When we think about orthopedic concerns such as back or neck pains, our immediate response is to try and correct our posture while we sit or stand. But there’s a third sort of posture that we seem to overlook, and it has just as much of an impact on our health as standing and sitting: our sleeping position. If you are sleeping with an incorrect posture of the body when sleeping can have a harmful impact on our spinal column — and other body parts as well.

A good sleeping posture plays an important role in keeping our back healthy. The posture we retain during sleep is maintained for several hours at a time, with the exception of a few tosses and turns throughout the night. If something in the body is crooked, twisted, or kept at an odd angle it can stay that way for a long time. The pins and needles of an ‘asleep’ limb to the misery of a middle-of-the-night leg cramp might be uncomfortable the next day as a result of an incorrect sleeping posture. And then theres your spine — your back and neck! 

If you wake up in pain that you don’t have during the day, your sleeping posture is most likely to blame. You may be exerting too much weight or strain on certain sections of your back if you’re not positioned in a way that keeps your spine straight and relaxed.

What Are the Best Sleeping Positions for Back Pain?

In general it is advices for those suffering from back pain to sleep on their back. And for optimal spine alignment, place one pillow underneath the head or neck, and also one underneath the knees. 

Sleeping Position for Upper Back Pain

If you suffer from a stiff upper back or neck, it is advices that you sleep on your back, with a thin pillow placed underneath your head and neck. Your head position should be only slightly raised so that its at a similar angle as when youre standing. A Cervical Pillow, or memory foam pillow in combination with a supportive mattress is ideal for those suffering from upper back pain. 

Sleeping Position for Lower Back Pain

If you suffer from lower back pain, and you don’t want to aggravate it when you sleep – try sleeping on your back, and elevate your knees with a wedge pillow or you can sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs. A supportive and firm mattress is also necessary. 

Your current mattress may not be supporting your spine enough, or if you use a spring mattress, some of the springs may be pushing into pressure points, and triggering pain. You might want to consider switching to a more firmer/orthopedic mattress. Or your pillow may be to blame — it could be too flat or too thick. Sleeping in discomfort is bad for both your back health and your general health — so if youre waking up with aches and pains, take this as your cue that something needs to be fixed. Talking to an expert to determine what your particular pain issues are, how your posture is contributing, and whether changing up your mattress and pillows or even your sleep habits is necessary to get you some relief.