Physiotherapy For Lower Back Pain Articles
Easing Lower Back Discomfort After Sleep

Easing Lower Back Discomfort After Sleep

Lower back pain can be incredibly debilitating, especially when it strikes first thing in the morning after a night of sleep. If you're experiencing lower back pain after sleeping, you're not alone. Many people suffer from this discomfort, and it can greatly impact your daily activities and overall quality of life.

In this article, we will explore the possible causes of morning lower back pain and provide practical tips on managing and alleviating this discomfort.

Why You're Experiencing Morning Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is a widespread issue, affecting approximately 80% of adults in Singapore. There are several potential reasons why an individual may experience lower back pain in the morning. Some common reasons for morning lower back pain may include:

Bad Sleeping Position

The way you position your body during sleep can put excessive strain on your back, leading to pain and discomfort when you wake up. Sleeping on your stomach, for example, can cause your spine to deviate from its natural curve and strain your lower back muscles. Similarly, sleeping on your side with improper pillow support can cause misalignment of your spine, leading to morning back pain.

Sleeping on a Bad Mattress

The quality and condition of your mattress can also contribute to lower back pain after sleeping. An old, worn-out mattress that lacks proper support can fail to keep your spine aligned during sleep, leading to tension and pain in your lower back. Investing in a good quality mattress that offers adequate support and comfort can make a significant difference in your sleep quality, helping you have a good night's sleep and reduce morning back pain.


For pregnant women, lower back pain after sleeping is a common complaint. The added weight and shift in the body's centre of gravity during pregnancy, especially during the second and third trimesters, when the baby is getting bigger, can put extra strain on the lower back. Additionally, hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause the ligaments and joints in the pelvic area to loosen, leading to instability and discomfort in the lower back.

Underlying Medical Condition

In some cases, morning lower back pain can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. Here are some examples of medical conditions that can cause persistent back pain that worsens after a night of sleep:

Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) is a condition characterised by the gradual deterioration of the intervertebral discs in the spine, often due to the natural ageing process or wear and tear.

The intervertebral discs act as cushions between the vertebrae, providing flexibility and shock absorption for the spine. As these discs degenerate, they may lose their ability to effectively cushion the spine, leading to a range of symptoms, including lower back pain.

Degenerated discs can lead to changes in the spine's structure, potentially resulting in the compression of nearby nerves. This compression may cause pain, numbness, or tingling sensations, particularly in the morning when the body transitions from a resting to an active state.

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is a condition characterised by the narrowing of the spinal canal or the spaces within the spine, leading to compression of the spinal cord and/or nerves. This compression can result in a range of symptoms, including lower back pain, leg pain, and numbness.

Changes in posture during sleep, such as lying in a flexed position, can exacerbate compression on the spinal cord or nerves, contributing to morning discomfort upon waking. Prolonged periods of inactivity during sleep can also contribute to increased discomfort in the morning, as movement and activity may temporarily alleviate symptoms associated with spinal stenosis.


Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder characterised by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, sleep, memory, and mood issues. While fibromyalgia primarily involves widespread pain and tenderness, it can also lead to localised symptoms such as lower back pain in the morning.

Fibromyalgia involves heightened sensitivity to pain due to changes in the way the central nervous system processes pain signals. As a result, even mild pressure or movement can lead to an increased perception of pain, potentially contributing to morning lower back discomfort.

People with fibromyalgia also often experience muscle stiffness, especially after periods of inactivity, such as during sleep. This stiffness can manifest as morning lower back pain, making it challenging to move comfortably upon waking.

Risk Factors to Developing Lower Back Pain in the Morning

While anyone can experience lower back pain after sleeping, certain risk factors can increase your chances of developing this discomfort. Being aware of these risk factors can help you take preventive measures to reduce your morning back pain.

Smoking: Smoking has been linked to various health issues, and lower back pain is no exception. Smoking can impair blood flow to the spinal discs, causing them to degenerate and leading to back pain.

Sedentary Lifestyle: Lack of movement and prolonged sitting can contribute to muscle imbalances and postural issues that manifest as morning lower back pain. A sedentary lifestyle can also cause lower back pain in the morning due to weakened back and core muscles, reduced spinal flexibility, and increased risk of disc degeneration, which can result in morning stiffness and discomfort.

Obesity: Carrying excess weight can put significant strain on your back, leading to an increased risk of lower back pain. Obesity can also contribute to conditions such as herniated discs and arthritis, further exacerbating morning back pain.

