Health & Longevity

What Are the Best Sleep Positions for Reducing Back, Neck, and Limb Pain?

How you sleep can affect how well you sleep. Sleeping in the wrong position can cause cramping, pain, and numbness. In the worst cases, sleeping in the wrong position exacerbates circulatory and nerve conditions, leading to severe complications.

In this article, we look at four types of pain—back, neck, arm, and leg—and the best sleeping positions for pain. Sleep disturbance due to pain can cause stress and discomfort throughout the day.

Best Sleep Positions for Back Pain

Back pain is one of the most common health complaints, both for otherwise healthy people and for people who are bedridden or suffering from other health issues.  Poor sleeping positions that put the spine and neck out of alignment can worsen back pain, no matter what the original cause.  A misaligned spine puts excessive pressure on the bones and muscles of the back, leading to pain during the night and the following day.

Sleeping on your back is the simplest way to ensure your spine is in proper alignment.  The supine position, lying face-up with your arms beside you, helps align your back, neck, and head in neutral positions putting the least strain on your back.

In some cases, sleeping on your back might make lower back pain worse, in which case you may consider putting a pillow under your knees or using the adjustments of a home hospital bed to lift your knees slightly. Raising the knees like this helps the spine to maintain its natural curvature.

In all cases, it’s vital to use pillows and a mattress that provides the right amount of support. The Supernal Sleep System includes mattresses engineered to correctly support the back and the limbs, reducing the damaging forces caused by poor support and helping to avoid back pain.

Does your back pain make it difficult for you to lower yourself into a supine position or to sit up after lying down? You may benefit from a home hospital bed such as the Supernal 5. This bed includes an electronic head adjustment that can gently raise and lower the top of the bed, in addition to foot, height (Hi-Low), and tilt adjustments.

Best Sleep Positions for Neck Pain

Much like back pain, neck pain is often caused or made worse by the misalignment of your spine. If you often wake up with stiffness and pain in your neck, the cause may well be sleeping in a position that puts pressure on the joints and muscles of the neck.

If you have neck pain caused by a different condition or injury, correct positioning may reduce the pain while you are in bed and help you to heal more quickly.

Both sleeping on your back and sleeping on your side can help with neck pain. But, however you sleep, you must ensure that your head is supported well enough to keep your neck aligned. It should not droop to either side on the pillow. Your chin should not be pushed too far towards the ceiling or pulled too far towards your chest.

If you choose to sleep on your back, use a flatter pillow that keeps your head in about the same alignment as you would naturally hold it when not lying down. You may also benefit from a smaller pillow or neck roll under your neck.

If sleeping on your side, use a higher pillow that supports your head while keeping the neck aligned laterally. Memory foam pillows are excellent for side sleepers because they conform to your shape, supporting both your neck and head in a positive position.

Best Sleep Positions for Arm and Shoulder Pain

Your sleeping position can put additional stress on your shoulders, back, and arm, especially if you sleep on your side. If you experience pain and numbness in your arms or paresthesia—a burning or prickling sensation—your sleep position may be causing circulatory problems or compressing a nerve.

Other conditions cause similar symptoms, including diabetes, multiple sclerosis, stroke, injuries, and more.

Sleeping on your back reduces the occurrence of arm and shoulder pain. Your sleep position can put strain on different parts of your body. Change your sleeping position to see if your symptoms are alleviated.  If you experience persistent arm and hand pain or numbness, consult a medical professional.

Best Sleep Positions for Leg Pain

Your sleep position can restrict blood flow which will cause leg pain and numbers.  But it may also be the consequence of a more serious circulatory problem.

Less severe leg pains can be caused by sleeping with your legs crossed or in another position that compresses nerves and blood vessels. Laying on your back with your legs next to each other may help. Also lifting your knees slightly with a pillow or hospital bed adjustment can help with circulation.

Leg cramps are a common issue and can be caused by a whole host of conditions. These positions include pregnancy, aging, the side effects of medication, and long periods of inactivity. Changing your position, regularly stretching and exercising can reduce leg cramps. If they become a serious problem, consult a medical professional.

Finally, leg pains and numbness often accompany poor circulation and heart disease. One of the best ways to alleviate leg pain caused by poor circulation is to lie with your legs above your heart. This position prevents the pooling of blood. There are various ways of achieving this position with a home hospital bed.

Beds such as the Supernal 5 feature a tilting mechanism to put you in the Trendelenberg position, lifting your feet above your head. The Supernal 5 can also be used in the Cardiac Chair position. Both Trandlenberg and the Cardiac Chair position are widely used to combat the symptoms of poor circulation.

We wrote extensively about How To Improve Circulation While You’re Sleeping or Bedridden in a previous blog article. Be sure to check it out to learn more.

If you would like to talk to a home hospital bed expert about how a Transfer Master bed and mattress can help you to achieve the perfect sleeping position, contact us today.

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Transfer Master has built electric adjustable hospital beds for the home and medical facility since 1993. We started with a simple goal that hospital beds should allow wheelchair users to transfer independently in and out of bed. Twenty-five years later, our customers are still at the center of everything we do. You’ll feel the difference.