Rest Your Back: Sleeping Position

Dr. Leipzig is a board-certified, Salem, Virginia spine surgeon with over two decades of experience. He specializes in procedures including robotic spine surgery, microsurgical lumbar surgery, disc arthroplasty, minimally invasive spine surgery, and more, serving the greater Roanoke, VA area. To learn more or schedule an appointment, please contact our office.

Believe it or not, we spend about a third of our lives sleeping. A good night’s rest is extremely important for mental and physical energy and health. But when you are experiencing back pain, it’s tough to find a comfortable sleeping position that results in a truly restful sleep. Those who suffer from chronic back pain, or even the occasional significant back issue, can avoid exacerbating their condition with good sleeping strategies.

It is arguable whether the optimal position for back health is sleeping on your side or on your back. However, nearly all back specialists frown upon sleeping on your stomach as that position puts unnecessary pressure on the back. The key is to keep your spine neutral and maintain the natural curvature of your spine as you drift off to dreamland. Strategically placed pillows can help, as well as stretching before sleep and in the morning.

“There is not a lot of science behind sleep as a major cause of back pain,” says Santhosh Thomas, DO, associate medical director of Richard E. Jacobs Medical Center and a spine specialist at the Cleveland Clinic. “Some sleep positions can put added pressure on your neck, shoulders, hips, lower back, knees, and even your heels, all of which can lead to pain.” He adds, “Sleep deprivation is known to affect mood and functional ability and negatively impact perception of pain.”

Here are some suggestions for sleep positions:

Check out this infographic from the University of Pittsburgh Medical School at UPMC.com, which provides helpful tips for putting your back pain to rest and helps you find your ideal sleeping position.

Dr. James Leipzig of Virginia Spine Care is an experienced back specialist who recently presented as the “physician’s champion” for the American Orthopaedic Association’s “Own the Bone” program. “Own the Bone’s” goal is to change physician and patient behavior to reduce the incidence of future fractures and positively impact osteoporosis treatments.

To make an appointment with Dr. Leipzig call Virginia Spine Care at (540) 725-9771.

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