health

The Unbelievable Way Your Sleep Position Is Causing You Physical Pain

by Phil Mutz
Phil is an Editor at LittleThings. He loves writing and the outdoors. You can often find him at the movies or the park.

My mom used to tell me how important it is to get a good night’s sleep.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become better at going to bed at a reasonable hour to get as much sleep as I can. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t wake up with soreness and tightness in my muscles. I’ve always thought that it was normal to wake up sore. So when I found out that the position I sleep in could be causing my pain, I knew I had to do something about it right away.

Dr. Steven Park, author of Sleep, Interrupted, told WebMD that “fatigue, sleep apnea, headaches, heartburn, and back pain are some complaints that can be aggravated by improper sleep posture.” I didn’t realize that my sleep position would have such an impact on the pain in my body.

Luckily, there are also sleeping positions that can help relieve body pain. The Mayo Clinic writes, “By making simple changes in your sleeping position, you can take strain off your back.” While this should never take the place of advice from your doctor, I am so glad I know this now. I’ll be switching up the way I sleep right away!

Scroll through below to see five sleep positions that cause pain and five sleep positions that help to ease pain.

Will you be trying a new sleep position to relieve your soreness? Let us know in the comments.

Please SHARE if you find this as helpful as I do.

Five Sleeping Positions That Are Causing You Pain
1. Neck And Back Pain From Sleeping Facedown

how sleep position causes pain
LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

It is nearly impossible to sleep with your face directly in the pillow, as it restricts your breathing. As a result, sleeping on your stomach requires you to turn your head to one side. This can cause a large amount of strain on the neck, leading to pain throughout the day. Also, laying facedown means that your spine is completely unsupported, which can cause extreme back pain.

2. Shoulder Pain From Sleeping Like A Starfish

how sleep position causes pain
LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

When you sleep on your back with your hands above your head, you are actually putting pressure on the nerves in your upper back. As a result, this sleep position can lead to shoulder pain. While sleeping on your back is good for spine support, the soreness comes from the starfish position created by the extended arms.

3. Arm, Back, And Shoulder Pain From Sleeping On Your Left Side

how sleep position causes pain
LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

When you sleep on your side with your arms out, you are actually restricting blood flow and putting a large amount of pressure on your nerves. This can leave you with soreness in the shoulders and arms. Your back is also unsupported, which can lead to upper and lower back pain. In addition, this position can put a strain on your internal organs like your stomach and lungs.

4. Arm, Back, And Shoulder Pain And Heartburn From Sleeping On Your Right Side

how sleep position causes pain
LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

When you sleep on your right side, specifically, you are going to experience the same soreness as on the left side in terms of shoulder, arm, and back pain. However, laying on the right side can also increase acid reflux. Doctors also recommend avoiding this position on the right side if you are pregnant, because this position restricts blood flow to the fetus.

5. Back And Neck Pain From Sleeping In Fetal Position

how sleep position causes pain
LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

The fetal position is actually one of the worst sleep positions because of its complete lack of support for the neck and spine. Neck and back pain is common with this position, particularly as a result of the curvature of the spine. Curling up in a ball like this also can restrict your breathing, which can keep you from getting enough oxygen and a good night’s sleep.

Five Sleeping Positions That Can Help Relieve Pain
1. Reduce Back And Neck Pain By Sleeping On Left Side

how sleep position causes pain
LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

This sleep position, on your left with your hands down by your sides, actually supports the spine in the position of its natural curve. As a result, back and neck pain can be largely reduced. And as an added bonus, this sleep position is great for reducing snoring.

2. Reduce Back And Neck Pain By Sleeping On Back

how sleep position causes pain
LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

When you sleep on your back, your spine is much more supported, which can cut down on soreness in the neck and back. Keeping your arms by your sides reduces strain on the shoulders as well. This position has been known to lead to snoring, but at least you won’t be in as much pain.

3. Reduce Back Pain By Sleeping With Pillow Under Knees

how sleep position causes pain
LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

Sleeping on your back with your hands by your sides is already great for your spine’s health. However, if you continue to have soreness in your lower back, you can sleep with a small pillow under your knees. This helps your body to maintain a healthy curve in the lower back. If need be, you can also use a rolled-up towel under the small of your back for even more support.

4. Reduce Back Pain By Sleeping With A Pillow Between Knees

how sleep position causes pain
LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

Placing a thick pillow between your knees can keep your torso from uncomfortably twisting when you are sleeping on your left side. Just draw your legs up slightly with the pillow between your legs to take strain off of your lower back. Be sure not to extend your arms out, though, or you will put strain on your shoulders and arms.

5. Reduce Lower Back Pain By Sleeping On Stomach

how sleep position causes pain
LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

Sleeping on your stomach is not ideal for your neck because it can cause strain. However, if you aren’t experiencing neck pain but are experiencing lower back pain, try placing a towel or small pillow under your stomach and groin. This will help you to maintain proper lower back alignment, which will reduce your lower back pain in the long run. If this position causes you to feel any upper back strain, you can try sleeping without a pillow under your head.

Will you be trying a new sleep position to relieve your soreness? Let us know in the comments.

Please SHARE if you find this as helpful as I do.