What is Your Sleeping Position Doing to Your Back?

Posted on: March 31st, 2017 by Horizon Rehab Blogger

Everyone has their preference when it comes to their sleeping position.  However, many don’t realize that the way you sleep affects your health and most importantly, your back.  Horizon Rehabilitation would like to offer tips on how to wake up with a better back.

Sleeping On Your Side

Sleeping on your side tends to end with your upper leg sliding forward to rest on the mattress, so this can cause rotation in the lower spine.  When your spine is twisted in that position for quite some time, you could wake up sore or in pain.  A way to help alleviate these issues is by using a pillow.  Place the pillow between your knees and thighs to make your spine align.  Another suggestion to help a side sleeper is to try to switch sides, either throughout the night or trying a new side every other night.  Side sleepers also need to pay attention to their mattress.  If your hips are wider than your waist, a softer mattress can accommodate the width of your pelvis and allow your spine to remain neutral, while hips and waists that are about the same size should have a harder surface to allow alignment.

Sleeping On Your Back

This is the best position for sleeping.  Sleeping on your back distributes weight across the widest surface of your body, minimizing pressure on internal organs and pressure points.  If you are having back pain with this position, try adding a foam mattress topper or positioning a pillow beneath your head and neck, but not your shoulders, to help align your spine to make you more comfortable.  Be careful not to put multiple pillows under your head because that will cause your spine to flex and bring back more problems.  Placing a small rolled towel under your lower back will also add additional support.

Sleeping On Your Abdomen

The worst position to fall asleep in due to the unnatural position of your neck is stomach sleeping.  While your neck is turned to the side for you to breathe all night, your spine is being put out of alignment.  The middle of your body is where most of your weight is, so laying on your stomach pulls your spine out of its neutral position.  If you can’t sleep any other way, place a pillow under your pelvis and lower abdomen to reduce strain.  For your neck and head, try using a thin pillow or none at all to reduce the angle of your neck.  Make sure to stretch in the mornings to put your body back into alignment and strengthen supporting muscles.


These helpful tricks can come in handy no matter what type of sleeper you are.  At Horizon Rehabilitation, we’re dedicated to helping everyone strengthen themselves to live a happier, healthier life with a variety of different services.

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