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What is the best, or better, sleeping positions that are more beneficial to your back.

Updated on December 17, 2007

Sleeping positions that Reduce Back Pain

Position yourself for less back pain

Avoid waking up with back pain. By making simple changes in your sleeping position, you can take strain off your back, avoid aggravating a backache, or both. Choose a sleeping position that feels most comfortable to you, and select a mattress, reclining chair or adjustable bed that supports you.

Sleeping on your side

Sleep on your side with your legs drawn up slightly toward your chest and a pillow between your legs. Use a full-length body pillow if you prefer.

This position may be particularly helpful if you have osteoarthritis in the spine, spinal stenosis - a narrowing in the spine - or hip pain.

Sleeping on your back

If you sleep on your back, place a pillow under your knees to help maintain the normal curve of your lower back. You might try a small, rolled towel under the small of your back for additional support. Support your neck with a pillow. This position may be helpful if you have low back pain.

Sleeping on your abdomen

Sleeping on your abdomen can be hard on your back. If you can't sleep any other way, reduce the strain on your back by placing a pillow under your pelvis and lower abdomen. Use a pillow under your head if it doesn't place too much strain on your back. If it does cause strain, try sleeping without a pillow under your head.

This position may be helpful if you have degenerative disease or a herniated disk in the central portion of your spine.

Mattresses and recliners

What you sleep on can also affect how comfortably you sleep. If adjusting your sleeping position doesn't help reduce back pain, try adjusting your sleeping surface. Mattress firmness is an individual choice. If you have chronic low back pain, you may benefit from sleeping on a medium-firm mattress. Consider trying out a medium-firm mattress before you buy. However, you may find your back pain is reduced with a softer mattress.

If you have bursitis in your hips, you may find that a foam mattress pad reduces pain. And sleeping in an adjustable bed or reclining chair that keeps your head and knees up may help with low back pain.

Sleeping Positions Slideshow

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Sleeping on Your SideSleeping on your backSleeping on your abdomenMattresses and Recliners
Sleeping on Your Side
Sleeping on Your Side
Sleeping on your back
Sleeping on your back
Sleeping on your abdomen
Sleeping on your abdomen
Mattresses and Recliners
Mattresses and Recliners


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    • profile image

      Calvin Burdick 

      4 years ago

      I sleep in my recliner because I can't sleep in a bed. If I sleep in a bed I literally can't get out of the bed in the morning without severe pain. When I sleep in my recliner I have little or no pain getting up in the morning. My physical therapist wants me to stop sleeping in my recliner but it works for me. I would love to sleep in a

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      can you substitute a fluffy cat for one of the pillow? I'll take my answer off the air.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I have degenerative spinal disc disease,that seems worse as the years go by. I use to sleep in my bed,even after I purchased a new mattress,but then the pain got so bad,that I had to quit that. I have been sleeping in my chair for the last year in a half,I get up and the back pain is almost not felt.I have a ottamon that I use for my legs.I am so gratful that this works,but just don't know how or why it does.?? I thought that sitting up would cause more pressure on the disc,but does not.I thought that lying down would rest the disc,but it makes it worse,almost unbearable to even get out of bed and just stand.. Would anyone know why this works??? Not complaining by any means,just am blessed it works... Anyone else out there with a similar situation?

    • Whitney05 profile image


      11 years ago from Georgia

      I may have to try the small pillow in the small of my back. I usually sleep with either a pillow under my legs on my back or between my legs on my side.


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