Studies show that 80% of Americans will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. Usually this common ailment is associated with daily activities such as gardening, walking or performing manual labor. One aspect of it that receives little press attention, however, is how sleeping on the wrong mattress or in the wrong position can greatly aggravate the patient’s suffering and slow their recovery time. On the other hand, a knowledge of the best sleep positions for back pain can have just the opposite effects, reducing pain and discomfort, and speeding recovery time.
The best position for back pain sufferers to use when sleeping is lying down on their side, with a pillow between the upper and lower legs. This helps to maintain the spine’s normal curvature, letting the strained muscles relax. The pillow prevents the upper leg from sliding forward and onto the mattress for support, which is bad for the back because it forces the spine to rotate. Keeping this position during the night offers the best prospects for a fast recovery from the injury.
One problem many report is of the pillow sliding out from between the legs. There are a couple of different alternatives for preventing this from occurring. Some people use pillows with adhesive straps that cinch the cushion to the leg. Unfortunately, these often come loose during the night, allowing the pillow to slide off anyway. A more effective strategy is to use several pillows to prop up the one supporting your leg. This should help keep your leg balanced. Each person is different, so experiment with several methods over the course of a week, and take note of what position you wake up in each morning to find out what works for you.
While the side position is optimal for those suffering from back pain, some people simply cannot sleep unless they are lying on their back. If this is the case, then the next best thing is for the sufferer to place a pillow directly under their knees. This will keep the legs in a bent position, which eases stress on the spine and helps the locked-up muscles to loosen. The sleeper should have their head supported as well by a firm yet comfortable cushion or pillow. Often a towel that is rolled up tightly and placed directly under the neck offers additional relief. Some may find that this pushes their jaw out uncomfortably and actually causes pain. Whether to use it or not is entirely at the discretion of the patient.
While both side and back sleepers can find positions that alleviate their spinal distress, those who prefer to sleep on their stomachs face greater challenges. Lying down on the belly causes part of the natural curve to go out of the spine, misaligning it and potentially worsening the original injury. One way to minimize this effect is to place a pillow directly under the hips and pelvic region. This will help to keep the spine in its natural curved shape. Stomach sleepers may also use a pillow under their heads, provided it doesn’t cause distress and discomfort to the back injury. If it does, they should try sleeping with their head directly on the mattress. A double pillow top mattress can come in handy in such a situation, as it offers additional cushioning.
No matter what position the sufferer falls asleep in, chances are they will move about while slumbering, possibly shifting themselves into a shape that will aggravate their injury. This is especially true if the sleeper tends to roll over onto their stomach. Some people have been able to train their bodies not to do this by sewing a tennis ball into the front of their pajamas, or other such object. The inherent discomfort makes the person shy away from lying on their belly. Trying any of these sleep positions for back pain could dramatically change the way you feel from day to day.
Here at Parklane Mattresses our goal is to not only help you with your sleep but with your overall health as well. Please let us know if you have any questions regarding sleep positions for back pain or other issues that can be helped by a comfortable, supportive mattress or pillow.