The Best Sleeping Positions for Back Pain

Sleeping Position

Chronic back pain has become a world-wide epidemic. In fact, recently it was estimated that more than 100 million Americans suffer from chronic back pain. This discomfort can cause issues with nearly every aspect of life; exercise, work, driving, and, arguably the most intrusive, sleep. Good quality rest can make a huge impact on your overall health and wellbeing, so it’s crucial to do everything you can to make sure that you get it!

For those of you that already suffer from back pain, below are some of the best sleeping positions to try out. Try them out to get the sleep you need and deserve!

1.     Fetal position with a pillow between your knees:

Curl up on your side and bring your knees to your chest. Make sure to put a pillow between your knees to keep your spine, hips and pelvis aligned. This curled, side position alleviates pressure on a sore back by opening the spaces around your vertebrae. Also consider adding a small pillow below your waist if there’s a space between your skin and the mattress.

2.     On your back with a pillow under your knees:

Lying flat on your back, place a small pillow between your knees and the mattress. This helps you spread out your weight evenly, relieving some of the strain on pressure points and maintaining spinal alignment. Be sure to support your neck with a pillow as well to get the best sleep possible.

3.     On your stomach with a pillow under your pelvis:

While sleeping on your stomach could actually worsen your back pain, if it’s the only way you can sleep, there are ways to alleviate the pain. Placing a pillow under your abdomen and pelvis can help eliminate some of the pressure placed on your back. Try to avoid putting your head on a pillow if possible, however to keep your spine as straight as possible. 

Other considerations for back pain:

Other aspects of your sleeping habits could affect the pain you feel at night. Make sure the mattress you’re using is ergonomically supportive, and your pillows are memory foam. These options can work to relieve the most pressure from your aching back as possible. Just make sure to keep the pillow under your head, and not your shoulders.

Of course, there are other factors that can help you get a great nights sleep – limiting your caffeine, keeping mobile phones out of the bedroom, and having a good ‘wind down’ process in place. Like elite athletes, if you take control of your rest and recovery, and you might see your performance in the rest of your life improve!  


Declan Haplin has always maintained a strong sporting interest and has previously worked as an Academy Physiotherapist for Crystal Palace Football Club and as a Rehabilitation Coach for the Western Province Stormers Academy, on top being a strength and conditioning coach and physiotherapist for teams and associations across Asia. He is passionate about helping his patients achieve their long terms goals through identifying their weaknesses and imbalances, and developing a strategy to eradicate them.