Sleeping positions that reduce back pain

By Mayo Clinic Staff

A good night's sleep is important for physical and mental health. Back pain can make sleeping a challenge. By making simple changes in your sleeping position, you can take strain off your back.

Sleeping on your side

If you sleep on your side, draw your legs up slightly toward your chest and put a pillow between your legs.

Flexing your knees and having a pillow between your legs can help align your spine, pelvis and hips. This position takes pressure off your spine. Use a full-length body pillow if you prefer.

Person sleeping on side with pillow between knees

Sleeping on your back

If you sleep on your back, place a pillow under your knees. This may help relax your back muscles and maintain the curve of your lower back. If you need additional support, try a small, rolled towel under your waist.

Support your neck with a pillow. Your pillow should keep your neck in alignment with your chest and back.

Person sleeping on back with pillow under knees

Sleeping on your stomach

Sleeping on your stomach can be hard on your back. Try other sleeping positions if possible.

If you can't sleep any other way, reduce back strain by placing a pillow under your hips and lower stomach. Use a pillow under your head if it doesn't place too much strain on your back.

Person sleeping on stomach with pillow under lower stomach
Jan. 19, 2024 See more In-depth