Better Sleep, Better You – Choosing the Right Position to Relieve Neck and Back Pain

There’s no way around it—sleeping in the 21stcentury has gotten complicated. Whether it’s the blue light of our screens keeping us up or the chime of a delivered email waking us up, sleeping well faces new challenges on several digital fronts.

The importance of a good night’s rest can’t be overstated. And even if you silence your phone, you may still wake up with back or neck pain from a less-than-ideal sleeping position.

Alabama Orthopaedic Surgeons know the harmony of restful sleep. Not every ache can be helped by a proper sleeping position, but choosing the right way to repose gives you the best chance of waking up pain-free.


Sleeping on your side

With the proper side position and the clever application of one or two pillows, you can give yourself proper alignment throughout the night and avoid any extra stress.

When we wake up with neck or back pain, it’s likely because our regular sleeping position causes additional strain on our necks. As goes the neck, so goes the back.

Additionally, putting a pillow between your knees can do wonders for the alignment of your pelvis. You should also make sure that your pillow stack isn’t too high, forcing your neck to crane up at an uncomfortable angle.

Lower back pain specifically can sometimes be mitigated by sleeping in the fetal position.


Sleeping on your back

Sleeping on your back can be the best and fastest path toward pain-free mornings. By distributing your body weight across the most surface area, we can severely reduce our chances of strain. Placing a pillow underneath your knees can also help maintain proper alignment while you sleep.

If you own, or are considering, an adjustable bed, you can also try sleeping in a reclined position.  Reclined positions create an ideal angle for long-lasting alignment throughout the night.

While a bed is always better than a chair, sleeping at a reclined angle could rapidly become your new best sleeping position.


Not on your stomach

Sleeping on your stomach is widely regarded as the most stressful sleeping position. When you sleep on your stomach, the weight of your body makes finding a neutral position for your spine nearly impossible.

Sleeping on your stomach poses an additional risk too: turning your neck to the side. By turning your neck as you sleep, you keep the spine and neck from achieving alignment throughout the night.

The strain from sleeping on your stomach can add up over days, weeks, and years, even causing serious damage. By avoiding this position, you prime yourself for the more pain-free mornings, better sleep, and more productive and happy days.


Realign and revitalize

Sleep is not a trivial event. So much depends on a proper night’s rest. By rethinking the placement (and height) of pillows, and by choosing the position with the greatest comfort-to-alignment ratio, you can revolutionize your nights.

Alabama Orthopaedic Surgeons know that changing your sleeping habits may not be easy, but just as the pain from improper positions can add up, the benefits of better habits contribute to our health and happiness over time.

Scroll to Top