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Got Back Pain When Sleeping? Here’s How to Fix It (In Pictures)

Back massage

How To Fix Back Pain When Sleeping

Why is it that kids (or people who don’t seem to have back problems) can sleep in the strangest, most bizarre positions, but never seem to have any pain?

How is that they can sleep in totally unnatural positions and still sleep just fine?

And why is it that even when I try to sleep in a perfect position, on a great bed, with tons of pillows,  I can’t sleep. What the heck is going on?

After many years of sleepless nights, I figured out the answer.

Exclusive Bonus: Download a bonus step by step guide here to getting pain free (2 tips not mentioned here).

Table of Contents:

  1. The Proper Painless Position For Your Spine
  2. Proper Sleep Positions To Prevent Back Pain When Sleeping
  3. Which Position is the Best?
  4. Troubleshooting

The Proper Painless Position For Your Spine

Alright, so you’re going to have to trust me on this next one – your spine wants to be perfectly aligned all day.

Standing, sitting, walking, sleeping – your spine really only has one optimal position, although it’s obviously built to accommodate flexibility and constant motion.

When you mess up that natural, optimal alignment for too long (like when you sit at work for 8 hours and get terrible lower back pain), pain results. Comprende?

Here’s your normal spine:

Illu_vertebral_column

Via Wikipedia

Normal posture

Here’s a common misalignment of the spine, where the shoulders are hunched and the head pokes out (computer caveman syndrome anyone?):

Kyphosis

And here’s another common spinal misalignment that is frequent in many of us who sit a lot. Tight hip muscles cause the lower back to overly arch:

lordosis

Via University of Maryland Medical Center

Lordosis

So what do any of these have to do with your sleep?

It’s important to know what proper spinal alignment is versus dysfunctional alignment – so that when you sleep you can quickly remind yourself how to get into a properly aligned position.

The real question is how to keep the natural position of the spine while sleeping.

Proper Sleep Positions To Prevent Back Pain When Sleeping

A. The Fetal Position

Problem #1: The lower back is overly arched

Back Pain When Sleeping - Fetal Position

Depending on how tight your hips are, if your legs are too straight, it will pull the lower back into an arched position. If your legs are too bent, tight hamstrings will pull the lower back into an overly-rounded position.

The key is to find the sweet spot in-between.

Problem #2: The back is overly rounded

Back Pain When Sleeping - Fetal Position

For many of us with tight hamstrings, tucking the legs up too close to the chest will result in an over-rounding of the lower back.

Problem #3: Shoulders are overly hunched and the head is bent down too much.

Back Pain When Sleeping - Fetal Position

For those of you with neck/upper back pain, it’s really important to pay attention to your shoulder and neck alignment.

Problem #4: Head is overly tilted back

Back Pain When Sleeping - Fetal Position

Proper Position When Sleeping On Your Side In Fetal Position

Proper Fetal Position

Proper Fetal Position Pillow

B. On The Back

Common Problems: Lower back is overly arched and in pain

Generally, the main problem that people have with back sleeping is that the lower back starts to ache.

Usually this can be because of tight hip muscles like the hip flexors & psoas. It’s pretty easy to figure out if they’re tight: Just bend your knees to a 90 degree angle – when your legs are pulled up, is there less pain and does your lower back feel less arched? If so, it’s probably tight hips.

The easy fix is to simply add a pillow beneath your knees, which will let the lower back settle a bit.

Laying on The Back

C. On The Stomach

Main Problem: Tight hips cause the lower back to overly arch

The problem here is very similar to the problem that people have with sleeping on their back – but in reverse.

Here, you want to put a pillow or flat towel under your stomach/groin to help push that lower back up into alignment a bit. Usually you can immediately feel the relief.

Laying on Stomach 1

Laying on Stomach 2

So Which Sleep Position is The Best If You Get Back Pain When Sleeping?

If you’re having problems with your back or neck, I highly suggest sleeping on your back.

There are a number of reasons for this: first – just from personal experience, sleeping on your back is generally the easiest way to aggravate the fewest number of things (well, except for snoring ;) ).

When you sleep on your side, you have to worry about your back alignment, neck alignment, your hips twisting, etc. When you sleep on your back there is less than can go wrong and fewer variables to experiment with to get comfortable.

Second, when you sleep on your back, you are naturally laying flat which is letting gravity re-align the body a bit. It’s offsetting the fact that you might have just been sitting in a caveman computer pose for 10 hours (here’s how to fix that back pain).

Also, if you have neck pain, I’ve found that back sleeping is also easier than side sleeping for some people. People with neck pain tend to have protruding necks (in my case – from staring at a computer screen for 10 hours a day). Usually when they go to sleep the neck continues protruding and stays in the poor alignment, reinforcing the pain.

It took me years of waking up to throbbing neck muscles and spasming trapezius muscles, with a crap night of sleep, to realize this.

Free Bonus Guide:  Use These 2 Simple Habits To Stop Back Sleeping (& At Your Desk)

New Optin 3D Cover Less SpaceAt the end of the day, deviation from your body’s natural alignment will cause pain in the long-run. The key is to maintain better alignment throughout the day, and while you’re sleeping.

If you’re at work, make sure to focus on sitting properly to prevent back pain.

If you’re in pain when you’re sleeping (or when you wake up), take the same precautions – for a few weeks, awkwardly force yourself to get into a more aligned position when you sleep.  Missed sleep sucks, and I’ve been there with the back pain. You just need to be patient and experiment.

I also have a free back pain E-course for you in the private insider’s list. Just click here (or click the image to the right) and it’ll bring you there.

– Alex

Have You Read My New Book Yet?

  Read more about this in my book Master The Day. You’ll learn the nine daily success habits I learned interviewing people that lost 100+ pounds and kept it off in a healthy way – by changing their habits. Plus, you’ll get a free $100 bonus video course if you show me your receipt. You can get the audiobook here too.

226 comments… add one

  1. Thanks very much, I’ve just recently started waking up in the middle of the night with back pain and want to hit it on the head before it gets any worse. I’ve just recently read an article that a memory foam mattress will do the trick but have been reluctant to try it out, but looking at the positions on here hopefully it will support me in the way you’ve recommended.

    Reply
    1. Hi Beth!

      In my experience, changing mattresses was a short term fix. Have you ever noticed that people with “good backs” can sleep on anything? A wood floor, memory foam, an awkward couch – and they still sleep well. I’ve found the reverse to be true, too. For me, it doesn’t matter how optimal the conditions are, because we need to fix what’s going on with the body first.

      Try it out and keep me posted with how it goes!

      Best,
      Alex

      Reply
      1. Re memory foam matress.
        I bought a memory foam matress topper rather than the full mattress and it is great. But it is true that it doesn’t fix the problem. Great for hip issues and generally a nice experience. They do generate more heat which is good for back pain because it increases blood supply to area. But i am going to try the different positions being suggested as laying down is ideally restful and not debilitating.

        Reply
  2. Stumbled upon the article while trying to understand the late night back pain. I am the batman in day but soon as I lie down, it pains to even move or shift position. THis has been happening since last week.

    The doctor wants me to hold on for a while till he is assured that this is not any ordinary muscle issue. I can tell straight away I am facing something far serious.

    Will wait and see.

    Reply
    1. Hi Ashok,

      Where specifically does it hurt?

      Reply
      1. Am having a pain on my back just under my shoulders but inside.it’s like my spine is dislocated.can’t slip by either of the sides,but when seated or standing no pain

        Reply
  3. hey there Alex, I’ve read all your back pain posts and I’ll try my best to incorporate these advices in my life, but I have a question…what about scoliosis (my spine is bent in a S shape) these tricks should help me out for sure, but is there something else I should know?

    Thanks a lot

    Reply
    1. Hi Laurence,

      I would suggest checking with your doctor first, and avoiding anything that causes pain or discomfort.

      Best,
      Alex

      Reply
    2. I’m having a lot of lower back pain also, we have a memory foam mattress that is 12 inches tall and I have had 4 back surgery for scoliosis and I have 2 rods and 20 screws… I try the pillow between my legs but do you have any other ideas?

      Reply
  4. Your sleep positions have been really helpful, but I can’t understand why I get severe lower stomach pain when lying on my back. Is it something to do with muscles pulling my stomach down? I have spondylosis (and also think,from your diagrams, that I might have I have an exagerated lumbar curve). My lower stomach only hurts when I sleep on my back. Any ideas would be really appreciated! Thanks

    Reply
    1. Hi Kate,

      Does it hurt when you do anything else or throughout the day?

      – Alex

      Reply
      1. Could just be gas. If I eat too close to bedtime (within 2-3 hours), that happens to me. Just lay on your left side for a bit to release the gas. Eating within three hours of bedtime increases the likelihood of digestive pain while sleeping on the back.

