lady sleeping with back pain

8 Effective Tips for Back Pain Relief During Sleep

Wondering about "back pain relief during sleep"? You're not alone!

As a wellness coach, now deemed the "wonder worker" by my clients, I learned that mindful sleep techniques aren't only a "relaxing distraction"; they're essential for a peaceful, pain-free slumber [1]. 

In this guide, I'm thrilled to share 8 effective tips that have helped countless clients (and could help you, too!) find relief and restful sleep - ASAP!

So, keep reading to transform your nights and wake up feeling refreshed and pain-free!

Key Takeaways

  • Try a Back Brace: Using a back brace, like the STOT SPORTS Back Brace, can provide immediate relief for back pain during sleep. 
  • Opt for a Supportive Mattress: Pick a medium-firm mattress for optimal back health to maintain the natural alignment of your spine while sleeping, distribute body weight evenly, and reduce stress on pressure points.
  • Establish Consistent Sleep Habits: Develop a regular sleep schedule and create a comfortable sleep environment. Good sleep hygiene improves sleep quality!

    8 Proven Tips for Back Pain Relief During Sleep

    To curb back pain and ensure a restful night, begin with a relaxing bath, switch to a supportive pillow, and consider a back brace for alignment.

    These tips, coupled with the right mattress, gentle pre-sleep exercises, and soothing lotions, are your first steps toward tranquility.

    Let's start with the basics!

    #1 Wear a Back Brace

    Here's a tip: try sleeping with a back brace. The STOT SPORTS back brace is a solid choice. It’s designed to help with common back issues like sciatica, giving you relief while you sleep.

    It not only supports and aligns your spine, but it also corrects posture to prevent pain. Sleeping with one might sound odd, but it can be a game-changer (after a chat with your doctor, of course).

    Next, skip to this quick visual demo from Stacie!

    #2 Take A Bath

    Before bed, let's start with a soothing solution.

    In fact, a hot bath not only relaxes muscle spasms and increases blood flow but also sets the stage for a pain-free night.

    Just 15-20 minutes of soaking can make a world of difference.

    #3 Change Your Pillow

    Now, about your pillow - it might be the culprit.

    If it's too old, it's not doing your back any favors. Opt for a memory foam or water pillow to fill the gap between your head and the mattress, aligning your spine just right.

    #4 Exercise Before Bed

    Moving on to pre-bed routines - gentle back stretches or yoga.

    These exercises are fantastic for seniors and adults alike, easing stiffness and tension and promoting a posture that avoids spinal compression.

    #5 Consider Lotions for Temporary Relief

    For immediate, albeit temporary relief, turn to over-the-counter lotions.

    They can numb the pain, helping you drift off, but remember, they don't tackle the root cause and might have side effects.

    #6 Opt for a Medium-Firm Mattress

    Finally, assess your mattress. If it's sagging or too soft, it's time for a change.

    A medium-firm mattress, as studies suggest, provides optimal comfort and maintains your spine's natural alignment. A memory foam topper is also a great addition.

    #7 Adopting a Natural Curve-Friendly Sleep Position

    One key to minimizing back pain during sleep is to maintain your spine's natural curve.

    Have you tried the fetal position? It's not just comfortable; it's also perfect for keeping your spine aligned.

    Simply curl up gently, keeping your back naturally arched. It's a game-changer for many who struggle with nighttime discomfort.

    #8 Mindful Management of Sleep Deprivation

    Let's talk about getting better sleep, especially if you have back pain. If you're not sleeping well or if you have sleep problems like apnea, it's important to tackle this head-on.

    Often, just setting a regular sleep schedule or getting checked for sleep apnea can make a big difference in how well you sleep and how much your back hurts.

    It's not only about how long you sleep but also how well you sleep.

    Now, let's start solving the pain puzzle...

    How Sleep Affects Your Back: Debunking the Pain Mystery

    Nighttime back pain can spring from various sources – pregnancy woes, spinal disc issues, abnormal spinal curves, or even something as mundane as kidney stones. But what if it's night-specific?

    Often, it's the simpler things like a worn-out pillow or an old mattress playing the villains.

