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5 Best Sleeping Positions For Lower Back Pain

Blog Sleep & Wellness
5 Best Sleeping Positions For Lower Back Pain

The best sleeping positions for lower back pain can go a long way in relieving your discomfort. If you deal with lower back pain, you’re far from alone.

According to a report by the Global Burden of Disease, lower back pain is considered one of the leading causes of disability in the world. But there’s good news: this kind of pain is treatable, and with good sleep hygiene habits, can be improved significantly.

Table of Contents

Sleeping well and in the proper position can have a significant impact on the overall quality of your sleep.

Here are five of the best sleeping positions for lower back pain, along with some other tips on how you can deal with this issue:

Why do some people get lower back pain?

In a study by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), lower back pain is reported to be experienced by at least 80% of Americans in their lifetime. The lower back consists of a series of interwoven structures and includes five vertebrae of the lumbar spine. Its complexity means that there are a lot of reasons you might run into back pain.

For instance, sitting with poor posture at your office desk can result in chronic pain. Lower back pain can also be a result of injuries, such as muscle sprains, or a pull when lifting a heavy object.

Your pain might also be a symptom of more serious diseases, from spinal cord cancer, sciatica, arthritis, and even kidney infections, so it’s always worth checking with your physician to locate the source of your issue.

How do you prevent lower back pain?

How do you prevent lower back pain?

When you’re trying to target lower back pain, it’s important you try and invest in the most comfortable mattress you can for your sleep. This is because your sleep position can actually help offset some of the pressure you might accumulate in your lower back, and keep you feeling well supported through your rest.

Maintaining an intentional lifestyle is also important as you’re trying to prevent lower back pain. Consistent exercise, a healthy diet, and a good sleep set-up can go a long way in relieving discomfort. You’ll also want to avoid prolonged periods of sitting, as this can work to further damage your posture.

What are the best sleep positions for lower back pain?

When you’re sleeping in the fetal position or on your stomach, you’re challenging the natural curve of your spine. Bringing awareness to your sleep positions and trying to make sure you’re able to get the rest you require is important when you’re trying to eliminate back pain.

Here are the five sleeping positions that are helpful for alleviating lower back pain:

#1 Pillow-assisted side sleeping

Side sleeping can be a comfortable alternative to sleeping on your back. Placing a pillow between your knees helps to balance the amount of pressure being distributed across your body, and keeps your hips, pelvis, and spine in better alignment.

When you’re trying to eliminate back pain, focusing on spinal alignment and sleep positions that make you feel comfortable without exacerbating your lower back is important.

#2 Fetal position

The fetal position involves keeping your knees tucked into your body as you lay on your back and gently curl your torso, and can be a great option for sleepers with lower back pain. Stomach sleepers might find the fetal position a more comfortable transition than sleeping on their backs.

If your back pain is the result of a herniated disc, this is an especially helpful sleep position.

The reason this might help with lower back pain is that herniated discs are usually caused when the discs between your vertebrae are pushed out of its normal space, resulting in nerve pain and weakness.

#3 Pillow-assisted stomach sleeping

Stomach sleeping gets a bad rep as being a poor sleeping position, but when done correctly, it can actually be one of the best sleeping positions for those who struggle with lower back pain. Use a pillow to support yourself, placing it beneath your pelvis to help offset the pressure on your back.

Stomach sleepers do risk straining their necks, so check in and see how you’re feeling before you decide whether or not you want to add a thin pillow underneath your head as well. This position will help relieve the pressure put on your discs in other sleeping positions.

#4 Pillow-assisted back sleeping

Back sleepers who are looking to relieve their pain can do so easier with the help of a pillow. Once you lay flat on your back, you can improve knee support by placing a small pillow beneath your knees.

This is the best sleeping position for back sleepers who struggle with unevenly distributed weight in their sleep. Keeping the strain off your pressure points can encourage alignment of the spine and proper protection of your internal organs.

#5 Adjustable bed-frame assisted back sleeping

When you’re a back sleeper but can’t seem to get the angle of your rest right, an adjustable bed frame can come in handy. Adjustable bed frames allow you to position yourself as comfortably as possible.

More serious disorders such as isthmic spondylolisthesis require you to reduce a lot of pressure that builds up in your spine naturally as you’re sleeping. Adjustable bed frames are designed to minimize this pressure and improve spinal alignment.

Tips to keep your back aligned while you sleep

Tips to keep your back aligned while you sleep

When you’re trying to get a good night’s sleep, it’s important you try to keep the spine neutral while keeping excess strain off your pressure points. The right sleep setup can transform your sleep routine and keep you feeling comfortable and pain-free during your sleep.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re trying to achieve pain-free sleep:

Use plenty of pillows

Be deliberate about the types of pillows you need to be using when you’re trying to avoid poor sleep. The right pillow for you is going to vary depending on your sleep position.

