Best Sleeping Positions for People with Back Pain

By: Dr. Michael Rimlawi, Board-Certified, Fellowship-Trained spine surgeon and founder of the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute in Dallas

Sleep is meant to be peaceful and rejuvenating, but what happens when back pain prevents this? According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, “Adults should sleep seven or more hours per night on a regular basis to promote optimal health. Getting less than seven hours of nightly sleep increases your risk of several adverse health outcomes.”

The addition of an extra pillow paired with various doctor-recommended sleep positions can help alleviate lower back pain. To help those suffering from back pain, we have mapped out a few tips to obtain a restful night’s sleep.

  1. Sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees

    Side sleepers

    Photo Credit: Can Stock Photo

    This position isn’t the key to relief, but the added pillow is. By tucking a pillow between your legs, the spine, hips and pelvis are in better alignment.

  1. Sleep on your stomach with a pillow under your lower stomach

    Adding a pillow under the stomach can take pressure off the space between your discs.

  1. Invest in a good memory foam pillow

    Many people research and research their bed but pay little attention to their pillow. Memory foam pillows molds itself around the curve of your head keeping every small bone carefully aligned.

  1. Sleep flat on your back with a pillow under your knees

    According to, this position takes stress off your pressure points and allows for better alignment of your spine and internal organs.

  1. When traveling, use a seat sleeper pillow

    Sleeping with a neck pillow

    Photo Credit: Can Stock Photo

    Travel pillows come in all shapes and sizes. Supporting your head and neck while seat sleeping is important. Check out Travel +Leisure’s 14 Best Travel Pillows for Every Type of Seat Sleeper to help find a pillow that will  keep the head from being pushed forward when you are sitting.

While sleep positions alone won’t solve back pain, making small adjustments to your sleeping style can make a big difference.

Healthy Sleep Duration

Source: American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Dr. Michael RimlawiMichael Rimlawi

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgeon, Board Certified, Fellowship-Trained

Spine Surgeon Dr. Michael Rimlawi is director and founder of the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute’s team. Dr. Rimlawi is a board-certified, fellowship-trained spine surgeon who completed unique training in both orthopedic-spine and neurosurgery-spine at the renowned University of California San Diego. Dr. Michael Rimlawi treats all aspects of spinal disease including degenerative and traumatic conditions of the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine. More than just a back doctor, he is a leader in the field of minimally invasive spine surgery and a pioneer in endoscopic laser spine surgery.

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