Physically Strenuous Job: Having a physically strenuous job can cause lower back pain in the morning due to the repetitive stress and strain placed on the back muscles and spine during work, leading to muscle fatigue and inflammation overnight.

Anxiety and Depression: Mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression can have a significant impact on your physical well-being, including your back health. In fact, evidence suggests a strong link between psychological distress and the severity of back pain symptoms.

How to Manage Your Morning Back Pain

Managing lower back pain in the morning can involve several strategies aimed at alleviating discomfort and preventing its recurrence. It's important to note that the effectiveness of these strategies can vary depending on the underlying cause of the pain. Here are some general approaches to managing morning lower back pain:

Lifestyle Modification

Making certain lifestyle changes can significantly improve your morning back pain. Maintaining a healthy weight through regular exercise and a balanced diet are just some of the ways to reduce the strain on your back and bring pain relief. Here are some other lifestyle modifications that you may observe for morning lower back pain relief:

Observe Better Sleeping Positions

Adjusting your sleep position can make a difference in alleviating morning lower back pain. Stomach sleepers are typically considered to be the most at risk for lower back pain in the morning as the sleep position isn't ideal, and they're often advised to try switching to sleeping on their back or side.

Use a supportive pillow beneath your knees when sleeping on your side, and place a pillow on your lower abdomen or under your pelvis if you're more comfortable sleeping on your stomach. This keeps your spine aligned and helps relieve pressure from your lower back.

Experimenting with different sleeping positions and finding the one that feels most comfortable for your back can greatly reduce morning pain.

Take It Slow When Getting Out of Bed

When you wake up with lower back pain, it's important to be mindful of your movements and avoid sudden jerks or twists that can aggravate the pain. When getting out of bed, start lying on your side, bend your knees, and slowly push yourself up using your arms. This gentle approach can help minimise strain on your lower back and reduce morning discomfort.

Do Morning Stretches

Doing gentle stretches in the morning can help loosen up your muscles and reduce lower back pain. Simple stretches such as knee-to-chest stretches, cat-cow poses, or gentle back rotations can provide relief and improve flexibility. Listen to your body and stop any stretch that causes pain or discomfort.

Stay Active

Regular physical activity is crucial for maintaining a healthy back and preventing morning pain. Engage in low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, or cycling that promote back strength and flexibility. Avoid activities that put excessive strain on your back, such as heavy lifting or high-impact exercises.

OTC Pain Medication

Over-the-counter pain medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can provide temporary relief from morning back pain. These medications can relieve pain by blocking pain signals and inflammation. However, you shouldn't rely too much on these medications and must look for other treatments if your back painwon't go away or worsens.

Topical Pain Relievers

Topical pain relievers, such as creams or gels containing menthol or capsaicin, can provide localised relief for morning back pain. These products work by numbing the area or creating a warming sensation that helps alleviate discomfort. Follow the instructions on the packaging and consult with a pharmacist if you have any concerns or questions.


Back pain physiotherapy in Singapore, which focuses on assessing, diagnosing, and treating back pain, particularly targeting the spine, muscles, and related structures, may be beneficial for your morning back pain, especially when it's chronic or severe.

A physiotherapist, such as our experienced physiotherapists at Phoenix Rehab, can assess your condition, provide targeted exercises and treatments, and guide you on proper posture and body mechanics to prevent further discomfort.

The treatment approach for physiotherapy for lower back pain in Singapore is tailored to the individual's specific condition and may encompass a range of strategies to address the underlying causes of back pain, promote healing, and enhance overall physical well-being.

When to See a Doctor

While most cases of morning lower back pain can be managed with self-care measures, there are instances where it is important to seek medical attention. If pain persists, is severe, and is accompanied by other concerning symptoms such as numbness, tingling, or difficulty controlling your bladder or bowel, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional.

They can perform a thorough evaluation by taking a medical history and performing a physical examination. They may also request for further diagnostic tests for further understanding of . Through this information, they can then provide appropriate treatment options to address the underlying cause of your morning back pain.

Final Words

Experiencing lower back pain after sleeping can be frustrating and disruptive to your daily life. Remember to consult with a healthcare professional if your symptoms persist or worsen, as they can provide personalised advice and treatment options to help you find relief. Don't let morning back pain hold you back from enjoying a pain-free and productive day.

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