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The Best And Worst Sleeping Positions For Lower Back Pain

If you have ever woken up with an achy lower back, chances are you have experienced the adverse effects of sleeping in the wrong position. Indeed, according to several studies, most back pain is not caused by serious medical conditions but by strain or stress from bad posture and awkward sleeping positions. This is mainly because sleeping position is vital to spinal alignment, and a poor sleep posture can put more pressure on your lumbar spine.

While posture is usually associated with standing and sitting, it is also crucial when lying down. A sleep posture that involves contorting, twisting, and otherwise increasing pressure on the lumbar spine can cause stiffness and pain. This pain is usually worse in the morning and may continue throughout the day. To avoid this, read on as this article enumerates the best and worst sleeping positions for lower back pain.

The Worst Sleeping Position: On Your Stomach

Many back pain specialists consider sleeping on your stomach as the worst position for your spine and lower back. This position puts the most pressure on the joints and muscles of your spine because it flattens your spine’s natural curve. Moreover, sleeping on your stomach also compels you to turn your neck, which can result in neck and upper back pain.

By sleeping on your stomach, you are forcing your torso to naturally sink deeper into the mattress due to its weight. As a consequence, your back arches, and this stretches your spine out of neutral alignment. And when your spine is misaligned, you tend to experience strain and stress, which may then lead to pains and aches upon waking up.

The Best Sleeping Positions

1. On Your Back with a Pillow Under Your Knees

For many people, sleeping on their backs may be the best position to ease lower back pain. Sleeping on your back allows your weight to be evenly distributed and spread across your body’s widest area. As a result, you put less strain and stress on your pressure points. You can also achieve better alignment of your spine as well as your internal organs.

Here is the best way to sleep on your back:

  • Lay flat on your back.

  • Put a pillow beneath your knees while keeping your spine in a neutral position. The pillow helps to maintain the curve in your lower back.

  • You may also put a rolled-up towel under your back for additional support.

2. On Your Side with a Pillow Between Your Knees

If you do not feel comfortable lying flat on your back, you can try changing over to your side. Be sure to also use a pillow between your knees because sleeping on your side alone will not make you feel better. The pillow helps to keep your spine, pelvis, and hips in the best alignment. Moreover, whether you use one pillow or more, you must avoid sleeping on the same side all the time. This can cause many problems, such as muscle imbalance and scoliosis.

Here is how you should sleep on your side:

  • Allow your left or right shoulder to touch the mattress, together with the rest of the side of your body.

  • Put a pillow between your knees.

  • If there is a gap between the mattress and your waist, try placing a small pillow in the gap for additional support.

3. On Your Side in the Fetal Position

Another back-friendly position you may want to try is to sleep on your side curled in a fetal position. This sleeping position is especially recommended for those with a herniated disc. Your discs are basically the soft cushions found between your spine’s vertebrae. Herniation occurs when a part of that disc is pushed out of its normal space, thereby causing discomfort, weakness, nerve pain, and more. By having your torso curled into a fetal position, you are essentially opening the space between the vertebrae.

To sleep on your side in the fetal position, follow these steps:

  • Start by laying on your back first and then gently roll over to your side.

  • Have your knees tucked toward your chest and slowly curl your torso toward your knees.

  • Keep in mind that you should switch sides from time to time in order to avoid any imbalances.


There is no doubt that your sleeping position has an impact on whether you wake up with back pain. Several research studies have already proven the link between lower back pain and your sleeping position. As such, if you often find yourself waking up with an achy lower back, changing the way you sleep so that your spine will have better alignment may help. Additionally, it is also best to invest in the right mattress and pillow, as they can help relieve the pain and discomfort.

Should you need a Singapore lower back pain specialist to help address your persistent back pain, Affinity Pain Clinic is here to assist you! We are a reliable pain management clinic that provides effective, evidence-based treatments for a variety of pain conditions, including neck and back pain, elbow pain, headaches, nerve pain, and musculoskeletal knee pain in Singapore. We also offer trusted treatments for common sports injuries, such as strains and sprains.

To find out more about excellent treatments, please feel free to reach out to us by filling out the contact form here.


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