I usually experience back pain while I sleep. I was wondering if there is any way to prevent this. Are there specific sleeping positions that can prevent back pain? Should I use different types of beds or pillows?

  • Try strengthening the piriformis muscle. I struggle with a lower back pain for several years thinking it was caused by the mattress (because I was sportive in good health). After buying several good mattresses I finally discovered it was actually caused by the piriforme muscle. Following current physio paradigm I stretched it, which worked, but I had to do it daily. Then I discover the paradigm switch in physio: stretching is a waste of time, painful muscle must be strengthen : lie on your side, exerce a pressure on the knee that is above while spreading and tighten your knees.
    – JinSnow
    Dec 1 '21 at 8:38

I have had back pain (mid to upper) as well as related pain issues for a few years now. I cannot sleep without some sort of lumbar support any more, and I have a pillow I use every night.

I previously used to roll up a small-ish towel and place it directly under my back for lumbar support, I did this for several years. I have since moved on to pillows dedicated to this use case (NOT affiliate links):

This is what has helped me, but of course, YMMV.


I think it's worth mentioning, that the mattress you use should fit your sleeping position - as well as your cushion.

The way you sleep (back, side, belly) influences the need for individual support or softness in the different areas of your body. For example, people (esp. women) who sleep on their stomach and use a mattress that is too soft in the belly region, often experience backpain, because the lower back is in a hyper-lordothic position (sorry if the term is not correct, I'm not a native-speaker - I think hollow-back is also a word for it). Also those people shouldn't use a cushion, that is too high for the same reason. So every sleeping position has special problems and individual needs.

If your sleep is not relaxing, it impairs your quality of life. If you already experience pain, your body signals you to change something. As a physical therapist I'd recommend you to get informed in a local store, that sells mattresses and maybe is into health and fitness stuff.

Furthermore you can start doing sports like yoga, pilates, muscle training (core stability) to further improve your health and prevent increasing pain.

  • 1
    Welcome to Health Stack Exchange! Thank you for your post however adding links and research adds to quality and support of your works. If you would add those that would be appreciated. Thanks.
    – Pobrecita
    Apr 27 '16 at 19:04
  • Hallo. Thanks I appreciate your feedback and understand the need for proper scientific resources. But this knowledge comes from my training as physical therapist and work experience, so I can't provide any research - sorry! Apr 27 '16 at 19:06
  • I see, however maybe you could try to find some research that agrees with you. This site does not except personal references.
    – Pobrecita
    Apr 27 '16 at 19:07
  • Hm...since I'm not a native speaker nor very experienced with scientific Research in the medical field, this is quite a task! But I can delete my answer?! Apr 27 '16 at 19:09
  • Welcome to health SE :-). Without going into a specific topic (avoiding back pain) for me the easiest way to find scientific references is by using Google Scholar, and you can also check out the meta post: What are reliable sources? which offers some suggestions where to look. You can always delete your answer, but it would be better if you try to edit it. Looking up references would benefit you too :-).
    – Lucky
    Apr 28 '16 at 3:24

This is very common for stomach sleepers. One of the many articles out there says:

Resting on the tummy is widely regarded as the worst sleeping position. It flattens the natural curve of the spine, which can lead to lower back pain

You can try sleeping in a different position.

  • 1
    The article you linked to does not seem to be the most reliable source. Could you please add another more reliable one?
    – michaelpri
    Dec 21 '15 at 22:54
  • Unreliable source, plus - it doesn't make sense prima facie. Sleeping stomach-down does not necessary flatten out your spine. Your head and your feet provide elevation, so that the top and bottom of your spine need to be above the lowest point.
    – einpoklum
    Dec 30 '18 at 12:48

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