Back pain is a common condition affecting around one-third of adults in the UK each year. It is not usually the result of anything serious and normally gets better within a few days, weeks or months, depending on how severe it is and what has caused it. But despite this, back pain can be extremely debilitating to live with and can hinder the ability to take part in certain activities. Back pain can make it hard to get comfortable when going to sleep at night and leave you feeling in pain when you wake in the morning.
But placing a pillow underneath you while sleeping at night can help to reduce the pain and discomfort you feel.
According to private healthcare firm Bupa, the position you sleep in will determine where to place the pillow.
If you usually sleep on your back, place the pillow under your knees. This will help your spine to maintain its natural curve.
If you sleep on your side, tuck the pillow between your knees. This will keep your hips, pelvis and spine in better alignment.
If you sleep on your stomach, place the pillow under your pelvis and lower abdomen. This will reduce strain on your back.
Sleeping on your stomach is generally regarded as the worst position for people with back pain, as it doesn’t provide any support for the spine and can add stress to the neck.
But if you are stomach sleeper and find it uncomfortable sleeping on your back or side, placing a pillow under your pelvis and lower abdomen may be more beneficial than forcing yourself into another position, notes Bupa.
If you can avoid sleeping on your stomach, it’s better to sleep on your back or side as this will support the curvature of your spine.
Bed retailer Dreams recommends sleeping on your right hand side, with your knees bent up slightly.
According to Dreams, laying on the right hand side is good for blood flow, as in this position the smaller and lighter left lung will rest on the heart.
The bed expert advises ensuring the gap in between your shoulder, neck and head is filled with pillow, so the spine and neck remain in good alignment.
“Imagine how your neck sits vertically in line with the rest of the spine when you are sitting and standing; when you are laying on your side, you want to maintain that,” said Dreams.
It’s also important to ensure you have a mattress that provides correct support for your spine.
A mattress that is too hard can put too much pressure on the areas where you feel discomfort, notes Dreams.
But a mattress that is too soft will not provide support for the areas that need it.
Therefore, people who suffer from lower back pain generally benefit more from a mattress “erring on the firmer side of neutral,” said Dreams.