Most people who suffer from chronic lower back pain know that dreadful feeling all too well: a relentless ache that persists for hours. Sometimes it even radiates to other areas of the back. Unfortunately, lower back pain is exceptionally common, especially among older adults. In fact, a shocking 80% of us will experience lower back pain at some point in our lives. To make matters worse, back pain in general accounts for around 50% of work absences in the United States annually.
But just because lower back pain is common does not mean that it has to be completely unbearable. No matter what type of pain you endure, it is vital that you get adequate healing rest. This is particularly hard with lower back pain, when you find yourself grimacing every time you change positions in bed. Fortunately, adopting certain sleeping positions may alleviate your lower back pain. Read on to learn more.
1. Curl Up and Get Comfortable: Fetal Position
Even those who do not endure constant back pain likely find something notably cozy about getting in the fetal position for bed. This position can be especially soothing for those who suffer from a herniated disc. Essentially, when you lie on your side in the fetal position, the spaces between your vertebrae get the chance to breathe. This relieves pressure from the nerves in your back.
To assume the fetal position, start by crawling into bed and choosing the side on which you wish to lie. Make sure you have a soft pillow in place to support your head and neck (after all, the last thing you want is a kink in your neck AND back pain!) Finally, you should pull your knees up to your chest and allow your back to relax. The straighter it is, the better. Before you know it, you will be drifting off into an enviable slumber!
2. Slumber on Your Stomach (with a Pillow for Support)
That is right, you may not have to ditch sleeping on your stomach to save your back after all. Although it is true that sleeping on your stomach can potentially strain your neck and back, you can enjoy this comfortable position without regretting it in the morning.
The idea is simple: all you need is a pillow to cushion your lower abdomen. If you position that pillow just right, sleeping on your stomach in this manner can actually reduce some of that pressure often placed on your back.
3. The Classic Side Position (Again, with a Pillow)
Here, the devout side sleepers can feel mighty and proud. Indeed, sometimes side sleep is the best sleep. Sleeping on your back, especially when it aches so intensely, can get old fast. That said, you must go about it the right way if you want to wish that lower back pain goodbye.
Choosing to sleep on your side is not some otherworldly remedy for back pain. Rather, it is the handy pillow you place between your knees that can make all the difference. After situating the pillow and choosing your preferred side, make sure to lay your entire body into your mattress. The skin-to-bed contact will make all the difference.
A word of advice: while sleeping on your side does feel great, especially when you adopt this comfy pillow trick, make sure to switch sides every once in a while. Favoring one side over the other too often can cause more back problems down the line, including scoliosis.
4. No Need to Resist the Recline
For those who actually enjoy sleeping on your back, never fear. There is a back-saving sleep position for you, too. If you often find yourself dozing off in your favorite chair during movie night, a reclining position might be the perfect fit for you. Reclining may help lower back pain, because it allows the body to relax in an angle that reduces pressure on the spine.
If you cannot quite achieve this position in your current bed, consider looking into an adjustable bed. That way, you can experiment with different settings and find the position that makes your entire body feel just right as you sleep.
5. Back to the Back
If you want to keep that good ol’ back position but do not want to invest in an adjustable bed, no worries: just add a pillow!
This position is fairly straightforward: just lie still, your back completely flat. Then, place your favorite pillow under your knees. And–that’s it. You can close your eyes and allow your body to do the rest of the work. Many people who suffer from lower back pain favor this position because it does not require your body to strain any one part. Rather, your body distributes the strain fairly equally. As a result, your lower back, used to bearing the brunt of daily living, gets the chance to breathe.