How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep With Lower Back Pain

Written by: Chris

Updated on:

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Want a good night’s sleep with lower back pain? Impossible, right? Wrong. There are ways, and it’s also important you do so to ensure proper rest.

The right sleeping position, mattress, posture, and activity level can all help you get a good night’s sleep, even with lower back pain. Developing healthy habits throughout both daytime and at bedtime can create the optimal conditions for proper rest.

Here, we explain how to get a good night’s sleep with lower back pain for a healthier, happier, and more comfortable you.

Healthy Habits for a Good Night’s Sleep

Close up of a person lying under the covers in bed

The average adult needs between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, but preparing for a good night’s sleep begins as soon as you open your eyes in the morning. How you wake up can have a huge impact on your lower back and its day ahead.

When you get out of bed, keep the spine neutral and avoid twisting motions as much as you can. Instead of your back and neck doing all the work, use your core muscles, legs, and arms.

During the day, focus on good posture. Doing so will alleviate lower back pain and contribute to better rest at night. Maintain awareness of your body’s alignment while sitting as well, and keep your head, shoulders, and hips in a vertical line.

When sitting for extended periods, be sure to get up and move around every 20-30 minutes. Inactivity can lead to stiffness, soreness, and loss of flexibility. Stretching can increase strength and flexibility and work to prevent lower back pain.

To help you get a good night’s sleep, we need to focus on managing your pain and stress, and also think about your sleeping environment:


Applying heat to the lower back before bed can aid injured tissue, decrease stiffness, and relieve discomfort.


Stress can be a source of back pain in itself, but can also cause sleeping difficulties on its own. Managing stress throughout the day by staying active, stretching, and taking the time to breathe will help prime your body for a good night’s rest.


Before you settle, adjust the light, ambient noise, and temperature to create a sleep-inducing atmosphere.

Finally, when you get into bed and need to change position, keep your body straight and controlled as you move. Press up with your hands to rise and move slowly and gently. This will take the work away from your back and sides.

Sleeping Positions for Lower Back Pain

A diagram of a good sleeping position

Finding the most comfortable position for your body is most important. We all have our favorites, but when you’re suffering with lower back pain there are certain things you should and shouldn’t do. Back and side sleeping are a yes, while lying on your front is ideally a no!

Both back and side sleeping are recommended to help alleviate back pain, but stomach sleeping should be avoided if possible, as it misaligns your spine. To properly support your spine and keep it in a neutral position, use pillows to prop up your legs, pelvis, or back.

If you are a side sleeper, tuck a pillow between your legs to keep the weight of the top leg from twisting the spine. If you are missing support between your stomach and the bed, try wrapping a rolled towel around your waist to fill the gap. Body pillows can also be helpful for side sleepers.

Back sleepers can place a pillow under their knees to keep the weight of the legs from arching the back. If there is not enough support for your lower back in this position, you may place a rolled towel underneath the small of your back.

While stomach sleeping is not recommended for people with lower back pain, if it is the most comfortable position for you, you may place a pillow under the lower abdomen and pelvis to keep your spine aligned.

The Best Mattress for Your Back

A happy woman lying on her comfy new mattress

Selecting the best mattress is similar to choosing the right sleeping position: it boils down to your preference. Firmness and material are the two primary options to consider.


Though firm mattresses are often the initial recommendation for back pain sufferers, a 2003 study testing the pain relief benefits of different medium and firm mattresses concluded that “medium firmness improves pain and disability among patients with chronic non-specific low-back pain” (Kovacs, Francisco et al.).

Many people with back pain find firmer surfaces to provide the support they need, but body type is important to consider as well. People with wide hips may feel more relief with a softer surface, as this will allow the body to fall into alignment, while people with narrow hips will benefit from a firmer surface.

Your mattress should support your shoulders, buttocks, and heels to ensure their proper alignment. Consider your pillow as well; it should support your head and neck, keeping them in line with the spine.


When choosing which material is best for your body, personal preference reigns. Memory foam, latex, innerspring, air, and adjustable beds are all viable options. According to a Consumer Reports survey in 2016, “people with arthritis, back pain, and neck pain were happiest when they slept on an adjustable air mattress… which lets users precisely control the firmness” (Friedman, Lauren).

As a general rule of thumb, you should consider replacing your mattress every 6 to 8 years. You may want to re-evaluate it after five years, or anytime you feel your body’s needs may have changed.


Ultimately, the most important thing a person with lower back pain can do to get a good night’s sleep is to make it a priority.

Be aware of your body’s alignment during the day and make an effort to maintain good posture. Stay mobile and in tune with your pain and stress levels. Create a relaxing environment that provides the physical support your back needs without applying pressure.

And of course, don’t forget to consult with your doctor for more personalized recommendations.

Disclaimer: The content provided on this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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