        Reply
  5. Hi Alex,
    Thank you for the sleeping tips. I have been getting lower back pain from sleeping for the last week. I have been on the same mattress for the past 5-7 years and its a pillow top.
    I had back pain a few years ago and added a comforter to the bed which seemed to fix the problem. I felt like my back was sinking in to the bed too much. Now the pain is back again and I’m not sure what to do. I mainly sleep on my sides but have found I am sleeping on my back a lot now. My lower back is really tight. What do you think?

    Matt

    Reply
    1. Hey Matt,

      I had similar issues with my back. I’ve noticed that a lot of people try to compensate for back pain by reverting back to sleeping on their back.

      When you sleep on your back it still hurts? Does it hurt your upper back and neck, or just lower back?

      If it’s just your lower back, do a quick experiment: Bend your knees and put your feet flat on your bed (while you’re laying down) – do you still feel back pain? If not, it could be that you have tight hip flexors and psoas muscles which make your back overly arched.

      Try putting a big pilow under your knees while you sleep and see if that fixes the pain a bit.

      – Alex

      Reply
  6. last night, at 3:00 in the morning i woke up and started feeling strong pains in my neck. I put some arbonne bio-nutria herbal muscle cream on my neck to ease the pain. that stuff pretty much did nothing. Throughout the day today i have kept a hot patch-thing on my neck to make it easier to move around. literally an hour ago i looked in the mirror and noticed something weird. my shoulderline is not exactly horizontal, and is slanted to the left. my head is tilted to the right, and everytime i try to tilt it into a somewhat proper position, it hurts like hell and goes back to the slant. HELP!

    Reply
    1. Hi,

      Chances are you simply slept wrong and now you’ve got a stiff neck from the muscle strain. Basically all you can do is take it easy for a few days, relax, and maybe massage some pain-relieving cream on your neck. Let me know how it goes!

      – Alex

      Reply
  7. Hi Alex,
    Am suffering from back pain since 1 year ,but its not consistent…When i tried yoga it gives me temporary releif. Now i get pain in every position if am in that position for a long time…and now i get lower back pain while sleeping sometmes uppre back pain as well….what i need to do ?

    Thanks,
    Sheetal

    Reply
    1. Hey Sheetal,

      First check out this article for back pain relief (it usually works right away): http://modernhealthmonk.com/fixing-lower-back-pain/

      And then download this free guide I made (see bottom for back pain guide): http://modernhealthmonk.com/monks-courtyard-subscribed

      Try those out and let me know how it goes!

      Are you sitting throughout the day a lot?

      Best,
      Alex

      Reply
  8. Hi!
    i got this back pain since almost 2 weeks.. i get pain during the night after sleeping on the back. even changing positions is painful. though i get bit relief from changing position for little bit but still the pain will be there and it will radiate to my belly sides.
    The pain is actually where the shoulder plates end.

    Reply
    1. Hi Mirwais,

      So is it closer to your neck (top?) or is it bottom of the shoulder blade? Or closer to the inside?

      – Alex

      Reply
      1. It is at the bottom of the shoulder plates.

        Reply
  9. I have had upper back pain in the middle of night for 1 month plus and my sleep has been disrupted because the pain will wake me up after lying on bed for about 4 hours. I am not able to return to sleep because no position helps to alleviate the pain. It takes 2 – 3 hours of movement in the day and pain will be gone but it returns once I go to bed. The first attack came while sleeping in fetal position and a really numb right arm. Tried sleeping on the back but pain did not go away.

    Reply
    1. Hi Denise,

      Do your arms usually fall asleep when you’re sleeping? Usually that’s an indicator of poor upper back and shoulder alignment – check out this article to help get you started: http://modernhealthmonk.com/neck-pain-and-shoulder-pain-upper-crossed-syndrome/

      Best,
      Alex

      Reply
      1. Arms don’t go asleep, only that pain will be there when i lay down anytime or sleep at night.

        Reply
  10. Sorry Alex i thought that reply was for me.

    Reply
  11. I sleep on my side and have had severe lower back pain at night for months. The pain woke me up after five hours almost every night. I found your website and used your suggestion to sleep with a pillow between my legs. I have been sleeping 7-8 hours every night ever since with little or no lower back pain. I can’t thank you enough for the great suggestion!

    Reply
    1. Ray,

      Awesome! I’m glad I could help :)

      Best,
      Alex

      Reply
      1. thanx

        Reply
  12. I just wanted to say THANK YOU! I purchased a cheap mattress and have been waking up on it with back pain for over a year now. I’ve been getting used to sleeping in that relaxed side position for the past week and my back pain is practically inexistent. I honestly thought it was just the crappy bed until now! Seriously can’t thank you enough for this information… It all makes sense now!! <3

    Reply
    1. Melissa, you are very welcome :) I’m glad it helped! Feel free to email me if you ever have any other questions.

      – Alex

      Reply
  13. Alex, I hear all this talk about lower and upper back pain. What about mid back pain?

    Reply
    1. Hi Meagan,

      Can you tell me specifically where the pain is? Is it mid shoulder blade?

      – Alex

      Reply
  14. Hi Alex,

    I have been having severe low back pain when I sleep. I’ve tried putting pillows under my knees when on my back and between my knees when on my sides. I can’t sleep on my left side because it hurts more so I sleep on my right but that doesn’t last long. I also do stretches before bed and after I wake up (knees to chest and alternating). But nothing has been helping. It’s been so bad that I’ve actually had to take Aleve before sleeping. It only helps a little bit but not much. I only get about 3-4 hours of sleep before the pain starts. I don’t know what to do.

    Reply
    1. Hi Sandy,

      Have you checked with a doc to make sure something more severe isn’t going on?

      Reply
      1. I have the same symptoms as Sandy with low back pain after about 2-3 hours of sleeping. It wakes me and is most painful when trying to move positions in bed. Pillows between my knees on the side and under my knees on my back do not help. I typically get up 2 or 3 times a night to do the back stretches my PT recommended. When I told my Chiropractor this is a night specific problem, he recommended I see an Orthopeadist, as this is a Red flag for something more serious. I’ve been seeing my Chiropractor for years due to spinal stenosis, herneated discs and such. I’ve been recommended for a spinal fusion, but want to do anything I can to avoid it, since my mother’s did not go well. What is night pain a red flag for?

        Reply
  15. Hi Alex – I have chronic spasming in my upper trapezius. I had surgery about 2 months ago on the top corner of my scapula, as we thought this may have been the issue. Now the upper trap is spasming more :(. I stumbled across your article here when I was trying to figure out if it was how I was sleeping that was causing all of this. I use one of those tempurpedic neck pillows…which may be artificially raising me up. Can you explain how my neck should be if I’m a back sleeper and trying to get this spasming to stop? You recommend a folded towel? Any idea how high this should be to get my head in alignment? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Hi Adrienne,

      Was the trapezius bothering you before the surgery quite a bit?

      Reply
  16. Hi Alex,

    I have been having severe pain for the last three weeks in the middle part of my back. This pain occurs when I am sleeping at night and during the day it disappears. I am not sure what the cause of my pain is. I bought a new bed last year I do not feel that is the problem. I went to get a x-ray but they did not find any problems. I don’t know what to do any suggestions. I would greatly appreciate this thank you.

    Reply
    1. Hi Analese,

      Do you mean your upper back, between the shoulder blades?

      Reply
      1. Same problem here…the pain is T10, T11, T11
        excruciating while sleeping…sleeping on back for 4hours and then waking up to unbelievable pain. Try curling up, laying on sides nothing helps. I can run 20 miles with no pain bit at night its excrutiating.

        Reply
  17. Hi Alex – For the last 3 months, I have been having lower back pain, while turning sides. I have to be extremely careful while turning sides during night. This disturbs my sleep constantly. Moreover when I wake up, it pains to sit straight on the bed and getting up from the bed, to a standing position. The back is stiff and my walking posture is odd. But within one hour of getting up from bed, the pain disappears and back gets stronger as day passes. I have referred to neuro, Ortho and also have been to massage for a week. They feel muscles are week. Situation has improved but not OK. I have been asked to sleep on hard bed, which makes my turning easier. Soft beds make my turning difficult as resistance to turning is high. Do you have any suggestion

    Reply
    1. Hi Sunil,

      What position do you usually sleep in?

      Best,
      Alex

      Reply
  18. Hi,
    I have been having upper back pain (in between shoulders) only after 5-6 hours sleep , it is very deep and sharp and makes it difficult to breath in deeply. Lying on front, impossible, side very painful and back only just bearable. I have to get up and walk around for 10 or so minutes for it to subside. Sick of waking at 3:00am to start my day can you help at all.
    I have been seeing a Chiropractor twice a week for 4 weeks and not much change at all.
    Regards
    Charmaine

    Reply
    1. Hi Charmaine, start with this article: http://modernhealthmonk.com/neck-and-shoulder-pain

      and this article: http://modernhealthmonk.com/neck-pain-and-shoulder-pain-upper-crossed-syndrome/

      Do those and I guarantee it’ll be gone quickly.