Back sleepers will benefit most from using memory foam pillows, while stomach sleepers are advised to sleep with thin pillows to minimize pressure to their neck. For side sleepers, a firm pillow will help keep your sleep position perfectly aligned.

It’s also worth remembering you need to switch out your pillows on a regular basis, since they can hold a lot of allergy triggers, including mold and dust mites, when they’re used over time. The lifespan of an average pillow is suggested to be around eighteen months.

Invest in an adjustable bed frame

Investing in an adjustable bed frame for your rest can really take your sleep to the next level. Adjustable bed frames allow you to customize your sleeping position for optimal levels of comfort.

They’re a great option for couples with mixed sleeping positions. If you prefer side sleeping while your partner sleeps on their back, you can both adjust the positions of your bed so that they work for you. Modern adjustable bed frames come with a whole host of features that help you level up your bedroom comfort, including massage zones, wireless remote controls, and even built-in USB ports so that you can keep your devices close.

Find the most comfortable mattress for your bedroom

Using the right mattress in your bedroom can have a transformative effect on your overall comfort level. Hybrid mattresses can be a great way to get the plushness and comfort that memory foam is known for, along with the structure and support of a more traditional coil mattress.

The versatility of hybrid mattresses makes them a great choice for sleepers who struggle with chronic pain. When picking out the best mattress for your sleeping position, you’ll want to look out specifically for beds that lie within the medium-firm range, since any softer is going to make alignment a challenge.

The best mattress companies will have extended trial periods so that you’re able to see how your body responds to your new bed before committing to your purchase. Stay away from soft mattresses, which are not as effective in providing support for your sleeping position.

Lifestyle habits to implement for better sleep

Falling asleep quickly in a sleep position that’s comfortable for you and good for your body is important when you’re trying to prevent any type of chronic pain. Maintaining a healthy sleep cycle ensures you’re able to keep a higher pain threshold than is typical, as well.

Here’s a couple of lifestyle habits to keep in mind for this:

  • Set a bedtime and keep it consistent: Though it’s relatively easy to set the same bedtime during the week, it’s much more challenging to resist the urge to sleep in on a weekend. Despite this, it’s important to remember that your body thrives on routine, and benefits greatly when given a set schedule.
  • Avoid highly caffeinated drinks before noon: Coffee, green tea, energy drinks, and other stimulants that promote your wakefulness cycle should be avoided closer to bed. The half-life of caffeine lasts for around twelve hours, which is why it’s especially important to try and avoid your midday cup of coffee if you’ve been having trouble sleeping.
  • Schedule your exercise routine for the evening: If you workout before you go to sleep, the adrenaline levels in your body, as well as your body temperature, make it much more challenging to get a good night’s sleep. This makes it challenging to wind down and get a good night’s sleep. Try and keep your workouts restricted to the early mornings or afternoons to ensure that you can focus on a more calming night routine in the evening.

Conclusion

If you struggle with lower back pain, you’re far from alone. Learning how to deal with chronic back pain properly and working out how you’re going to get a good night’s sleep despite it is all about practice, discipline, and a persistent routine. Once you identify the best sleeping positions for lower back pain, you’re going to find a good night’s rest comes to you a whole lot easier.

Frequently Asked Questions About Lower Back Pain

How long does lower back pain last?

When it comes to acute lower back pain, you can expect things to last anywhere between a few days to four weeks. More chronic lower back pain, however, can last anywhere from twelve weeks to longer.

Does your sleeping position actually matter?

It does. Not only can bad posture make your lower back pain worse, but the best sleeping positions have also been shown to improve the overall quality of your sleep. Poor sleeping postures can actually cause wrinkles, heartburn, and chronic pain in other parts of the body, such as your neck.

How should I sleep with lower back pain?

The best sleep positions for your lower back pain include side sleeping or sleeping on your back. You might also want to invest in a sleep set-up that’s tailored to your comfort - whether that’s using an adjustable bed frame to customize your sleep position or a mattress that provides sufficient support through the night.

What are some home remedies for lower back pain?

There are a few ways you can naturally ease lower back pain. Developing a daily practice of yoga and mindfulness can go a long way in easing any aches or pains you might have. Anti-inflammatory tea and heat patches are also useful to distract yourself. It’s always best to see a physician to provide medical advice for longer, chronic back pain.



Your Turn...

Are you having lower back pain? Share your thoughts in the comments. 


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Disclaimer. We love sleep and we want you to get the best sleep possible. But we do not provide medical advice. This blog is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical info, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our blog.

Certified Sleep Science Coach

Written by Teresa Francis, Certified Sleep Science Coach

Teresa Francis is a Certified Sleep Science Coach and full-time writer focused on well-being and sleep health. She’s written on a variety of topics, from what’s trending in bedroom decor to the way lifestyle influences sleep. Some of the subject areas she covers for Puffy include the best foods for better sleep, how new parents can catch up on rest, and the best way to become a morning person. Teresa has a Master’s Degree in Literature, and has always believed in the power of a good bedtime story.


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