    If this isn't bad enough, Harvard Professor Dr. Jamison writes, “Pain can interfere with all aspects of life. [1]"

    In fact, it can sap your activity levels, wreck your sleep quality, and even lead to social isolation and depression.

    Worse, Dr. Jamison further warns that your reactions to pain, particularly stress and anxiety, can intensify your pain experience.

    Beyond this, certain medications -- predominantly opioids -- are also responsible for a grievous, lifelong pain complex to haunt you all night.

    But there's a silver lining: with the right insight and knowledge, you can attempt to tackle those nightly twinges of pain. 

    But is a long-term pain plan possible? Let's find out!

    Sleeping with Back Pain: 6 Expert-Backed Positions to Ease the Night

    Understanding the link between sleep and back pain is crucial, and it's not always easy. Specialists often stress the importance of alignment and relaxation.

    lady sleeping on the bed

    But let's learn about it all...

    #1 Side Sleeping

    Side sleeping is another spine-friendly option, particularly with a firm pillow nestled between your knees.

    This simple addition ensures your hips, pelvis, and spine stay aligned, fostering a pain-free night.

    Follow these steps:

    Step 1: Lie on your side, keeping your back straight.

    Step 2: Slide a firm pillow between your knees to keep your hips, pelvis, and spine aligned.

    Step 3: Consider using a thicker pillow for your head to maintain alignment with your body.

    Feel free to mix up which side you sleep on, which can prevent muscle imbalances. Sometimes, it's great to tweak a routine (a little bit!).

    #2 Flat on the Back

    Counterintuitively, lying flat isn't only comfortable but is also great for your back. This position distributes your weight evenly, avoiding unnecessary spinal stress. 

    Follow these steps:

    Step 1: Lie flat on your back, ensuring your body is straight.

    Step 2: Place a pillow under your knees to maintain your spine's natural curve.

    For an added boost to this posture, place a pillow under your knees.

    This little hack preserves your spine's natural curve, enhancing comfort and support.

    #3 The Fetal Position

    For those specifically struggling with lower back pain, the fetal position could be a game-changer.

    Follow these steps:

    Step 1: Start by lying flat.

    Step 2: Gently roll onto your side and bring your knees toward your chest.

    Step 3: Curl your torso, creating a 'fetal' posture.

    This posture, where you curl your knees toward your chest, creates more space between vertebrae, easing discomfort.

    Just be sure to switch sides to maintain balance. Always think twice and take proper caution!

    #4 Reclined Position

    If you're a fan of napping in a recliner (like I am), this might be your go-to sleeping position. A reclined posture eases the pressure on your spine and supports your back effectively.

    Follow these steps:

    Step 1: Find a recliner or an adjustable bed.

    Step 2: Recline back, creating an angle that feels comfortable for your back.

    Step 3: Adjust the angle to minimize pressure on your spine.

    Ironically, sleeping in a reclined position is great for reducing spinal pressure and is worth trying if you have specific conditions like sciatica.

    Better yet, sleeping in a reclined position with a gentle rocking motion can enhance the quality of your sleep, allowing more time in the restorative deep sleep phase.

    #5 Stomach Sleeping

    If you're a stomach sleeper, there's still hope.

    Usually, stomach sleeping puts a lot of pressure on your back and joints. But if you're guilty as charged, follow these steps to smoothen the experience...

    Step 1: Lie on your stomach.

    Step 2: Place a pillow under your pelvis and lower abdomen to relieve back pressure.

    Step 3: Optionally, use a flat pillow for your head to ensure proper alignment.

    These positions are starting points to ease your back pain at night.

    However, if you're still struggling with sleep due to back pain, it's wise to consult a healthcare professional for a personalized approach.

    Remember, a good night's sleep is within reach with the right posture and a bit of adjustment. Let's make those sleepless nights a thing of the past!

    #6 Elevated Leg Position

    Ever tried sleeping with your legs elevated?

    It's a hidden gem for back pain relief that's easy to overlook. Elevating your legs while sleeping can help reduce pressure on your lower back, improving circulation and reducing inflammation.

    Here's how to nail this position:

    Step 1: Lie flat on your back on a comfortable surface.

