Not experiencing a good night’s sleep is horrible. It’s important to learn the best way to sleep for lower back pain.
There is nothing worse than having to drag yourself out of bed tired and run down from a lack of sleep. There are several causes for not being able to sleep. They can be physical, chemical, or emotional. In this first part of a three part article, I will focus purely on the physical causes.
To get a restful sleep, you must put your body in the most neutral position possible. What do I mean by neutral? When you put your car in neutral, all the stress is removed from the gears, it is the same for your body, you need to be in a neutral position to remove all the stress from your spine and your joints. This will make it easier to get “straight” to sleep.
Before I go into detail about the best way to sleep for lower back pain, it is important to first understand about what is normal posture when sleeping or standing. When you look at your body from the front, it is straight i.e. neutral (relaxed). In the picture below (Labeled Normal Structure), notice the shoulders and hips are level. The head is straight as well.
When you look at posture from the side, you should have 3 very important natural curves, a lordotic curve in your neck and low back, and a kyphotic curve in your mid back. These natural curves allow your ear, shoulder, hip and ankle should all be in alignment as demonstrated in the picture below (left side) in order to take stress off the joints and muscles. These normal side curves also make your spine very strong under compressive forces, saving your back from injury or spinal degeneration. This same normal standing posture is what we want to have when we are sleeping as well.
(Sleeping the wrong way creates abnormal alignment in your spine and pelvis)
So what is the best way to sleep for lower back pain? There are actually two, either on your back or on your side. The Back is first, your side is second.
If you sleep on your back, you want your body to be in the normal posture as I described earlier. So if you are one of those people who likes to use two pillows when you sleep, chances are you are pushing your head forward, which puts stress on the neck muscles, neck joints and tension on your nervous system. This can cause a condition called subluxation (misalignment of your spine). This will put more stress on the neck muscles, neck joints and tension on your nervous system. This can lead to problems like: Headaches, Neck Pain, sinus problems, Blood Pressure and much more. To fully understand subluxation go here.
A contour pillow, a pillow with a hole in the middle for you head on the other hand can be extremely beneficial for you neck, supporting your natural neck curve. I personally use this pillow
So to keep yourself neutral either on your back or your side, I suggest a scientifically designed sleep system. The mattress should allow your shoulders to recess and your pillow should be supporting your neck curve and be comfortable. Your mattress and pillow should work synergistically to align your neck and spine. I recommend a more firm bed personally, one – they tend to last longer, two – they keep your spine from sagging into the bed losing your natural curves.
*special note for side sleepers* When sleeping on your side try using a firm pillow in between yours legs – this helps to keep your upper leg from pulling your spine out of alignment, while reducing stress on your hips and lower back.
Finally, it is important I discuss sleeping on the stomach. This is unfortunately not a healthy way to sleep at all. Have you ever had your head turned for quite a while to one side while speaking to someone and noticed afterwards your neck was sore? Sleeping on your stomach requires you to turn your head all night long.
Your neck nerves, muscles and joints will not like this. It is also hard on your lower back. If you are a stomach sleeper, I suggest you start off by sleeping on your back with a pillow underneath the back of the knees to prevent you from rolling over. It might take a few nights, but soon you will have a new and healthy sleeping habit.
To recap, the best way to sleep for lower back pain is sleeping in a neutral position to take the most amount of stress off your joints. Sleep either on your side or on your back and never on your stomach. Use a pillow and bed that provides proper support.
Now you know the best way to sleep for lower back pain. I wish you all a great night’s sleep. Also, you should have regular spinal checkups from a wellness chiropractor.