      Best,
      Alex

      Reply
    2. Hi, I will try some of these positions. In the past few months I have been getting lower back pain during my sleep. I will go to bed onmy side, then feel the stiffness pain in my lower back, then switch sides, and keep switching from side to back to side again. It wasn’t always like this using my mattress and don’t know why all of a sudden my back decides to hurt. It’s so annoying.

      Reply
  19. Loved this article! I hate nights because I’m constantly waking up in pain and not able to get back to sleep. I have other health issues but my back, neck, and hips are a real pain for me. I’m laying in bed as I write (on my side, lol). I’m going to have to try changing to back sleeping but I hate the thought of it. I’ve always been a side or belly sleeper and can’t sleep well otherwise. Another question about sleeping… What is the best kind of pillow? I have awful neck pains that lead to migraines.

    Reply
    1. Hi Shy’rell,

      Personally, I have to mostly sleep no my back due to my back and neck pain. I hate back sleeping too but it’s one of the best ways to keep the body properly aligned.

      Regarding pillows – honestly it doesn’t matter as long as your body is properly aligned. That will depend on your body size/shape/curves, etc. So you need to experiment with those.

      Reply
    2. Back sleeping ? The best pillow is no pillow. Take a soft towel and roll it up like a snausage and put it under your neck until it “feels” about right.Slam 4 rum and hibiscus tea(te Jamaica) drinks and call it a night.
      A Chrocracker turned me on to that when I had an “almost whiplash” 4 wheel drive event.It works.

      Reply
      1. what about the tempurpedic side sleeper pillow..even if you lie on your back. my wife doesn’t like me on my back because I snore but when i’m on my side I end up with a stiff neck because I feel like i’m compressing my chest and neck…aren’t you squashing your shoulders together when on your side? I would like to get a new mattress..the new purple one because mine currently sinks

        Reply
        1. Hey Paul,

          Yeah, sometimes. Depends on the person. Try it out for a week and see how you sleep. Sometimes I get a stiff neck sleeping on my side, but experiment.

          Reply
  20. Hi,

    I am a 28 year old male and about a month ago I had severe back pain right in the middle of my back which built up throughout the night until it was unbearable by the morning time.

    Various sleeping positions and back stretches did not work. Light exercise the day before helped a little.

    However hanging from a bar, arms straight, feet off the floor, for about 30 seconds a day, every day for a week, fixed the problem. (I also did some chin ups while I was at it, but I don’t think this fixed my back).

    No more back ache for me. Just thought I’d share the tip.

    Cheers,
    Rob

    Reply
    1. Hey Rob,

      Awesome, thanks for sharing! I will definitely pass this along. Sounds like your spine just needed to decompress and stretch out a bit eh?

      Reply
    2. @Rob: Dude I have to thank you – you saved my back!

      I’m 29 years old and spend most of my waking life sitting in front of a computer. This only ever led to lower back pains which I was able to manage with a sit/stand workstation and occasional walks.

      About a month after I started training in iaido (which involves alot of sword-swinging) I noticed a pain that sounded alot like yours beginning to develop: middle of my back, but slightly to the right, around my shoulder blade. At first it would go away during the day, especially after exercising, but quickly got worse. After a few weeks it had escalated to the point that it wouldn’t go away during the day anymore, and I noticed that, like you, it would get worse throughout the night and become excruciating by morning.

      After reading your comment I started looking for a place around the house I could hang from. Best I could do was grip the top of a bathroom door frame and put part of my weight on it – even then I felt better almost right away and after a few days the pain completely disappeared. Now I’ve gone and bought an exercise bar I can hang from my closet door and hang my entire weight off of should the pain ever come back (and every once in a while to try and offset all the time I spend sitting).

      So thanks again, I’d buy you a beer if I could!

      Reply
  21. Hi Alex, Great article. I was wondering if you could help me out. I wake up most mornings with a slight headache( trapped nerve feeling) and its due to the fact that when I am asleep I am tilting my head right back as far as it will go and sleeping like that ( I wake up in that position) which in turn makes my neck stiff in the morning as well as the headache etc. I mostly sleep on my side with my underneath arm stretched out, my knees are bent although my top leg falls forward. I set off to sleep purposely tilting my chin down but I cant control my neck while I’m asleep. I also try to sleep on my back but always wake up on my side. I was thinking maybe a neck brace would help but not sure if that’s wise. Any info or suggestions would be greatly received. Thanks
    Deb

    Reply
    1. Hi Deborah,

      I would follow through with this protocol I put together here for neck and shoulder pain – if you have neck alignment issues, that slight headache issue is REALLY common. I had it for years. Read the article here: http://modernhealthmonk.com/neck-and-shoulder-pain

      Reply
  22. HI

    Reply
  23. Love this! Sharing on my FB as well – After battling the worst neck/upper back pain the past couple of months, I decided to take to the internet for suggestions on sleeping positions. This is perfect – Love the pictures and the additional information.

    Thanks!!

    Reply
    1. Cheers Callie :) Let me know how it goes!

      Reply
  24. I sleep in my bed and get back pain every night, the pain is in the lower back and sometimes the middle (not between shoulder blades, just middle of back) but the pain is mostly in the lower, bought new beds and still get pain, if I sleep on the couch in a reclined position I wake up fine, any suggestions so I can start sleeping in my bed again.

    Reply
    1. Hi Denis,

      Start with this article: http://modernhealthmonk.com/fixing-lower-back-pain/

      Reply
  25. Hi I have arthritis in my neck is there a good pillow u could recommend or sleep position 1 pillow or 2 pillow or flat have tried them all ?

    Reply
    1. Hi Kaz,

      Honestly, I’ve tried many different pillows and they didn’t make much of a difference for me – I was still in pain. I had to fix the underlying cause first.

      Reply
  26. Hi there,

    I “must” sleep on my back due to having subluxated shoulders–and have done so for 20 years. I sleep on a firm latex mattress and use a thin latex pillow. I’ve experienced upper back pain while sleeping for the last few months. I wake up and my upper back is super tight right in the spine. I can’t figure out why. I do mild stretching prior to sleep which allows me so sleep for a few hours…

    Cheers :)

    Reply
  27. Alexander,
    I sleep on my sides and have lower back pain in the middle of the night.
    I sleep on a Tempur-Pedic mattress now, but it feels too soft and soggy for good back support. Is there a brand or kind of mattress you recommend?
    Thanks,
    Ray

    Reply
    1. Hi Ray,

      I’ve found the same as you – beds that were too soft made my back pain worse. Personally – What I would suggest is putting pillows under your hips to level them out.

      So if you sleep on your back, put them under your knees or a thin one under your lower back. If you sleep on your side, ensure that there isn’t an exaggerated arch in your lower back.

      Reply
  28. Very nice guide and information provided here. I have never had a back issue in my life, except when people have me pop their backs for them and they talk me into how good it will feel if I let them try it on me. I never feel relief from it, just pain briefly.

    The past 4 days though I have had some rather strong upper back pain. I was sleeping on a couch with no pain, then I moved onto my buddy’s futon mattress with a memory foam topper he has on the floor. First two days of sleeping on the mattress I was perfectly fine, and honestly thought I would be getting a better sleep. Day 3 I noticed a little pain, day 4, a lot of pain. I then went back to sleeping on the couch and the pain was much lighter after waking up the next day, but now today which is my 4th day of pain, sleeping on the couch did not stop the pain from returning and it is bad.

    All pain is in my upper back, the pain is not continuous, it is really strong brief pains when I move from one position to another. leaning forward, leaning back, stretching my arms back or forward, twisting my upper body.

    I have no idea what the issue is. Also, when I was sleeping on the couch I would move around a lot to stay comfortable, and I was sleeping on the couch for a month without issue before I tried out the other mattress. When I moved to the mattress I was able to sleep comfortably on my back, so that makes it even more confusing…

    Reply
    1. Hey Aaron,

      Is it only when you sleep?

      Reply
  29. Hey Alex, i am a high school student, and tend to sleep late at night after a long day of work and study. Through out the whole day i am filled with energy, but when it gets to the night i have to constantly wake up because of the upper and lower back pain and neck pain. I have tried almost everything and i don’t know what is the problem!!! Please help

    Reply
    1. Hi Nicole,

      Does this only happen when you’re sleeping?

      Reply
  30. I have been having really bad upper back ache in between the shoulder blades 4 – 5 hours after I go to sleep. I tried changing beds but it didnt help..the pain is getting worse now..its all good during the day and the pain only comes back when I go to sleep..it feels like its my spinal chord thats hurting so bad…any suggestions. .thank you

    Reply
  31. Alex, just stumbled across your article because I had some time to kill an was wondering about my issue. If sleep on my couch (semi regularly), I’m usually in what most people describe as awkward positions: arms hanging off the couch, on leg up on the arm, the other at its base or under my other leg, etc. However, I usually wake up feeling pretty good.

