How to Sleep with Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain can cause all sorts of disruptions to your life. Back pain is inconvenient, not to mention painful. The longer you go without treating your back pain or changing the environment that’s causing your back pain, the worse it will get. 

You deserve to live a life that’s free of lower back pain, and there are many ways to accomplish that goal. First and foremost, you need to determine what’s causing your lower back pain so you can properly treat it. 

Treatment will differ depending on how your injury occurred. For example, if you have back pain because of trauma, you may require surgery or prescription pain relievers. If you’re experiencing back pain as a result of poor posture or sleeping incorrectly, you may be able to experience relief by changing a few elements of your life. 



Types of Lower Back Pain

There are different types of low back pain, and which kind you have can affect how well you sleep and how they’re treated. 

Acute Lower Back Pain

Acute lower back refers to short-term back pain in which the symptoms only last for a few days or a few weeks. This type of back pain is usually connected to an event or injury that caused trauma to your back. 

There isn’t a lasting effect on your mobility, and the pain tends to fade without much intervention. For example, this type of pain may require a mild prescription, but you won’t require surgery or intense pain killers. These injuries are often treated at home. 

Chronic Lower Back Pain

Chronic lower back goes on for three months or longer, and it can occur without a link to an injury. You may not be able to identify exactly when the pain started. It may go away and come back without any clear explanation. 

Chronic lower back pain may also occur after trauma, most often as a result of complications. Chronic lower back pain can limit mobility and may require you to see a physical therapist or have surgery when cases are more severe. 

Causes of Lower Back Pain

There are so many different causes of lower back pain, including both acute and chronic varieties. 

Sprains and Strains

Back pain may occur because of a strain to a muscle or a ligament sprain. A sprain in the back may develop over time because of repetitive movements in the back. It can also occur all of a sudden because of an injury, or even just because you’ve moved too quickly in the wrong way. 

Common causes of strain and sprain include: 

  • Lifting a heavy object improperly
  • Sudden movements that put a lot of stress or pressure on the lower back 
  • Poor posture over an extended period of time 
  • Sports injuries

Sprains and strains usually heal with time and don’t cause any long-term pain. However, the acute pain that you experience with a strain or a sprain can be quite painful. 

Causes of Chronic Back Pain

Chronic back pain is commonly caused because of a long-term disease or condition. Chronic back pain can also be caused by continued poor posture to the point where the back is permanently damaged. The most common causes of chronic back pain include: 

  • Lumbar herniated disc 
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Facet joint dysfunction 
  • Sacroiliac joint dysfunction 
  • Spinal stenosis 
  • Spondylolisthesis 
  • Osteoarthritis 
  • Deformity 
  • Trauma 
  • Compression fractures

How Does Your Sleeping Position Affect Lower Back Pain?

Your sleeping posture is incredibly important for lower back pain. If you twist and turn in your sleep, you could cause further damage to your back. In order to protect your back while sleeping, you should keep in mind how you’re sleeping and in what position, because it can seriously affect your spinal alignment. There are multiple sleeping positions that are better for back pain than others, including: 

  • Sleeping on your back: Good news, back sleepers! If you sleep on your back (and you have a good, firm mattress), your body weight will be distributed thoroughly throughout the mattress. For extra support, a knee pillow may help. Sleeping on your back can also help to preserve the natural curve of your spine. 
  • Side sleeping: Unfortunately for all you side sleepers, this position isn’t great for back pain as it can strain and compress your back, causing further damage. 

The best way to resolve this is to use a knee pillow for extra support. With a pillow between your knees, you can comfortably sleep on your side and prevent further back pain. You can also add a small pillow or a rolled-up towel between your waist and the mattress for additional support. 

  • Sleeping in the fetal position: Sleeping in a fetal position is great for people who have herniated discs (in which a disc between the vertebra slips out of alignment), as it minimizes the bending of the spine and joints. However, you should elect to use an extra pillow for more head and neck support. 
  • Stomach sleeping: This position is not recommended (sorry, stomach sleepers), but it is improved by putting a pillow under your pelvis and hips to help retain the natural curve of the spine. 

How Your Mattress Can Cause Back Pain

If you have a mattress that doesn’t offer the best support, it could be contributing to your back pain. Mattresses that aren’t supportive (and that you sink into) can cause further damage to the back and spine, as you’re not being supported. With less support, more pressure is put on your lower back and spine. A firm or medium-firm mattress is going to be your best bet. 

A memory foam mattress is a great choice for back support, as the memory foam will contour to your body, allowing for the perfect amount of support. You could also look into a memory foam mattress topper if you're looking to stick with your current mattress. If you’re looking to increase the firmness of your mattress, you can place a plywood board between your mattress and boxspring. 

Tips for Sleeping Better With Back Pain

There are a few things that you can do before you get to bed and while you’re in bed to help prevent further damage to your back as well as to reduce pain associated with current lower back pain. Here are a few tips focusing on sleep hygiene to help you sleep easier throughout the night: 

  • Exercise during the day, stretching out your lower back. 
  • Run an essential oil diffuser in your bedroom with scents that encourage pain relief and relaxation. 
  • Skip the caffeine and other stimulants beginning several hours before bed.
  • Take a hot back before heading to bed to help soothe your back pain for a good night's sleep.  
  • Sleep with a knee pillow for added support. 
  • See a doctor when necessary for an evaluation of your pain. 
  • Sleep in one of the above-advised sleeping positions. 
  • Invest in a good, high-quality mattress that is supportive. 
  • Try gentle yoga before getting into bed. 
  • Speak with a physical therapist about the pain that you’re experiencing. They may be able to recommend specific stretches and exercises to help minimize the pain that you’re experiencing. 

How a Seat Cushion Can Help Improve Your Back Pain

Now that we’ve looked out how to reduce pain throughout the night, it’s time to think about how to reduce the pain you’re experiencing while sitting at your desk. If you have a job that requires you to sit at a desk all day long, whether in the office or at home, your back pain can become unbearable. 

To ensure comfort while sitting in your office chair, try an affordable seat cushion. We offer seat cushions with coccyx cutouts to take the pressure off of your tailbone, as well as lumbar back support cushions that help to take the pressure off your lower back and spine. 

Our cushions are made with memory foam and gel, so they’ll give you the support you need while also keeping you cool throughout the day. A seat cushion is a great way to both reduce current pain and prevent future pain. You deserve to live a comfortable life; make it happen with a seat cushion.  


Best sleeping positions | Medical News Today 

How Should You Sleep If You Have Lower Back Pain | Atlanta Spine Institute 

Common Causes of Lower Back Pain | Spine Health

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