Got lower back pain? If you do, you might struggle to sleep because of that nagging pain. Tossing and turning just to find a comfortable position to fall to sleep.
Lower back pain (LBP) is prevalent, and around 8 out of 10 people will get it at some point.
If you’ve been experiencing lower back pain for some time now, then we’re guessing your sleep quality is at risk.
Even if you have the best mattress for back sleepers, other methods exist to help alleviate the pain.
Read on to learn and know how you can sleep with lower back pain and get up the next day feeling refreshed and relaxed from your sleep!
Types of Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain is classified into two: acute and chronic. Let’s elaborate:
1. Acute Lower Back Pain
Acute lower back pain lasts a few days up to a few weeks and often only last for several months. Think about the word “temporary” when you see the word acute.
This type of lower back pain is commonly caused by injuries such as strain in your spine and lower back muscles, either from overexertion or sports-related injuries.
This often goes away without special care or treatment, but if you encounter consistent sharp or severe pain, check with your GP. Or, better yet, an orthopaedic doctor specialising in bone and muscle health.
2. Chronic Lower Back Pain
Chronic lower back pain commonly lasts longer than 3 months without any improvement in symptoms. Of the two, chronic lower back pain is the most debilitating issue regarding sleep health.
This lower back pain is commonly tied to spine abnormalities such as scoliosis, kyphosis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, etc.
Chronic lower back pain is long-term, and you need the appropriate guidance and care from your GP, orthopaedic doctor, and pain management doctor.
What Causes Lower Back Pain?
Lower back pain doesn’t just knock at your door at night without reason. Here are several causes of lower back pain:
- Strain and/or Sprain
- Bone fractures
- Disc problems (such as herniated disc)
How To Sleep With Lower Back Pain?
Sleeping with lower back pain can be tricky, and training yourself to sleep on your back can be even trickier. Here are the best methods to sleep comfortably with LBP:
Method 1: Change Your Sleeping Position
Changing your sleeping position when you have lower back pain can significantly alleviate your symptoms.
Here are some helpful sleeping positions aimed at keeping your spine optimally aligned:
- Sleeping on your side with a pillow beneath your knees.
Placing a pillow beneath your knees when you sleep on your side helps align your whole body to your spine, making it more comfortable to sleep.
- Sleeping on your back in a reclined position.
If you have spondylolisthesis (the condition where your lower vertebrae slip forward to the bone beneath it), lying down in a reclined position will give your back ample support.
- Sleeping on your back with a pillow beneath your knees.
Placing a pillow underneath your knees when sleeping on your back helps alleviate the pressure point in your knees, making your lower back more comfortable.
- Sleeping on your back with a pillow beneath your tummy.
If you sleep on a firm mattress, supporting your lower back with a pillow can alleviate the pressure and weight of your body during sleep, making you comfier.
- Sleeping on your side in a fetal position.
Sleeping in a foetal position helps support the discs in your spine, making them hard to slip away at the vertebrae. In short, it can reduce pain for people with herniated discs.
Method 2: Use Pillows To Reduce Pressure In Your Lower Back
Pillows are soft and can be a great way to reduce pain in your lower back so long as you use them correctly.
To do this, you have two options:
- Put a soft pillow below your lower back area
- A soft pillow beneath your knees.
These locations are often called ‘contact points’ when sleeping. They have most of your body’s weight going through them, so soft pillows should reduce your lower back pain.
You can also invest in a memory foam pillow to support those pressure points better.
Method 3: Use An Adjustable Bed To Reduce Lower Back Pressure
You can also invest in an adjustable bed like the ones you see in a hospital. These help to reduce lower back pressure and, consequently, lower back pain.
Certain angles in an adjustable bed lower pressure in your lower spine and pelvic area, but this depends on your personal comfort level.
The secret to using an adjustable bed depends on what angle you find the most comfortable. Experiment with every angle to find the sweet spot.
Method 4: Invest In A High-Quality Mattress Topper
Mattress toppers change the overall feel of your bed, so if you want your current bed to be firm, you can choose a firm mattress topper. You can choose a soft mattress topper if you want a softer feel.
So why mattress toppers? They’re known to reduce lower back pressure, according to a study.
The main factor is comfort level when buying a mattress topper to help with your lower back pain. This is where it helps to visit a store to lie down on each mattress topper and determine whether the topper fits your desired comfort level.
How to Treat Lower Back Pain?
This question must be reserved for your GP. There are numerous causes of lower back pain, and treatment options are based on age, gender, lifestyle, and current medical conditions.
Doctors generally treat lower back pain using one or a combination of the following methods:
- Physical Therapy
- Steroid injections
- Spinal Manipulation (Chiropractic)
- Lifestyle changes
Of the following methods, surgery is mainly reserved for the most severe cases. At the same time, medications, lifestyle changes, and spinal manipulation are often the first line of treatment, considering chiropractic care is a form of alternative medicine.
Nonetheless, it’s best to always follow your doctor’s instructions so you can get better as soon as you can.
Start Eliminating LBP Whilst Sleeping
In summary, sleeping with lower back pain is indeed a daunting task. And you’ll need all the help and support from your friends, family, and doctors to go through this, especially for chronic lower back pain.
Try out the methods we’ve listed above, and feel free to use them interchangeably or try them out one by one. It depends on you. Once you feel relieved, good.
But suppose you tried all the listed methods above, and you didn’t get any reduction in pain. In that case, you should contact your GP as soon as possible to thoroughly examine your lower back. Good luck!
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. (n.d.). Back pain. MedlinePlus. Retrieved August 2, 2022, from
- Lee Yu-Chi, Lee Chih-Yun, Wang Mao-Jiun, Better combination of thickness and hardness of mattress topper for supine sleeping posture: A physiological measurements evaluation, International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, Volume 78, 2020, 102979, ISSN 0169-8141,