    If I sleep on my bed, I always wake up with a stiff lower back. The bed is initially so much more comfortable, but in the morning it’s a whole other story. I’ve got a history of back problems, and yes, if I bend my knees, the discomfort is alleviated. I’ll try the pillow/blanket suggestion, but it’s hard to get comfortable enough to fall asleep normally (I usually roll over quite a bit while falling asleep).

    Do you have any suggestions on how to get used to these methods?

    PS: Hopefully you’re still checking this…most of the comments are at least a year old, haha.

    Reply
    1. Hi Ollie,

      This sounds odd: but why not try whatever position you’ve used on the couch, but while on your bed? Does it bother you the rest of the day, e.g. while you’re sitting?

      Reply
      1. That’s the odd thing. I usually sleep on my back and sides, rolling over during the course of the night. I tried what you suggested with the pillows under/between the legs, and that helps a bit. But I move around so much that the pillows often get tossed about as well, moving them from their position(s).

        Reply
        1. I should add that, no, my back doesn’t bother me when I’m sitting down.

          The issue isn’t so much back *pain* as it is back *tightness* or *stiffness*. My lower left back (right about the glutes) feels like it needs to “pop” as your knuckles or elbows when gas builds up. Almost as if someone were to pull on my left leg, that pressure would be released and all would be well…

          Reply
          1. Ollie,

            Sounds a lot like the gluteus medius point. Check that out in this article: http://modernhealthmonk.com/fixing-lower-back-pain

          2. Wow. Thanks for that. That seems like what it may be (trigger point).

            Another note, is that when I wake up with this stiffness/discomfort, it distorts the way I walk, to the point where I feel like my left hip juts way out to the side each step (to compensate).

            Watching the videos and such to see what I can glean from them. Thanks again!

  32. Hi Alex
    From last 2 months I have been facing shifting back ache while sleeping. The moment I get up in the morning I take some time to walk straight but after a while I m fine and back ache goes off n then at night the same cycle repeats itself. I recently got my vitamin D checked n the score is 4.5 does that have any relation to my back ache. I will try to follow the postures recommended by u. Meanwhile pls suggest do I need to see a doctor.

    Reply
    1. Hi Tina,

      If it’s serious, I would see your doctor. If not, take a week or two and experiment with my suggestions here and tell me how your back is doing.

      – Alex

      Reply
  33. Hi Alex,

    I’ve been waking up with back pain since almost 3 months now. I have been diagnosed with severe iron and vitamin D deficiency. I found out about those when I started waking up with leg pains, but those have gone now that I’m taking supplements. The back pain is a new development.

    I generally sleep on my stomach with one knee bent. I generally toss and turn all night. I’m not happy with my pillows but I can’t find that perfect pillow!

    I used to be a yoga enthusiast but stopped a year and a half ago. I’m thinking of starting again. Would you recommend the exercise considering my deficiencies and back pain issues.

    Reply
    1. Hi Sherry – where is the pain when you wake up?

      P.S. I would definitely suggest getting into yoga again!

      Reply
  34. Hi,
    So your saying that my new mattress that I just spent 1000 dollars for is not the problem? I seem to sleep differently on different beds, softer (more give) seems to be best for me as I switch positions often. After 2 nights on this new mattress I wake up with tight muscles between my shoulders lower back and it basically feels like my guts (lack of a better word) are sore. Your article makes sense, but why more discomfort with this new bed. Its a Perfect Sleeper Aldercroft Urotop, which feels good at first but may be a tiny bit firmer than maybe I need…but your saying it shouldn’t matter. Should I return the Mattress?

    Thanks, I’m getting desperate for a good night sleep.

    Reply
    1. Hi Michele,

      For me, I did the same thing. Spent $1200 on a brand new mattress that was soft and fluffy… and slept worse than ever. It’s impossible for me to say yes or no.

      If your shoulders are hurting, chances are your mattress is a bit soft, so your lower back is sagging. Try placing a pillow under your lower back while you sleep to keep the body straight.

      Reply
  35. Hello there Alex,

    I’ve been having the same problem for years now. It started when I was around 13-14, but the pain was tolerable back then. I’m 19 now and the back pains I get are so severe now that I can’t even sleep anymore. I fall asleep for around 30 min to an hour, then I’m rudely waken up by my sharp back pain. It used to just ache in my lower back, but now it has also reached my legs. I’m having a hard time bending my knees now because of it. I’m going to have it checked soon because I can’t handle the pain anymore – but thank you though, because your tips on sleeping positions helped a bit. It eased my pain for about 10 percent. :)

    Reply
    1. Hi Nastassia,

      So it’s almost a sciatic type pain that goes down your legs too?

      Reply
  36. As soon as my wife sleep on the bed straight for few minutes, she realize that at times, she cant able to move his right leg and the tension prevails and she want to move and sleep in side but she cant, in that I help her to move for side sleep but at the time of turning she weeps with the pain she get on waist.

    After some time the leg start functioning slowly.

    She under went surgery for Kidney stone some 12 year back.

    Reply
  37. Hello Alexander.
    I have been suffering from low back pain for 5 years now. I have had to sleep in a recliner for the past 3 years due to severe pain while sleeping. It came on suddenly and without injury. I will get intermittent periods lasting a couple months at a time when it flares up in the day with movement such as bending or climbing stairs but has been constant upon lying down for 5 years now. The pain is so severe it is almost impossible to get up after lying for one hour for my massage therapy. I have had x-rays with just some minor narrowing of the disk space they say age related (40) but nothing that can explain this severe of pain.
    I will try to move from my recliner back into bed with your suggestions. I hope it works! If you have other suggestions you think may help I would appreciate it.
    Thank you .
    Alina

    Reply
  38. Hi,
    I wake up in the middle of the night with middle /high back pain to the point I have to sleep sitting up the pain disappears after I get up and walk around for 5 minutes but as soon as I lay back down the pain is back I’ve tried every position and none seem to work any ideas

    Reply
    1. Hi Richard,

      Is it in between your shoulder blades?

      Reply
      1. It sounds like I’m having the same kind of pain and yes it is between my shoulder blades. Also when I lay on my stomach I feel discomfort on my sternum. Kind of like my bones are weak and I’m just bending them. I’m a mother of two and I haven’t slept all night even though both my kids have. The weird this is it isn’t always there. It comes and goes. I can go weeks without a problems and then one night when I lay down to sleep I just cant. I hAve tried diffrent positions and I have tried sleeping on the floor or couch a mat on the floor. I just can’t sleep with this discomfort.

        Reply
  39. Hi Alex,
    I found it useful. I am a software engineer and it first start on my upper back in between sholder and I can’t get gid of it. When I start some excersises from YouTube the pain also start in my lower back and it more painful then upper back. The exact point the last disk in lower back.
    This pain appear even when try to stand straight or even when I try to bent forward by let my hand touch ground. :( I am to worry can I become a normal again?

    Reply
    1. Hi Arslan – it’s impossible to me to really suggest anything without knowing more about your situation.

      Reply
  40. Great advice! Your analysis fits my case exactly!

    Reply
  41. i have pain in my right part of the neck and its going to my hand and right leg and after sleeping its become worse so kindly guide me what to do .

    Reply
  42. i have pain in my right part of the neck , shoulder , lower back .
    i am facing this problem past 1 year kindly guide me what to do .
    due to my profession i have to sit 8 to 10 hours on laptop .

    Reply
  43. I can only sleep on my side, but had terrible knee and back pain. I tried a pillow between my knees, but the big one woke me up when I tried to turn over, and I lost the small pillow when I turned over.
    So, I developed Sleepy Kneez, an ultra comfortable knee pillow that stays put all night, and doesn’t negatively impact the knee cap. Now, I sleep like a baby!

    Reply
  44. Hi! I’ve been sleeping with a pillow under my knees (I’m a back sleeper) because I know it’s supposed to be better sleep posture, however I notice I’m getting mid back pain because of it. I wake up stiff and sore in my back and as soon as I get out of bed and stretch a bit, it’s fine. Is it possible I don’t need a pillow under my knees or is it that my back is just getting used to the correct alignment? Thanks a bunch! :)

    Reply
  45. I’m a side sleeper and commonly find I’m laying on my arm (extended above my head) underneath my pillow. Lots of pain when I do this on the left side, not much issue when on the right side.

    Been trying to sleep on my back for the past week and am encouraged. Would the arm under the pillow exacerbate the condition?

    Reply
    1. Hi Steve –

      Does your lower back or upper back tend to hurt more?

      Reply
      1. Lower back. Left side specifically. When I sleep in that position on the right side (arm under pillow), no real back pain.

