Best Sleeping Positions to Relieve Back Pain (By Diagnosis)

Best Sleeping Positions to Relieve Back Pain (By Diagnosis)

Many people get into the habit of slumbering in one position or another. These habits can be difficult to break. However, sleeping in a spine-friendly position tailored to your diagnosis can bring dramatic pain relief. Try experimenting with different ways of resting to see which is right for you. What sleeping position is best to relieve back pain? That depends on where the discomfort is located. Another important factor is what diagnosis your Doctor has given for the cause of the pain.

Relief for General Pain

Upper Back Pain

Doctors recommend side sleeping, perhaps with a body pillow and a cushion tucked between the knees. For upper back pain it's also vital to align the neck with a pillow that's just the right thickness.

Mid-back Pain

The recommended position is also sleeping on the side. However, watch out if you rest with your knees drawn up. This may twist the spine and cause discomfort.

Lower Back Pain

Ideally you'll sleep on your side supported by a quality memory foam mattress. Sleeping on your back puts a lot of strain on the lower spine. If you must rest in this position, put a pillow under the knees to straighten out and protect the spinal column.

Pregnancy-related Back Pain

According to, the best position is sleeping on the left side. Why the left? This pose maximizes blood flow to the fetus. You can also put a supportive pillow under the curve of the stomach.

Relief for Pain-triggering Conditions

Osteoarthritis and Spinal Stenosis

Some people find relief curled on their sides in a fetal position cradled in a memory foam mattress. This position can relieve pressure and compression of the spine's joints and, in the case of Spinal Stenosis, reduce pressure on the irritated roots of the nerves. Other people prefer to sleep on an adjustable bed with head and knees elevated.


You may need to prop up your curved back to support a correct spinal position. For a thoracic spinal curve, try sleeping on the back on a firmer memory foam mattress with a rolled towel under the shoulderblades. If you're a side sleeper, put the towel under your upper ribcage. For scoliosis of the lumbar spine, sleep on the back or side with a rolled towel tucked beneath the lumbar curve. In both cases it is not recommended to sleep on your stomach.

Herniated Discs

Best sleeping positions vary. For the common paracentral disc herniation, many people prefer to sleep lying on their stomachs. A memory foam mattress with softer to medium firmness is vital to give enough support to the body. For the less common foraminal herniated disc, sleeping in the fetal position may help.

Degenerative Disc Disease

Stomach sleeping can relieve pressure on the spaces between discs, especially along the lower back area. Try sleeping with a flat pillow under your hips to increase spinal alignment.

Hip Pain and Bursitis

The hips are connected to the spine, and misalignments can trigger pain radiating throughout the lower back. Many people find relief sleeping on their sides with a pillow between their knees. Remember to invest in a soft memory foam mattress or topper to relieve pressure on the hips.

Get a Peaceful, Pain-free Night's Sleep With BedPillows

BedPillows designs and manufactures mattresses with your spine's health in mind. A mattress boasts multi-layer construction of quality memory foam. This ensures that, no matter how you prefer to sleep, every part of your body will be gently and evenly supported. A pain-free night may be just a call away, so shop today.

References & Further Reading


Edited: 09/14/2019