pillows, use only one.
Props like a pillow or rolled-up towel can also be helpful, says Dr. Grimes. If you sleep on your back, you might get an arch in your back in that position. If thats causing pain, place a pillow or two underneath the knees, which helps with low back pressure, and/or place a little towel roll underneath the arch of the low back to support that gap.
Similarly, stomach sleepers can put a small pillow under their stomach to help create a neutral spine. These fixes mean a person can still sleep in their preferred position, but theyre not putting as much stress on the tissues in their spine throughout the night.
Relax With Breathing Techniques
Once youve gotten into the correct position on your back, it can be hard to fall asleep in an unfamiliar pose. One way to make sure you get a good nights sleep is to practice great sleep hygiene during the day. However, if you find that youre lying face-up and still struggling to doze off, practice a few breathing techniques. Exercises such as the 4-7-8 breathing method and three-part breathing technique are great ways to quiet your mind and focus on your breath .
Get The Right Mattress Support To Lay Flat
I had the worst sleep of my life when visiting my brother over Thanksgiving. He gave me his soft bed, which youd expect to be relaxing, marshmallow heaven, except my butt kept sinking like a rock in a pond.
I woke up sore and tired every morning because my lower back and leg muscles kept tensing in effort to stay afloat. I ended up on my side in the middle of the night to save myself but never again.
To this day, Id rather sleep on the floor but ideally, Id sleep on a compressed surface so my muscles arent doing all the work at night.
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Dont Sleep On A Mattress Thats Too Soft
Some people prefer mattresses that are softer than the average, but those with lower back pain need to be careful. A too-soft mattress wont be supportive enough and can lead to extra strain on your spine.
If you have a very soft mattress thats causing you pain and you cant get a more sturdy one right now, you might consider trying sleeping on the floor. It sounds odd, but a sturdy floor can actually be better than a soft mattress for those who needs the structure.
Sleep Better On Your Back
Learning how to sleep on your back the right way means taking advantage of all the benefits while learning to leave the drawbacks behind.There are a few simple things you can do to enjoy backside sleeping without any morning back pain or breathing problems.
- Pillow beneath your knees. The Mayo Clinic recommends a pillow beneath the knees for anyone who sleeps on their back. This helps keep a slight curve in your lower back and reduces the pressure on your hips.
- Low to mid-height head pillow. Dont use a super full pillow. This pushes your head and neck forward too far to keep your neck straight.
- Firm mattress. Back sleepers may also want to stick with a firm mattress. Since youre spreading out all of your body weight at once, a firm mattress can contour your body while still offering ample support.
- Extra pillows. It can be difficult to make the switch from sleeping on your stomach or side to sleeping on your back. Creating an alley of sorts with pillows flanking you helps you transition.
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Sleeping Well On Your Side
Most people sleep on their side, and its a strong choice, with two important caveats. Sleeping with your bottom arm under your pillow or your top leg stretched out can lead straight to shoulder and neck pain. Side sleep can also put pressure on your stomach and lungs, but for the most part its a safe and popular choice.
Sleeping on your side is especially good for:
Best Pillow For Sleep Problems
With these problems in mind, a change of pillow may be correct for you. There are many types of pillows out there, such as feather pillows and down pillows. However, these pillows have their own downsides. They may be susceptible to dust mites. Some are thinner pillows that offer little head and neck support. Feathers or down filling may even cause allergies to act up.
This is where an ergonomic pillow like memory foam comes in. Memory foam is hypoallergenic and breathable. Its pillowcase is even washable, so you wont have to worry about dirt, oil, or dust accumulation. You can also adjust the height of the pillow to your liking. In addition to these features, memory foam is precisely the pillow that keeps ergonomics in mind to give you a good nights sleep.
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Choose A Supportive Mattress
Keeping your spine in the proper position is one of the most important things to keep in mind if you want to learn how to sleep on your back properly. Attempting to sleep on your back on a soft and sinking mattress will cause you to wake up with aches and pains in the morning. Its important to find a mattress that is firm enough and will keep your spine aligned all night. The Casper Wave Hybrid has supportive gel pods strategically placed under your waist and lower back to help prevent sinking and keep your spine in the proper position. If you dont want to invest in a new mattress, consider buying a firm mattress topper instead.
Best Sleeping Positions For Back Pain
The best sleeping position for lower back pain is widely considered to be on your back. This position distributes the weight along the entire spine. Placing a pillow under your knees will help to maintain the natural curve of the spine.