        Reply
  46. Hi Steve I am so happy I stumbled upon your website I hope it really helps me. I’ve slept on my side for years & I would also have my legs bent like in the fetal position even have my head back. I have been having lower back pain for quite some time now and to make matters worse I know work at a call centre so I am sitting at a desk all day. I do my best to keep great posture. But I will step it up a few notches also sleep in the positions you advise. Sure hope it works! Would you happen to have more advise for me? You see I’m 4’11 & I’m also kind of big chested. Also recently now share a bed with my bf. I’m going to sleep in the positions you advise and keep you posted. It’s 3am now so until tomorow take care & thank you for your great advice :)

    Reply
    1. Hi Jessica –

      Let me know how it works for you!

      Best,
      Alex

      Reply
  47. You show a pillow if there is still back pain sleeping on the side. The pillow should be firmer and targeted to the area from just below to just above the knee. Sleepy Kneez is small, firm, and attaches to the leg, so it doesn’t slide out during the night. Innovative design does not negatively impact the knee cap. Get a great night’s sleep. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xdYL2x76yY

    Reply
  48. Hi Alex,
    On and off I’ve had loads of pain with my lower back during the night and upon waking for a few years now. After two weeks of a return of this pain, I read your article yesterday. This morning I woke up to be able to stand up without wincing. Top tips, clearly explained.
    Thank you so much!
    Wendy

    Reply
    1. Awesome Wendy! That’s what I love to hear :-).

      Reply
  49. Hi,

    I have degenerative discs and the pain I can manage now during the day but when I lay down I can lay down for an hour and then pain. It seems to come from my lower back out to my hips. I can put my legs up knees bent and I get relief for a bit but then I feel worse. I can not sleep on my side either one and I use to move around at night so sleeping on my back is driving me crazy! I can put a pillow under my legs but it is not the same as having my knees completely bent. In the past I have not had issues sleeping and this is driving me crazy I never feel rested anymore and I can not stay in bed past 6:30 am no matter what time I go to sleep. I am taking hydromorphone for the pain and do not really want to go up in dosage.

    Thanks
    Renee

    Reply
  50. Excellent article. I commonly wake up with a sore lower back. Will definitely be employing some of these techniques to see if they help.

    Reply
  51. I learned the proper sleeping position from my physical therapist… been sleeping that way for years, and it does benefit the lower back. Now, however, I can no longer sleep on my side. My rib cage seems to get pushed in no matter how soft a mattress I use, a fierce pain develops in the middle of my back, not to mention in my rib cage (I can hardly breathe when I wake up from this). Any ideas?

    Reply
  52. I’ve not read all the comments but the article seems to be missing one massive, painfully obvious solution – fix your tight hamstrings and hips. Around 10 minutes a day for a few months should see your flexibility increased massively and your back pain limited to gone completely.

    Reply
  53. I always asleep on my stomach.When i wake up i feel back pain. but after two or three hours i didn’t feel. This is now the routine that every day i feel back pain for morning two to three hour and after i didn’t feel. When i sit on my computer chair i also feel pain. Its not so much pain but it is irritating.How to get rid of this.

    Reply
  54. I have deep lumbar curvature and i usually sleep on my back. but since few days i cant lie on my back because of pain in my lower back. i tried sleeping on sides but i can’t do it for long. As a result i always wake up in pain. The problem arises only when i sleep. i have even tried putting towel beneath my back but that didn’t help. what should i do?

    Reply
  55. I have been having back pain wake me up every night after @4hrs of sleeping on my back for the past 5+ months. I am unable to do your excercises 1,3,4 without extreme pain, but the #2 (B. Static Extension) is doable and offers some relief. I see a chiropractor regularly… I have on-going sacrum issues that come and go related to my menstration cycle (am a woman in my late 30s). I have tried sleeping on my side, but cannot maintain proper position, pain worsens. I have tried sleeping in a hard bed/surface; soft; medium; sitting up; elevated, etc. Nothing seems to help. Actually elevated was the way I slept throughout my pregnancy of my now 3yr old child and for @1-2 yrs after, so maybe I should go back to that. But the pain is really interferring with my sleep EVERY night. My chiro recommended a foundation exercise/stretch thing which was seeming to help at first, now my back pain is even more severe. What would you recommend?

    Reply
    1. Hi Cwhte,

      How is your back pain sitting or standing?

      Reply
  56. Hello Alexander,

    Hope you are good.

    I am suffering from a bad upper backache since last 3 months. Upper back has become too stiff, it pains even if i am looking left or right. I used to travel by bike initially but recently stopped since my office is approx 23 km away. My shoulder also pains a lot when i stretch it up. Recently i had some problems while sleeping because of that i tend to have some breathlessness and when i deep breath it pains my upper back more.
    It would be very helpful if you could figure out my problem and let me know how to get rid of it.
    Thanks in advance. Please do reply.
    warm regards,
    Nitin

    Reply
  57. Thank you so much.. This article was very helpful..

    Reply
    1. You’re welcome Preetam :-)

      Reply
  58. My back hurts when I lay down but I sleep with a pillow under my back. What wrong?

    Reply
  59. I have pain on my left shoulder blade it clicks some days i am fine other days i feel severe stiffness and muscular tension i just want it to go away as the rest of my body is relaxed and fine just the upper left back.

    Reply
  60. Iam hanging upside down like a bat :) no I have had middle back recently to and IAM quite heavy so 2 15 seconds stints of hanging off bar,I hope it works,this is only recently happening.will be back to report

    Reply
  61. Hi,
    I experience severe sharp pains when I wake up. It’s difficult to get out of bed without carefully moving to avoid an acute pain. Once I am up, the pain goes away after an hour or so and only hurts if I move suddenly, I get a sharp jab in my lower back. It was isolated to the right side, but has recently moved to my left side as well, though not as strong. I believe I have horrible posture, somewhat like your diagram of the kyphotic spine and as well the lordosis spine as in order to stand straight, my butt sticks out a tad. Are there any braces that you would suggest to help my posture and do you think I should change my mattress, I have an air mattress, sleep number. Thanks for your help.
    Don

    Reply
  62. Thanks for the article. As a kid I slept in one position all night, but after getting married and sharing a bed with a restless sleeper, I keep moving around a lot and my body can’t seem to find a comfortable position. We got a new mattress that is more plush with memory foam pillow top and that has helped everything except my upper back and neck. I use a thin pillow, but it still feels like things aren’t aligned correctly. Do you think I need a firmer mattress, or should I keep trying this one using thinner pillows? I tried no pillow while on my back for a few nights but it always made my neck stiff. Is there an adjusting period to wait for or is that a sign that I need a pillow? With my current pillow, sleeping on my back makes my upper back curve ache.

    Reply
    1. Hey Sara –

      I suffer from this one a lot too. You might want to try gently propping yourself up – for me, I can’t really sleep on thin pillows by themselves, but if I had a bit of thickness it seems to work. There isn’t really an adjusting period, however you might have a lingering stiff neck for a few days.

      Reply
  63. Hi Alex,

    I have lower back pain and right flank pain when I sleep. It will start as soon as I start lying down. The pain may get less as sleep progresses but as soon as I get up from bed log roll and get up there is pain more so on the right flank. I got up on this side. As soon as I put on an ice pack, the pain subsides and it is good when I stand up. Not much pain or no pain while going about. The same happens if I sleep during the day.

    Your advise would be most appreciated.

    Maung Khin

    Reply
    1. Hi Maung,

      Where on the right flank? Is it near your waist?

      Reply
      1. It is a little above and vertically, it is like where you apply the rubber ball to roll in one of your pictures (Quadratus Lumborum Point – a bit higher).

        Another point, I went on a diet about two months ago and lost 11 lbs. The belt is now two inches less, therefore the muscles and fat on the waist is less. Could this have an effect on the pain?

        Reply
      2. Hello Alex,
        I am sorry to ask now, I see this is from awhile ago, and I have read the comments, you know what you’re talking about. So, I am Baylee and I am 16, very physically active with sports (Dance, Gymnastics, Golf, Seimming, Track, and Softball I also recently stopped cheering after 10 years), I stretch daily and I maintain good health, I’m always hydrated properly, and I control my unhealthy foods. I am a cashier at Brooke Plaza and I stand and sit a good bit, probably equal amounts of time. I have cansistantly been having sharp mid to lower back pain. I notice it the most when I lay straight on my back, or when I lay at all. I have tried putting a pillow below my legs and one below my neck, it always seems to make things worse, I have tried to lay on my side with my legs bent towards my body and a pillow between my legs and neck with all the right arches. have gone to buying ASIC GelTennis Shoes, you probably know but they are shoes that a lot of nurses wear to help their backs. I have also had multiple different Nike and Under Armour shoes all in which make no difference, I have tried the Dr.Schols shoe inserts, I have had my food Dr. Prescribe me inserts. When I saw my foot Dr. She told me that my arch in my foot was falling but as long as I keep wearing my inserts daily I’ll be fine. If my feet worsen, that’s a different problem. When I am felling tense, I relax in a hot bath trying to warm and lossen the muscles. I have also tried to freeze my sore spots multiple times, it feels good for 2 hours then it comes right back. I hate to complain about my back pain because I believe it’s my own problem I can fix. I have a good matress about 4 years old, I have a perfect spine at least that’s what they tell me at physicals when they make me touch my toes as they feel my spine. My pain is slowly becoming intolerable, I went to the extreme tonight and I took a pain medication my doctor prescribed when I have my wisdom teeth removed. The pain is keeping me up at night occasionally. When I feel the pain coming I automatically try to stretch it out, I try for a hot shower but sometimes I have to settle for the middle of Kohls. I am usally great with pain. I don’t know what else to do except ask someone. my mom wants to take me to a back specialist but I hate going to doctors unless I have to. Please tell me what I can do to improve my pains. Thank you!

