Physiotherapy for Back Pain Articles
Strategies for Back Pain When Lying Down: Best Comfortable Positions

Strategies for Back Pain When Lying Down: Best Comfortable Positions

Many find lying down ideal for seeking comfort after a long, tiring day. The torment of back pain mars the relief of finally resting your back muscles, disrupting sleep and leaving you feeling drained and irritable.

The most common reasons the adult population in Singapore experiences low back pain when lying down are muscle stiffness, disc degeneration, and inappropriate sleeping position, among many others. Around 80% of chronic lower back pain adult patients finding urgent treatment reported having limitations in major life and social events, along with increased depressive symptoms and reduced health-related quality of life.


This article explores effective strategies to reduce back pain when lying down, focusing on the most comfortable positions for rest and a good night's sleep. We will also address management strategies if pain persists, how to avoid encountering a serious problem in the long run, and when to seek medical care.

Common Causes of Back Pain While Resting

Finding the most comfortable position for back pain when lying down depends on the level of discomfort and pain you feel.

Back pain when lying down is not uncommon and can be a cause of strain and a multitude of factors, including:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Lumbar stenosis
  • Arthritis

Spinal abnormalities (spinal tumors, spinal osteoarthritis, ankylosing spondylitis)

In other cases, several risk factors increase the likelihood of experiencing back pain when lying down. These include the following:

  • Poor sleep environment
  • Inappropriate sleeping position
  • Health conditions
  • Traumatic events such as auto accident and other injury

Furthermore, individuals with jobs that require heavy lifting or prolonged sitting are at higher risk of developing chronic pain in the lower back.

How Sleeping Positions Affect Chronic Low Back Pain

Multiple peer-reviewed studies show that sleeping positions influence not only the quality time of rest but also the period of recovery and healing. The body goes through a lot of physical and mental processes during sleep, and the position in which we sleep can affect them.


Understanding comfortable sleeping positions for back pain relief goes a long way. Sleeping in a position that fails to support the natural curvature of your spine can cause muscle strains and joint pain. It can also contribute to long-term spinal misalignment and neurological conditions like sciatic nerve pain due to increased pressure on the spinal cord.

Addressing Nighttime Back Pain

Certain positions when lying down can significantly contribute to nighttime back pain. When lying down, the body distributes weight differently, and the lack of movement can trigger existing back issues.

If not addressed promptly, your lower back pain can last for months, leaving you frustrated and experiencing various other symptoms. Worse, it can develop into a lifetime health issue.

Proper and consistent rest and sleep posture are essential for spinal alignment and back health. On the other hand, incorrect rest and sleeping positions can strain muscles, cause severe pain, and lead to further discomfort.

Best Comfortable Positions for Back Pain When Lying Down

Preferences of positions when lying down vary, but comfort doesn't always equate to good sleep or overall health.


If you wake up with new body pain or aggravated health issues, your position as you lie down could be to blame. Experimenting with different positions can relieve pain and promote spinal column health, ensuring better rest day or night.

Here are some of the best comfortable positions for back pain relief.

Side Position with Pillow Between Knees

This position aligns the spine and reduces pressure on the upper back and hips, making it the best sleeping position for low back pain. Placing a pillow between the knees supports hip alignment and enhances rest and sleep comfort.

This alignment helps to reduce tension in the hip joints and surrounding muscles, promoting a more comfortable bed rest. The pillow provides cushioning and support, preventing the knees from rubbing against each other and reducing the risk of pressure points.

Laying on Back with Knees Elevated

Elevating the knees while lying on the back helps relieve pressure on the lower back and aligns the spine. Placing a pillow under the knees supports and maintains the spine's natural curvature and helps reduce strain on the lumbar region.

The pillow helps maintain the knees slightly bent, further relieving tension on the lower back muscles and ligaments. Additionally, it prevents the legs from falling to one side, ensuring that the spine remains in a neutral position throughout your rest.

The Fetal Position

This position helps relieve pain in the back by elongating the spine and reducing pressure on the discs between the vertebrae. By curling up on one side with the knees drawn toward the chest, the curvature of the spine is naturally maintained, minimizing strain on the lower back muscles.

Ensure that the knees are not pulled too tightly toward the chest, as this may not be ideal and comfortable for some. The fetal position is more suitable for people with slipped discs.

Laying on Your Stomach

This position may be least favorable for back pain relief. It arches your lower back and may cause neck pain. However, if you are a stomach sleeper, there are ways to modify this position for less harm.

One involves using a thin or no pillow to reduce neck strain. Placing a small pillow or towel under the pelvis aids spinal alignment and relieves lower back pressure. Alternatively, sleeping with a body pillow or under one side of the body can cushion the torso and maintain spinal neutrality.

Even with modifications, stomach sleeping may not be the optimal choice for individuals with back pain.

Strategies for Pain Relief

In addition to adjusting positions, there are several strategies you can employ to reduce back pain:

  • Opt for mattresses and pillows that provide adequate support to maintain spinal alignment.
  • Incorporate gentle stretching exercises into a bedtime routine for back relaxation and relief.
  • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) and over-the-counter medications can help reduce pain and inflammation associated with back pain when in a resting position.
  • Home remedies like hot baths or showers and aromatherapy with essential oils can provide relief from back pain.
  • Consult a qualified physical therapist to assess your condition and provide a personalized treatment plan.

How Physical Therapy Helps with Chronic Pain

Physiotherapists for back pain help manage chronic back pain conditions effectively using non-invasive methods. In Singapore, Phoenix Rehab handles lower back pain and other symptoms professionally. Their physiotherapy exercises and evidence-based treatment and approaches address various low back pain issues.

Physical therapy interventions typically include a combination of therapeutic exercises, manual therapy techniques, and post-treatment education. These interventions aim to reduce pain levels, improve flexibility, strength, and endurance, and enhance overall physical function.

More importantly, physical therapists empower patients to take an active role in their recovery through self-care while providing guidance on ergonomics, posture, and lifestyle modifications.

When to See a Doctor

If an injury worsens, resulting in persistent or severe lower back pain, prompt consultation with a doctor is advised. Ignoring such symptoms may aggravate the condition, potentially leading to complications like muscle tears or nerve damage.

In some cases, a doctor may recommend surgery, particularly if conservative treatments are found ineffective. Neurological surgeons specialize in addressing spine-related conditions. Seeking timely medical evaluation ensures proper diagnosis and treatment, improving outcomes and preventing long-term consequences.


A pain-free back is a healthy back. The strategies discussed in this article help effectively manage back pain. Finding the best comfortable positions when lying down is crucial for achieving a good and quality rest. With the right approach and perseverance, you can wake up refreshed and ready to tackle the day, free from pain and discomfort.

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