For those who sleep on their side, placing a firm pillow between the knees helps to maintain the natural alignment of the hips, pelvis and spine. However, if you are a side sleeper, try to alternate sides. This will help to avoid muscle imbalance and perhaps even scoliosis. In addition, side sleeping in a curled-up fetal position may help those with herniated disc pain.
Lying on your stomach is considered the worst sleeping position for back pain. However, if it is difficult to change sleeping positions, place a thin pillow underneath your hips and stomach to improve the alignment of the spine.
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Types Of Lower Back Pain
There are two primary types of lower back pain: acute and chronic.
- Acute lower back pain is short-term, lasting for just a few days up to a few weeks. It is often connected to an identifiable event or injury. When acute back pain fades, there is no ongoing effect on mobility.
- Chronic lower back pain goes on for three months or longer. In many cases, it occurs without a clear link to an initial injury.
Lower back pain that starts as acute may become chronic. It is estimated that around 20% of cases of acute low back pain persist and become chronic.
Why Does My Back Hurt After Waking Up
The reason could be your sleeping position is causing your back discomfort. For example, stomach sleepers are likely to develop chronic back pain because gravity pushes their stomachs down and pulls their spines out of alignment.
However, its also possible that your mattress has lost support and is ready to be replaced. You can try sleeping elsewhere, such as on your couch, to see if you get a better nights rest. If you do, its probably time for a new mattress.
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How Sleep Position Affects Your Spine
When you think of poor posture leading to orthopedic issues like lower back pain or neck pain, standing posture or sitting position probably come to mind. But theres a third type of posture you may be forgetting, and it affects your health just as much as standing and sitting its your sleeping position.
Your bodys posture during sleep can have a negative effect on your spinal column and other body parts, too
Minus a few tosses and turns in the night, the posture we hold during sleep is sustained for several hours at a time. If something in the body is crooked, twisted, pinned under another body part, or held at a strange angle, it can stay that way for far, far longer than it would when youre awake.
As you probably know from experience, the result of an awkward sleeping posture can be painful the next day, ranging from the pins and needles of an ‘asleep’ limb to the torture of a middle-of-the-night leg cramp.
And then theres your spine your back and neck.
Why Is Back Sleeping Uncomfortable For Some
Some people find back sleeping to be uncomfortable, and they would rather sleep on their side or stomach. Sleep position choices are a matter of personal preference, but they can also result from the type of mattress and pillow a person owns.
If you have an old mattress and pillow, that might contribute to discomfort while back sleeping. Choosing a mattress that properly supports back sleeping may make this position more comfortable for you. Additionally, if your pillows are old or unsupportive, there is a good chance that your neck is not in alignment with your spine when you are lying on your back. Using a pillow ideal for back sleepers helps keep your spine aligned while you sleep.
However, back sleeping may increase pain for some sleepers. Experimenting with sleeping positions can help you find what works for you.
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Why Can’t I Fall Asleep On My Back
Anything thats not yet a habit can seem difficult. Diehard stomach or side sleepers may find that switching to a new sleeping position feels unnatural and uncomfortable at first, and they will require an adjustment period that could take weeks or months. However, for specific health reasons, resting face-up may not be the best option.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, habitual snorers and those with sleep apnea should nap on their stomachs or side because these postures are better for keeping the airways open throughout the night. The experts also say that people with gastroesophageal reflux disease should specifically lie on their left side to alleviate any acid reflux and heartburn. They warn that lying on the right side can worsen these GERD symptoms.
Remember: Alignment Is Key
No matter what position you choose, keeping proper alignment of your spine is the most important part of the equation. Focus specifically on aligning your ears, shoulders, and hips.
You may notice gaps between your body and the bed that strain your muscles and spine. You can reduce this stress by using pillows to fill the gaps.
Be careful while turning in bed. You can get out of alignment during twisting and turning motions as well. Always move your entire body together, keeping your core tight and pulled in. You may even find it helpful to bring your knees toward your chest as you roll over.
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On The Side With A Pillow Between The Knees
Lying on the side can be comfortable, but it can pull the spine out of alignment, straining the lower back.
It can be easy to correct this issue by placing a firm pillow between the knees. This raises the upper leg, restoring the natural alignment of the hips, pelvis, and spine.
To get comfortable in this position:
Anyone who usually moves from their side to their front may also want to try hugging a large pillow against their chest and stomach to help keep their back aligned.
