Skip to content

Back Pain Health Center

Sleeping Easier with Back Pain

Is back pain keeping you awake? Try these seven tips for sound sleep.
Font Size
A
A
A
By
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Back pain can make it hard to get a good night's sleep. But by experimenting with a few different simple sleep strategies, you can help ease your back pain and prevent future problems.

"First you have to start off with the understanding that there is no perfect position for everybody to sleep in," says Joel M. Press, MD, medical director of the Center for Spine, Sports & Occupational Rehabilitation at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. "Generally you have to listen to your body."

Recommended Related to Back Pain

How to Wreck Your Back

For many people, back pain seems like an unavoidable discomfort. But you may have more control than you think. You can wreck your back in any number of ways, but a few major offenders stand out: Not stretching, not paying attention to your movements, and years of wear and tear, says Nick Shamie, MD, associate professor of orthopedic neurosurgery at UCLA and a spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Here are five habits that put your spine at risk and simple strategies to stop...

Read the How to Wreck Your Back article > >

Here are some sleeping tips Press recommends:

  • Put a pillow between your legs. For people with back and hip related problems, this can help take the tension off the low back and hips.

     

  • When choosing a mattress, find the hardest bed in the store and then go down a notch or two. "In general, you want to sleep on a firmer mattress," says Press, "but it doesn't have to be the firmest one."

     

  • Keep your neck neutral. Use a pillow that fills in the space between your head and shoulders and allows your neck to lie in a neutral position, not bent in one direction or the other.

     

  • Avoid using heating pads in bed. Lying with your body weight against a heating pad, even a non-electric one, increases the risk of burns to the skin.

     

  • If a pillow top or egg crate on top of the mattress makes your back feel better, feel free to use it.

     

  • Establish a good sleep routine. When you don't get enough sleep, the muscles never get a chance to relax and you won't wake up feeling refreshed.

     

  • If your back pain is still keeping you up at night, talk with your doctor about other treatment options, such as medication or physical therapy.

Reviewed on January 15, 2004

Today on WebMD

Woman holding lower back
Or is it another form of back pain?
Hand on back
Eight out of 10 us will have it. Here’s the myths vs. the facts.
 
Woman doing pilates
Good and bad exercises
acupuncture needles in woman's back
Use it to manage your pain.
 
Man with enhanced spinal column, rear view
Video
pain in brain and nerves
Slideshow
 
Chronic Pain Healtcheck
Health Check
break at desk
Article
 
Woman holding lower back
Slideshow
Weight Loss Surgery
Slideshow
 
lumbar spine
Slideshow
back pain
Article