Please note, we are proudly supported by our readers. The product links are referral based and if you purchase an item we make a small commission. For more information please see our disclosure page.

July 30, 2019

Best Sleeping Positions for Pain Relief

When you are in pain it can feel impossible to find a comfortable position to sleep in. Chronic neck and back pain are a common issue and your sleeping positions may not be helping. Read more to find out the worst and best possible sleep position for easing your aches and pains.

sleeping posture best for back pain

Sleeping On Your Stomach

pros cons sleeping on your stomachStomach sleepers by far suffer from the most back pain, especially around their neck and shoulders. If this is your go to sleep position, we highly suggest you switch to sleeping on your back or your side. Sleeping on your stomach is by far the worst option for anyone experiencing back pain for several reasons.

When you sleep on your stomach you have to turn your head sharply to the side while your body weight pushes against your neck and shoulders. This can cause sever neck and shoulder pain.

lower back pain caused by stomach sleepingIt can also cause issues in your lower back as well. When you sleep on your stomach you need a good amount of support under your hips to ensure your stomach does not sink into the mattress, causing your spine to bow. This bowing can cause pain in your entire back.

We would never suggest sleeping on your stomach if you’re experiencing back pain. However, if you insist on sleeping on your stomach, there are a few tips to make it less painful.

  • stomach sleeping causes painPut a pillow or rolled towel under your hips to support your back.
  • Make sure the pillows around your head are not too high.
  • Get a pillow specifically designed for stomach sleepers so you don’t have to strain your neck to the side any longer. Look for one that lets your head to look down while still allowing you to breath properly.
Benefits of Stomach Sleeping:
  • Reducing snoring and sleep apnea
Downfalls of Stomach Sleeping:
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Upper back pain
  • Bad for pregnancy
  • Poor circulation
  • Bad for breathing

Check out our favorite mattresses for stomach sleepers.

Sleeping On You Back

which sleep position is best for back painAs far as sleeping positions go, sleeping on your back is a clear winner for just about every ache and pain.

This is mostly due to the fact that with the right support, this is the prime position for proper spine alignment. In order to ensure proper spinal alignment be sure to do the following things.

Neck & Head Support –

Make sure your pillows are not stacked too high or that they are too stiff. This will make your head pitch forward and strain the base of your neck and shoulders.

Whether you choose a down filled pillow or a memory foam the key is to have a pillow that cradles your head and supports your neck.

Knee Support –

In order to align your spine properly and take pressure off of your lower back, put a pillow under your knees.

While a standard pillow or two should do the trick, you can also find special pillows create for this very purpose. The pillows created for knee support tend to be made of foam and are created in a wedge shape to replicate the natural bend in your knees.

We love the wedge pillow collection from Brentwood Homes. Click the link to see more.

Lower Back Support –

pillow good for knee supportIf you do not have a mattress that conforms and supports the curves of your body, there are ways to improvise. Try rolling a soft towel (not too thick) and position it in the small of your back. Play around with this to find the amount of support that feels just right for you. Depending on your mattress you may not need to do this at all.

This is truly the best sleeping position for optimal spine alignment. So whether you are suffering from upper back pain, neck pain, lower back pain, or if you hurt all over, sleeping on your back is likely to be the best option for you.

Back Sleeping Helps With:
  • proper back sleeping postureSciatic Pain
  • Lower Back Pain
  • Upper Back Pain
  • Neck Pain
  • Shoulder Pain
  • Spine Alignment
  • Hip pain
Downfalls of Back Sleeping:
  • Snoring

Check out our Top Mattresses For Back Pain.

Sleeping On Your Side:

Second to the sleeping position on your back, sleeping on your side is a good option for relieving back pain as well. While it is not our first choice, with the right mattress it can also align the spine properly.

side sleeping helps with back painFor all of our side sleepers we suggest putting a pillow between your knees in order to support the hips, protect your knees, and align the spine.

Sleeping on your side is best for:
  • Snoring
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Herniated Disks
  • Helps align spine
  • Neck pain
  • Sciatic pain
  • Gas pain (sleep on left side)
  • Indigestion (sleep on left side)
  • Heartburn (sleep on left side)
Side Sleeping is not good for:
  • Shoulder pain (can be okay with proper support)
  • Hip pain (can be okay with proper support)

Check out or all time top mattresses for side sleepers.

Other Aches & Pains:

Best Sleeping Position for Hip Pain –

While sleeping on your back with proper support is the best option for easing hip pain there are also options to ease pain if you are a side sleeper. Often times if you sleep on your side there are two issues that may cause hip pain.

One is when your mattress is too hard, this will push your hips up and your back out of alignment. The second is if you lack support between your legs. If you are choosing to sleep on your side we suggest that you put a pillow between your legs in order to correct spinal alignment and take pressure off of your hips.

Best Sleeping Position for Digestion and Gas –

sleep position helps with gas painThe best possible sleeping position you can pick in order to ease digestion is on your left side. Not just on your side, but specifically on your left hand side. This all comes down to our anatomy, our stomachs are positioned on our left.

If we sleep on our right side it tends to cause gastric juices to push out of your stomach causing gastronomic distress and heartburn. When you sleep on your left side it helps the stomach to digest easily and relieve heartburn.

Sleeping on your side is also helpful for easing gas pain. While you are on your side try slowly pulling your knees to your chest and then straightening them back out several times. This can help ease gas pains.

Best Sleeping Position for Snoring & Sleep Apnea –

how to sleep if you snoreWhile sleeping on your back is great for spinal alignment, it is one of the worst possible positions for snoring.

When sleeping on your back it is easier for your tongue and soft pallet to collapse causing you to snore. If you can, sleeping on your side will helps to relieve these issues.

Best Sleeping Positions for Circulation –

sleep better without back painSleeping on your side is best for overall sleep circulation. When you seep on your left hand side it will move more blood through the heart.

It can also have an added benefit of easing heartburn. Be sure your mattress is not too firm as this my cut off circulation to your hips and shoulders.

Before You Go To Bed:

yoga helps with back painIf you are experiencing aches and pains before you even get into bed, especially back pains, we have a couple suggestions for things to do before you even climb into bed.

  • Stretch – If you are experiencing back pain, remember that everything is interconnected. So even stretching your hip flexors and hamstrings can be beneficial to easing back pain. If you have stretches that a doctor has prescribed you, then we suggest doing them before bed and when you wake up.
  • soothe aches and pain with a bathYoga – This is beneficial not only because it uses a lot of stretching, but also because yoga  strengthens core muscles. Having a strong core can improve posture, balance, and can help ease back pain.
  • Bath – Taking a warm bath with epsom salts encourages inflammation to leave the body. If you take a nightly bath, not only is this a soothing and relaxing bedtime routine but it can help relax your muscles and lower inflammation in the body, allowing you to sleep better.

Back aches can be, well, a major pain. Finding the right sleeping positions for you and your body is a journey. Your most comfortable sleeping position will likely be a little different than the next person. So find what gives you the best sleep possible for you. Be sure to keep checking in with your body, as your prime sleeping position may change with time, age, and health. But with a few of these tips and tricks we hope you’ll be sleeping better soon.

If you want to revamp your bed time routine, check out How To Fix Your Sleep Schedule.