    Step 2: Use pillows or a wedge to elevate your legs. The goal is to raise your knees above the level of your heart.

    Step 3: Adjust the height to find a comfortable angle that reduces tension in your lower back.

    This position is particularly effective if you suffer from lower back pain or conditions like edema.

    It helps maintain the natural curve of your spine and can significantly improve your sleep quality. (Plus, it's a fantastic way to relax your muscles and wake up feeling refreshed!)

    Now, give the following 3 extra tips a try tonight!

    3 Extra Tips To Reduce Pain When Sleeping

    If changing sleeping positions still leaves you writhing in pain, it's time to seek professional advice.

    A specialist can pinpoint the exact cause of your discomfort and guide you toward the right solution.

    1. Try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

    Have you ever considered how your mind can influence your perception of pain?

    Well, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) might just be the tool you need for that quality sleep.

    One useful approach, he suggests, is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

    In fact, Dr. Jamison points out, "A therapy like cognitive behavioral therapy can help manage how you think and react to pain. [2]"

    While not directly curing the pain, it can significantly alter our perception of its intensity, offering relief and possibly preventing future pain episodes.

    But what if you've tried adjusting your sleep position and still find yourself tossing and turning in agony? Then, speak to a professional.

    2. Focus on Sleep Hygiene

    Finally, remember the big picture. Let's first talk about sleep habits...

    Sleep Habits

    Good sleep habits, a consistent sleep pattern, and comfortable sleep positions are essential.

    They're the foundation of a pain-free night and a more energized day. So, take a moment to assess your sleep setup. Is it supporting your body the way it should?

    If not, it's time to make some changes. After all, the right solution can transform your sleep, and a specialist can guide you there.

    Sleep Alignment

    Now, let's talk about spinal alignment and sleep hygiene. These aren't just fancy terms; they're your ticket to restful nights and pain-free days.

    Whether you're dealing with spinal stenosis, musculoskeletal pain, or the challenges of pregnancy, the right sleeping position can make a world of difference (see section above for reference!).

    Aim for a neutral position that supports your spine's natural curves. This might mean rethinking your mattress choice or opting for thicker pillows for better support.

    #3 Get a Better Bed

    Also, consider your bed. The type of bed and mattress you use can play a huge role in how well you sleep and how you feel in the morning.

    Experts at the Sleep Foundation warn that "20% of acute low back pain cases become chronic." So watch out [3]!

    Maybe a harder mattress is what you need, or perhaps an additional pillow under your knees for better alignment. It's about finding what works specifically for you.

    Got any questions? Let's get to them swiftly!


    1. How can a bath before bed help with back pain?

    A warm bath relaxes muscle spasms and boosts blood flow, setting the stage for a night without back pain. But don't make it too warm!

    2. Is a specific type of pillow recommended for back pain?

    Yes, memory foam or water pillows are ideal as they fill the gap between your head and mattress, aligning your spine effectively.

    3. Can a back brace help while sleeping?

    Absolutely! A back brace (like the STOT SPORTS back brace) supports and aligns your spine, correcting posture to prevent pain, especially with your doctor's approval.

    4. What role does mattress firmness play in back pain relief?

    The right mattress provides optimal comfort and maintains your spine's natural alignment. For best results, I recommend a medium-firm mattress.


    The journey through Tips for Back Pain Relief During Sleep was great, but let's wrap it up...

    Whether it's adopting a natural curve-friendly sleep position, managing sleep deprivation, or exploring expert-backed positions to ease the night, the goal remains the same: to wake up feeling refreshed and free from pain.

    Remember, good sleep hygiene goes beyond the hours you rest; it's about the quality of that rest, too.

    Now, don't just take my word for it – try these tips out for yourself.

    And remember to comment and tell me how much you loved my article. Here's to restful nights and pain-free days!


    1. Focus Health | The Drug Free Approach to Pain Management (Harvard Health Publishing) [Internet]. [cited 2023 Dec 7]. Available from:

    2. How to sleep well despite chronic pain [Internet]. Harvard Health. 2016 [cited 2023 Dec 7]. Available from:

    3. Suni E, Lyo J. How to Sleep with Lower Back Pain [Internet]. Sleep Foundation. 2017. Available from:

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