        Reply
  64. Hello, I have been getting pain around my lower and mid back area on left and right for a while know. It seems no matter what I do it doesn’t go away. It seems to hurt more when I sleep for more then 4 hours at a time. When I sleep for more then 4 hours the pain is bad, hard to breathe and it eventually goes away if I am sitting leaning my back on the arm of the sofa. I’ve had mri and cat scan taken, nothing shows in scans, I am lost and need help with this. Thank you kindly.

    Reply
  65. Hi I am a college student and I love using my laptop lying down on my stomach. I put a pillow under my chest so it is easier for me to type or use my keyboard or stomach. I’m doing this for months now.

    And recentyl I’ve been having a lower back pain. Right above my butt. Do you think that its because I bend my body too much when lying on my stomach?

    Reply
    1. Hi Shobe,

      Yes – 100%. If you lie on your back, you’ll see it go away quickly.

      Reply
  66. i am experiencing severe back pain in middle after i wake up and continue through out the day to an extent that i can’t even walk sometimes

    Reply
    1. How did it go trying these suggestions Mohsin?

      Reply
  67. Hello there
    I have read your article and some of the comments. My problem is my lower back i have had 2 csections one in 2007 n one in 2011 ever since my 2nd one i have had sciatica issues that cause my right leg to hurt neck issues like lots of tension shoulder issues pains in my shoulder blade n down my arm randomly and waking up with my back stiff any advice wuld be awesome. As i have developed anxities as well.
    Thanks

    Reply
  68. Well, i’m 14, and 2 years ago during basketball practice I did this special kind of leg lifting, and i remembered it while working out, (it was leg day), So i did it, i could hold it for 2 seconds before my lower back started to kill me, i didn’t understand; i looked it up and stumbled upon this, i’ll try this out, also, is there a way to sit while on the computer or just sitting to help my problem, it would really help, thanks.

    Reply
  69. Hi, Alex…
    Lately I’ve been experiencing some back pain at night only when I first lie down on my bed… After 5 minutes, the pain is nearly gone, but for those 5 minutes, the pain is excruciating. I gym regularly and do quite a lot of weight lifting. I’ve got my form and posture checked by a professional to eliminate that possibility but the pain still persists… What do you think is the reason for this?
    Love,
    Saana.

    Reply
  70. Hi, I have pretty bad upper back pain supposedly caused by (as told by my doctor): either high levels of stress or being big busted.
    I’ve tried lots of things to ease it but I can find very little relief, and any relief I do find is short lived.
    Can you help?

    Reply
    1. Hi Sarah – have you gone through this guide yet? http://modernhealthmonk.com/fixing-lower-back-pain/

      -Alex

      Reply
  71. I have a really soft matress does this affect anything its like you sink down when you rest on it

    Reply
  72. Hi,

    For the past few weeks, ive been experiencing a sharp stabbing pain in my back when i wake up. It dulls through the day, but flares the next morning. The pain seems to be just below or near the shoulderblade on the left side but i cant identify it exactly. Some help please?

    Reply
    1. Hi Dipankar,

      Start with this guide: http://modernhealthmonk.com/neck-and-shoulder-pain/

      Reply
  73. Thank you so much dear friend, I have been struggling with this pain since last 1 year and yesterday night I tried pillow below the knees and tdy morning I found 70% relieve in my pain, god bless you. Can u plz also help in knowing how can we permanently overcome this problem of tight hips.

    Reply
    1. Hi Savikar, you’re welcome. I would focus on hip flexors and other ideas here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lumbar_hyperlordosis

      Reply
  74. I have back pain when I sleep. I only hurt after a few hours in bed. Not just because I lay down. my back also hurts in the middle not in the lower back it hurt like it is my back ribs. What could be making that part of my back hurt?

    Reply
    1. Hi Patti –

      Does it hurt between your shoulder blades?

      Reply
  75. same problem…I have back pain when I sleep. I only hurt after a few hours in bed. Not just because I lay down. my back also hurts in the middle not in the lower back it hurt like it is my back ribs. What could be making that part of my back hurt? And it does not hurt between your shoulder blades? Please help me. It started 6 days ago. I am 22years old.

    Reply
  76. Hi,
    Thanks for the info.

    Rose

    Reply
  77. So for the past 2 years I have had back issues to the point of crying after walking for even 10 minutes because my back starts to hurt then goes stiff.
    The doctors blame my weight but it feels deeper than that, but they can’t see past the weight thing.
    This morning I was awoken by a agonizing pain on my right side middle area but also on the same pain at the front *same position*. Like a through and through pain. It psychically makes me want to be sick. I tried stretching but nothing. Please help if you can!!

    Reply
  78. Dear Alex
    I am pretty normal when I am straight as soon as I lye on bed straight or in any position my lower back hurts and even after getting up after 5 mins is deadly pain.same in the morning after sleep.

    Reply
  79. I had suffered from back pain in the morning for about one year. I just couldn’t sleep. Sometimes in happened after just 3 or 4 hours of sleep. I tried different mattresses and sleeping postures and it didn’t work. Then I realised that I sit in front of my computer for at least 8 hours a day. My sitting posture was not correct because I bent my back. One day I controlled my sitting posture (I didn’t bend my back) all day long and that was the first day I could sleep.

    Reply
    1. Love it Bogdan! This is exactly what I’ve found.

      Reply
  80. This info really helped. I was on my way to the dr. Funny because I have always slept in this position. My lower back on hurt when I slept and if I sweep my floors at home. The pain is terrible. I was afraid to move when I woke up. Now I sleep with a pillow under my knees that helps alot but I have to remember to sleep on my back and I have pain in my thighs.

    Reply
    1. That’s awesome Tiff! Let me know how else I can help.

      Reply
  81. I have no back pain during the day. At night I have severe UPPER back pain while trying to sleep. I have a CPAP machine, and sleep on my side. As soon as I get out of bed, the pain goes away. I am concerned. I cannot sleep in many positions, as one of my small children is afraid of the dark and sleeps with me. Can you please direct me as to what I can do? I don’t have a clue.

    Reply
    1. Reply
  82. I just have to say something, because I promised to help others. Mid back sharp pain, like someone stabbed you, so tight that you can’t breath wakes you up only after 4 hours of sleep, but no symptoms during the day? To go back to sleep you have to get up and walk it off, sometimes for an hour. It took me 3 hours in the morning to be able to dress myself. My pains lasted a year and a half, back, hips, chest. I TRIED EVERY MATTRESS AND EXCERCISE. My dad is a masseuse and we tried all kinds of stretching, X-ray showed no problems with my spine, but I wanted to rip it off my body EVERY NIGHT. Only a few months ago one doctor told me “what you have is yeast CANDIDA overgrowth that leaked through your intestine and causes spasm in your back.”Do one thing and you will love me forever. Stop drinking or consuming all DIARY, cut off sugars and yeast (bread, pies etc). Free sugar yogurt is fine, butter and sour cream are fine, because they are fermented and keep intestine flora balanced. In a week your pain will diminish to the level “Uncomfortable”, you will get your sleep back. I wish you luck, so many people don’t know and suffer extreme pain and sleep deprivation that could be fixed with diet. Go to your doctor and tell him to check if you have candida. I wish you the best. If you have questions, e-mail me

    Reply
  83. I know this is an old article, but just have to say, put some of these recommendations into practice last night and had the best sleep of the past couple of months!! THANK YOU!!

    Reply
    1. Happy to help Jacki :-)

      Reply
  84. can back hurt happened to kids?

    Reply
    1. Hi Rann,

      Yes, it’s possible. Have you done more research to see what might’ve caused it?

      Reply
  85. Hi Alexander, I am a dancer, and I’ve been trying your sleep positions lately for my lower back pain but for some reason it just makes my lower back (right by my tail bone) hurt even more, what should I do?

    Reply
    1. Hi Lily – then I would avoid it. Does it hurt when you aren’t sleeping?

      Reply
  86. Hi Alex.

    Got to say great post…but I have to say not all back problems are due to bad sleeping or posture..I have a medical problem witch causes me to be in excruciating pain…I could go on but I would be here forever trying to explain..so I won’t bore you or anyone else..but I would suggest ppl should really consult their GP before diagnosing them selfs.
    They could do more halm than good otherwise.

