It is estimated that up to 80% will experience back pain throughout their life and 70% will experience neck pain (1). Neck and back pain can affect all aspects of life, and is just plain annoying. Since we all must sleep, let’s cover a few basic recommendations for ideal sleeping position to best support your neck and back.
It can be difficult to change how you sleep, so in this article we will cover ideal positions for side, back, and stomach sleepers. The goal of these sleeping positions is to obtain a “neutral” spine in which your spine maintains its normal curves. If you have any additional health issues or recent surgeries, ask your physical therapist or other health care provider about sleeping positions before making any changes.
Best Sleep Positions for Neck and Back Pain
Most often, sleeping on your side is ideal for proper spinal alignment. When sleeping on your side, it is important to have your neck inline with the rest of your spine. Support under the shoulder is also key. Additionally, having a pillow between your legs will keep your pelvis in a neutral position so that there is decreased stress on your lower back. If you have numbness and tingling in your arm, try not to bend your elbow underneath the head. To help support your neck, you can roll up a small towel a place it underneath your pillow under your neck.
For back sleepers, having a pillow underneath your legs will take some of the stress of your back. This helps decrease excessive curvature of the spine. Sleeping on your stomach is the least ideal position and you should attempt to gradually transition to sleeping on your side. However, if you must sleep on your stomach, place a pillow underneath your pelvis to prevent excessive curvature of the spine. Below are example pictures of ideal sleeping positions: