The Southeastern Spine Institute

Your spine health relies on proper posture when sitting, standing, lifting and walking. But consider that you spend seven or more hours in a prone position every night. Sleeping, therefore, may be the most important time to tend to your back health.

When sleeping on your back, you place about 50 pounds of pressure on your spine. And while that position may prove to be the most comfortable if you have a back problem already, sleeping on your back may not be the best choice to prevent back pain.

Maintain Your Healthy Back

Take these tips for optimal back health:

  • Place a pillow under your knees if you prefer to sleep on your back. You’ll cut the pressure on your spine in half, to closer to 25 pounds.
  • Sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees to reduce pressure on your back.
  • Listen to your back. When a position hurts, change positions.
  • Sleep with a pillow under your pelvis and abdomen if you can only sleep on your stomach.
  • Lose the pillow under your head if your back feels strained while sleeping on your front side.
  • Stretch your body out if you sleep on your side to prevent back pain that comes with sleeping with your knees pulled up high in the fetal position.

Back Health Recommendations

If you have back pain or are suffering from a condition that affects your back, take these steps to enjoy restful, pain-free slumber:

  • Sleep in a reclining chair or adjustable bed to relieve the pressure on your joints if you suffer from osteoarthritis.
  • Use an egg crate foam top or a mattress with a thick, soft top if you have bursitis to avoid pain from a mattress that’s too firm.
  • Lie on your stomach, with a pillow under your pelvis, if you have been diagnosed with a paracentral disc herniation.
  • Rely on a firm mattress and flat pillow under your head and pelvis while sleeping on your stomach if you have degenerative disc disease.
  • Curl your knees up closer to your chest if you have spinal stenosis. A reclining chair or elevated bed also can help relieve pressure with this condition.

Mattress Choices Make a Difference

Ideally, your spine physicians at the Southeastern Spine Institute want you to have a restful, uninterrupted sleep every night. To achieve that, you’ve got to be comfortable. So no matter what the mattress salesperson tells you and no matter what you read, choose the mattress that is most comfortable for you.

While a firm mattress may support your back better, the pressure may cause your side, hips or back to hurt. In cases like this, no amount of firmness is going to relieve your discomfort. Follow this rule of thumb when choosing the right mattress for you:

  • You get a good night’s sleep on it.
  • You wake up refreshed with no aches and pains.