    Reply
    1. I 100% agree Tracey. Always best to see your doc first, during, and after.

      Reply
  87. Hi Alex:

    Do you have any advice for people that move around in their sleep? I always start in a position that’s good for my neck, but once in asleep I move into all these weird positions and wake up in a ton of pain. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    Reply
    1. Hey Kelly –

      This is tough if you move around alot, so my question would be this: Why do you move around a lot?

      Reply
      1. I don’t really know why I do. I just always have since I was a little kid.

        Reply
  88. Hello Alexander,
    I just wanted to write to you and thank you for creating this resource. I have been suffering with minor back pain, but it suddenly increased to a point that I became quite concerned. I began to dread going to bed at night. I just preferred to sleep on the couch recliner instead. After reading and viewing the three sleeping positions that you presented here, I tried sleeping on my back since you mentioned that this helps to re-position the spine. It worked like a miracle. Thank goodness that I found this post. I was about to schedule an appointment with my doctor until I tried your suggestion of sleeping on my back with the pillows under my legs. It really allowed my back to recuperate from its previous state. It took about 2 or 3 nights and I was without pain in my back upon waking up in the morning. After that, I tried the side position with the pillows between my legs. Wonderful!!! I wasn’t in crazy pain the next morning. I wonder why the pillow between the legs works? It is weird to do, since I’m not use to it, but I enthusiastically do it because I know that I won’t wake up in sheer and utter pain. I was having pain in my upper/middle back area (thoracic). These positions have given me quality of life. They worked that well!! Thank you, thank you, thank you! :-) I am have also decided to lose a few pounds. I think the extra weight I packed on over a 2 and a half year period,while getting my Master’s degree might be the cause of all this. It has been a little over 8 days and I have lost 10 pounds. I am going to lose a few more before I try sleeping without the pillows. Again I just wanted to thank you!

    Highest Regards,

    D. Ferguson

    Reply
    1. D. Ferguson,

      I’m very happy these resources have helped :-) Keep it up, and let me know how things are going. Email me anytime.

      -Alex

      Reply
  89. Good article. Your diagnosis of how various positions cause back pain is accurate. When I pull my knees up to my chest I get great relief from lower back pain. Sleeping flat on my back causes bad back pain after a short time. The better position for me is with the pillow under the knees to relieve the arch, but usually I have my upper body much more elevated with pillows. Unfortunately this still eventually leads to pain. I’m thinking I need to try putting the towel under the neck instead with less upper body elevation. I’ll try that. I would like to occasionally switch to my side, but this causes pain in either shoulder due to injury. I fractured my right clavicle when a tree branch fell on it, and the left I injured in a biking accident. Finding a nice sleeping position is a wonderful thing.

    Reply
    1. Hey Johnny,

      Definitely experiment a big and see what works. For me, I ended up just getting a stiffer mattress, sleeping on my back, then adjusting under the knees and under the neck until it worked. I also started doing 10 min of yoga in the morning to improve flexibility, and that helped quite a lot.

      Reply
  90. Had lower back pain for around 21 year’s after having kids. If I roll on my back in my sleep I can hardly move. going to try out your suggestions. Thanks

    Reply
    1. Please let me know how it goes for you Faith !

      Reply
  91. Hi
    I am Anil Kumar , i have a tremendous pain in my lower back and due to this i also have pain in my right leg. Due to this i am not able to walk properly, sleep properly and sit properly. I feel light swelling on my bomb also. So can u suggest me something like some exercise, sleeping position and drugs that are helpful for me in pain.
    I also want to know that if i try physiotherapy on this pain. Is it harmful for me or not.

    Reply
  92. Hi there
    Thank you for the article. I get lower back pain and right hip pain almost the moment I go to bed and it keeps me awake all night. I prefer sleeping on my side with a pillow in between my legs but it brings no relief. How long until one gets used to sleeping on your back! I am not used to it at all.

    Reply
    1. Carien, it typically does take me longer to fall asleep when sleeping on my back too. Is there any difference if you try on the left side?

      Reply
  93. What do I do if I have lower back muscle pain and it is causing me not to fall asleep. I have school on Monday and the pain isn’t going away

    Reply
    1. Have you tried this article yet? http://modernhealthmonk.com/fixing-lower-back-pain/

      Reply
  94. hey there i sleep on my stomach with one leg up idk if you know what im talking about but my back is always hurting mainly before and after i wake up please help what do i need to do?

    Reply
  95. I can I stop tilting my neck backwards at night?

    Reply
  96. Hello! I’ve Been starting to sleep on My back because I heard something about a better nights sleep Than if you sleep on your stomach and I’ve Been sleeping a lot better! Also I’ve Been trying to keep a straight back instead of hunching when I sit around in class. The only problem is that My lower backigas started to ache Every day and it’s hard to pic something up from the ground or even standing up and sitting down. Is there anything I should be concerned about? My back hasn’t ached before, for other Than menstrual pain. Thanks for your help!

    Reply
    1. Hi Elin,

      The best bet if your back pain is recurring is to go see your doctor.

      -Alex

      Reply
  97. My situation is not so much a problem with my sleeping, but when my spline get a little out of alignement during the day. This can be caused to hunching over a desk while working, bending over while shoveling dirt, even while holding on to handlebars while riding a motorcycle. What happens is that I get very very sleepy. Any time after this happens, my wife can apply hand pressure on my vertebrae and ‘snap’ the joints back into alignment. After this, I feel as if I have just awakened – feel great!
    I’ve never been able to find an article related to this back problem yet. So, it may not be so common. Any advice would be helpful.

    Reply
    1. Hey John – have you seen a doc for this?

      -Alex

      Reply
  98. Hi
    I am going through some serious pain in the lower part of my back. This generally occurs after a while , when I lie down on my bed in the evening or at night. The lower back hurts a lot. But through out the day, its just a normal day. No pain. I am unable to understand why is it happening mostly during the night after I lie down on my bed. Its happening for the past two months. My doctor says me it could be either of two things . Either vitamin D deficiency or symptoms of spondoarthritis. Please provide some advice .

    Reply
    1. Hi Sumit – where in the lower part of your back?

      Reply
      1. Just above the buttocks. The pain starts after lying down in my bed for some time. I try to bend my back and my body in the inverted U shape figure while standing. Any other time of the day, I can easily touch my toes without bending my knees. But during the night, I can only reach down to little below the knees and that too with extreme pain.

        Reply
      2. Hey. Pls reply aomething regarding my query.

        Reply
  99. My problem is: unconscious sleep movement. I will go to sleep properly, but i cannot stop myself from changing position and waking up in terrible pain. How can i fix this?

    Reply
    1. Hi March,

      In what position do you usually wake up in?

      Reply
  100. Hello!
    My doctor said I have 7 bulging disks in my spine and I always wake up with back pain thank you for these tips. :)
    Tam

    Reply
    1. Hi Tam,

      Definitely check with your doc before going through these to ensure it won’t cause further damage.

      -Alex

      Reply
  101. Just found this article while trying to find out why my back hurts so much when I wake up. I’m only 14 and my backs hurts like crazy whenever I wake up. I’ve tried these methods for a few nights and they only seem to help a little bit. Any tips on how to make the pain go away totally and permanently?

    Reply
    1. Hi RJ – where do you typically have the pain?

      Reply
  102. Hi Alex,
    I sleep on a memory foam king matress and I wake up every morning with an excruciating lower back pain. It’s so intense that I feel like crying. I can’t do anything in the morning until the ibuprofen works on it. The pain is all over my waist, maybe more intense on my left side.

    Reply
    1. Hi Diana,

      Does it only happen when you sleep?

      -Alex

      Reply
  103. Hi Alex – For the last 3 months, I have been having lower back pain, while turning sides. I have to be extremely careful while turning sides during night. This disturbs my sleep constantly. Moreover when I wake up, it pains to sit straight on the bed and getting up from the bed, to a standing position. The back is stiff and my walking posture is odd. But within one hour of getting up from bed, the pain disappears and back gets stronger as day passes. I have referred to Ortho and also have been to massage for a week. Do you have any suggestion?

    Thanks in advice.

    Reply
    1. Hey Vinoo – I would definitely check with your doc and see how the massage works first! -Alex

      Reply
    2. Hey Alex ,im now going thru this for almost 2 years.What was your outcome?? Ive seen everyone but now on my way to pain management. Almost at my end :(

      Reply
      1. Hey Jess,

        I sleep fine now- just keep going and be consistent.

        Reply
  104. Hey Alex! I am a gymnast and I have had the worst lower back pain and I have tried everything to fix it! I also feel like the way I’m sleeping and sitting is affecting my back pain also. Any tips on how to fix my back?
    Thanks!
    – Savannah

    Reply
    1. Hey Savannah – is the sitting or sleeping worse? Did you see this guide too? http://modernhealthmonk.com/back-pain-when-sleeping/

      Reply
  105. Hi about 2 years ago I broke my ankle, since Doing this I have walked a bit different to normal.