Proven Tips To Sleep Better At Night
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A good nights sleep is just as important as regular exercise and a healthy diet.
Research shows that poor sleep has immediate negative effects on your hormones, exercise performance, and brain function (
Over the past few decades, both sleep quality and quantity has declined. In fact, many people regularly get poor sleep .
If you want to optimize your health or lose weight, getting a good nights sleep is one of the most important things you can do.
Here are 17 evidence-based tips to sleep better at night.
It affects your brain, body, and hormones, helping you stay awake and telling your body when its time to sleep .
Natural sunlight or bright light during the day helps keep your circadian rhythm healthy. This improves daytime energy, as well as nighttime sleep quality and duration .
In people with insomnia, daytime bright light exposure improved sleep quality and duration. It also reduced the time it took to fall asleep by 83% .
A similar study in older adults found that 2 hours of bright light exposure during the day increased the amount of sleep by 2 hours and sleep efficiency by 80% .
While most research involves people with severe sleep issues, daily light exposure will most likely help you even if you experience average sleep.
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How Do Sleeping Positions Affect Lower Back Pain
Another link between sleep and lower back pain is tied to how sleeping position affects spinal alignment. Although posture is typically associated with sitting and standing, its also critical when lying down.
A sleeping position that involves twisting, contorting, or otherwise putting pressure on the lumbar spine can cause pain and stiffness. This pain is often worse in the morning but may persist throughout the day.
How I Finally Trained Myself To Sleep On My Back
I’ve written about the virtues of sleeping on your back before. And I’ve tried sleeping on my backâmany, many times. But I always woke up scrunched into a ball on my side. I attributed this aversion to back-sleeping to one thing and one thing only: It was uncomfortable. But with each passing night, I woke to see the sleep wrinkle on the left side of my face growing deeper and deeper.
Not only that, but sleeping on your back is actually incredibly beneficial for spine health, and I wanted to reap the benefits. Back-sleeping creates a neutral position for your head, neck, and spine, which can relieve pressure and balance the body. Is there a method on how to sleep on your back? Sure is. Keep reading to find how I finally trained myself to do so.
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Problem #: Back + Flat = Pain
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I did a little research on this one, and the general consensus was to stretch before bed. Apparently, if your hip flexors and hamstrings are tight, it can pull your lower spine out of alignment when you lie flat. Since I sit at a desk all day, it makes sense that my hip flexors and hamstrings would be tight, so I stretched. Andâ¦ nothing. I still felt the pinch in my lower back. But most of my sources pointed to regular stretching as the solution, which, at first, I groaned at.
Oh, goodie, one more thing I have to do before bed, I thought to myself. But after five or six days, I was able to lie on my back without pain. So I’m safely and comfortably on my back, but I still manage to wake up on my side. At first, I think it’s a fluke, and I tell myself my body will get used to its new sleeping position. When that doesn’t happen, I realize it takes more than simply overcoming the discomfort and pain issues to master this skill .
Sirinarth Mekvorawut/Getty Images
Since the pillow barricade has already proven to be no match for my body’s desire to side-sleep, I tried the incline technique. I’m not sure why this worksâor even why I thought to try it in the first placeâbut I did, and it does. I create a little wedge of pillows under my head and upper torso. This keeps my upper body propped up slightly, which makes it more difficult for me to roll onto my side.
How To Sleep Better With Lower Back Pain
Getting quality sleep is an important part of recovering from lower back pain, but sleeping well may seem like a tall task when your back hurts. While theres no guaranteed way to get better sleep, certain practical tips can help:
- Find a supportive sleeping position. Ideally, you can sleep on your side, but regardless of the position, make sure your spine is well-aligned. If needed, use extra pillows for body support.
- Be careful with alcohol and caffeine. Though alcohol may help you doze off, it can throw off the quality of your sleep. As a stimulant, caffeine can make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.
- Try relaxation methods. Finding techniques to wind down can put you in the right state of mind for sleep with less focus on pain.
- Reduce potential sleep disruptions. If you inadvertently wake up at night, pain may make it harder to get back to sleep. For that reason, try to eliminate excess noise and light from your bedroom or block them out with a sleep mask or earplugs. Set your bedroom to a temperature that will be comfortable throughout the night.
Focusing on sleep hygiene can improve your sleep habits so that you can sleep better both during and after episodes of lower back pain.
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