    Since the accident I have had severe back pain but mostly only when I sleep… I get to sleep ok but after a few hours it begins and it doesn’t stop, doesn’t matter how I lay or what I do it hurts wherever I change too…

    I also ended up in hospital about 6 months ago after not being able to move I was literally in unbearable pain could walk or sit or anything… The hospital said it was my c5 since then that hasn’t happened again but the back pain is ongoing

    Reply
    1. Hi Luke –

      Have you chatted with your doctor? If so, what did he/she say?

      -Alex

      Reply
  106. I’m convinced the cause of back pain originates from the state of back muscles, exercised and stretched vs stiff, hard, and ready to be used.

    I bought a new temperpedic mattress that is amazing but it didnt solve my problems.

    For many years I had lifted weights, and when I stopped for the past 4 years I suffered from poor sleep. Depression and a stiff body. Before bed I now will do some pull ups, bench press, curls and dumbbell squats. Enough so that I feel like my back has been used considerably, but not so that I will feel sore the next day.

    Since I’ve been doing this, I have been sleeping much better through the night and waking up feeling fully rested.

    My theory is that when the body has fully stored energy in the back, the signal to the brain is to go out and use that energy.

    Reply
  107. I have severe nerve compression from spinal stenosis 3 pinched nerves,but the stenosis starts from the thoracics and continues to the L5.. I had back surgery for a bad disc, it left me with drop foot on the left,I had to retire and walk with a foot drop brace and a cane.. I also had fallen on ice 3 years ago and fractured my sacrum and coccyx..Ive always has some mild back problems, I always blamed the childhood gymnastics for that, and have many chipped off bones in my neck, Im old 59 and our gymnastics were a little bit different than they are now, not as many ariels but many chest rolls and putting the feet beside the head while laying on the chest, kind of like you see in circus acts..lol, I have been a RN for over 20 years and a Nurse aid for 10 years prior to getting my nursing degree.. I have renamed my back and call it an “Old nurses back”All of my pain got worse after my fall and fractures, I think a lot of it was because I torqued my pelvis, once PT helped me realign it the pain went down some…I take medications for the pain and NSAIDS 3 days a week, until they have my stomach reeking in pain,muscle relaxers and I use my TENS unit 16 hours a day.. Steroid injections didn’t ease my pain.the pain clinic Physician said that according to the MRI there were too many nerve entrapments for him to safely give me the injections, but I found a Sports Physician that was willing to try and he did them, I was game for anything to relieve the pain..I knew the risks for the surgery and injection prior to getting them.I also have been diagnosed with osteopenia..the last couple weeks the pain is a 9 or 10 when I lay down,my poor husband hears me yell anytime he moves in bed…My pain is only about a 4 or 5 in the lumbar area when I am up and about or sitting, the meds rarely take my pain level below a 3.. it hurts when I touch around the fracture sight, it shouldn’t after three years but it does..the chiropractor , works on my thoracic and lumbar regions, she says my sacrum did not heal properly and sticks out and she doesn’t want to further injure that area..I have been wearing my SI belt to try to help, but its not working..any ideas to help me sleep would be appreciated…I will not have any more surgery, I worry that if I get drop foot on the right, I would no longer be drive..I have lost 25 pounds because they say that every 15 pounds that you gain is 60 pounds of pressure on the back and knees..Im 5 ft 1 and 140 pounds..I know its weird but I actually get jealous when I see 250 pound women out there jumping around with no pain, its like this pain rules my life..I can no longer work or enjoy things in life,I have to sit in a chair in the yard in order to play ball with my grandson.. I’m grumpy because of the pain and no sleep..I am lucky I have a loving husband, he is 65 years old and has been fighting 2 cancers for the past 8 years, he said I have always done my spousal tour of duty with him so now its his turn..most of the time I just get out of bed, its not fair for me to keep him awake all night, he needs his rest..Please help…and above all Thank You..

    Reply
  108. to avoid back pain while sleeping the best option is to use the lumbar pillow which helps you sleep in peace and relaxes your back..:)

    Reply
  109. Hi there,
    I have been experiencing tremendous pain in back while sleeping as a result i cant sleep. It is not the lower back but kinda in the middle, I am not sure what is the reason but it all strated after I slept in a chair for quick nap. Any suggestions would be wonderful.
    Thanks.

    Reply
  110. Do you know why my back hurts? I used to sleep in my side but for the past weeks i just couldn’t Sleep side ways because my back started hurting so i’ve Been sleeping on my back. At school or at home too my back just randomly hurts but when i try to figure out where it hurts i dont really know where specificly but it sometimes hurts in my upper back or lower sometimes in the middle too. It doesn’t like hell but the way it hurts is very uncomfortable. And I realize that if i put my back on a wall it helps me ease the pain.

    Reply
  111. Alex, you said something that rings true for me: “It took me years of waking up to throbbing neck muscles and spasming trapezius muscles, with a crap night of sleep, to realize this.”

    I’ve tried swapping mattresses (on a leesa now) and nothing works. I’m in enormous pain in my trap and upper neck. I’m constantly twisting cracking my neck during the day because of this. Primarily I’m a back sleeper, sometimes on the side. Swapped pillows too – just can’t solve this. But it’s the pain you describe. Thoughts?

    Reply
    1. Hey AR – yep, sounds just like me. Have you been going through this guide yet? http://modernhealthmonk.com/neck-and-shoulder-pain/

      Reply
  112. this helped so much! the pain went away immediately once I laid on my back instead of my side. thank
    you so so much!

    Reply
    1. :-)

      Reply
  113. For quite some time, I have been having right side hip pain that I feel down my leg. Also low back pain. I wake up at night within 2-3 hours with the pain. I get up and do stretches (which I also do before bed to try to avoid waking up). I have to apply heat to get back to sleep. I can’t even ever sleep on my right side. Don’t like back, but that used to work. Now that doesn’t work, even with a pillow under my knees. Any ideas?

    Reply
  114. Thank you very much. I have started a full time work about 2 weeks. And for some days I already felt back pain when getting up. At first, I thought that it is just result of less sleeping but it repeated again and again, so I do not want to get up any more. However after reading this article I realized that it is not about lack of sleeping. Cause my sleeping is normal

    Reply
  115. Hi just found your article on lower back pain. Cause for a while I’ve been waking up through the night with lower back pains. In a morning my back is really sore. Can’t bend down but I find walking around seems to ease the pain. I thought it was my mattress so just bought a new one. And still woke up with pains in my back.

    Reply
    1. Hi Anne, Have you had any luck going through this, or my main article? http://modernhealthmonk.com/fixing-lower-back-pain/

      Reply
  116. I found sleeping with a flat pillow under my back helps alot just have 2 get used 2 moving in when u change sides but its my only fix

    Reply
  117. Thank you!! I’m obviously late to the party here, but in 10 minutes of doing some of the exercises you have on here, my back pain disappeared. Hips and psoas muscles!!!! Who ARE you??? Are you in Los Angeles, by any chance?

    Reply
    1. Haha, glad it worked :-)

      Reply
  118. Last night i woke up at 2:00 clock suddenly i hear a sound from my backbone like its crack i cant understand what happen but there is a pain over their but i can walk , sit, sleep ,etc work. And ya after the sound from backbone i just faint for 20 mins. Pls. Help me find whats the problem.

    Reply
    1. Hi – you should see a doctor.

      Reply
  119. Hi alex i started to have lower back pain on january 2016 so i started to see a chiropractor even massages and then more chiropractors but i still have pain sometimes in my hips and sometime my middle back upper back and neck i think those adjusments got me worse but when i sleep on my side my hips hurt so bad that i have to wake up and walk around a lil idk what to do anymore im getting inpacient and i dont know what to do and who to see anymore as of today i still deal with back pain help please

    Reply
  120. Hi,
    Ive had terrible lower back and hip pain that wakes me up in the middle of the night. I can hardly get any sleep and its best to just get up early bc of it being so bad. This started when I was pregnant with my 5th and now she is 11 months old and its still very bad if not worse. I do co sleep and nurse her Im sure that has a little to do with it bc of my sleeping positions. Ive never dealt with low back pain ever in fact I always had upper back pain until now.

    Reply
  121. Hey, I am so ready to try the pillows and get rid of this back pain completely. I have the problem that I roll from side to side at night, and worried about keeping pillows in between my legs. Do you know a way to prevent losing the pillow?

    Reply
    1. Hi Elizabeth – I would try it first and see how it goes.

      Reply
  122. All very good advice if tou can stay in that one position all night but when I fall asleep I change position many times and after each positional change the pain wakes me up.

    Reply
  123. can you explain to me why my lower back hurts only in the morning?

    Reply
    1. Hi there – it’s probably due to how you’re sleeping.

      Reply

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