Supporting Your Back In Bed

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Osteopathic Consultant

Chris is a professional osteopath who qualified from the  European School of Osteopathy with an Integrated Masters of Osteopathy (D.O. M.Ost.), so what he doesn’t know about your body isn’t worth knowing. Learn more about our team.

Supporting your back is very important whether sitting on your desk working or lying on your bed to rest or sleep. When you don’t have lumbar support, you are more likely to experience lower back pain, which can be uncomfortable and interfere with your productivity.

Additionally, giving your back enough support as you sleep ensures that you sleep for a long uninterrupted period. This will help you to wake up refreshed and without any lower back pain.

So do you want to give your back the support it needs while sleeping or sitting up in your favorite position? Read on to know more about how you can support your back when you’re in bed and why it is vital for proper alignment of the spine and back pain issues.

Table of Contents

Benefits of Supporting Your Back In Bed

There are various sleeping positions, and everybody has a specific position they sleep most comfortably in. Some people find that sleeping on their stomach is the most comfortable position, while others find that sleeping on their side or back is the best way to get a good night’s rest.

However, whichever position you choose, proper back support has various benefits, as we will discuss below.

Spinal Alignment

Osteopath manipulating the patient's spine during a consultation

Spinal alignment is very important when you are sleeping. The spine’s alignment can be affected by our posture, sleep position, and the way we carry out daily activities.

If your back isn’t aligned with its natural curve, this causes stiffness and muscle tension, leading to pain and discomfort, decreased flexibility, and range of motion.

The spine, as you know, is part of the nervous system. And if it is injured or in distress, that can cause all sorts of problems, including pain, tingling and numbness, muscle weakness, and more.

Your doctor may advise you to sleep with a therapeutic backrest pillow for the additional support your back needs as you heal or during rehabilitation.

Reducing Neck and Back Pain

Lower back pain can make you miserable and prevent you from doing your daily activities. It can also be very costly if you see a physical therapist or buy medication. Fortunately, there are some simple steps that you can take to help relieve lower back pain.

One of the best things that you can do is to exercise regularly. This will help to strengthen your back muscles and improve your flexibility. It would help if you also tried to maintain a healthy weight, as excess weight can strain your back.

Another thing that you can do is to use a medium-firm mattress and prop-up pillow to support your back as you sleep. That way, you will ease the pressure off the painful pressure points, thus reducing low back pain.

One of the causes of neck pain is sleeping poorly, which causes you to wake up with a stiff neck. When you sleep, it’s best to use a pillow that will support your head and neck so that your neck does not strain when it bends while you sleep.

It Reduces Acid Reflux

Woman suffering from acid reflux

Acid reflux is the backward flow of stomach acid and digestive juices into the esophagus. This can cause heartburn and problems such as difficulty swallowing, chest pain, and a hoarse voice.

If you sleep on your back, support your lower back, and make sure your head is above the level of your heart, it will reduce acid reflux. This is because by adopting this sleeping posture, gravity will stop the contents of the stomach leaking back to your esophagus.

Puffy Eyes

Puffy eyes are a common problem that have various causes. When you sleep on your stomach, it puts pressure on the muscles and blood vessels around your eyes. This can cause the fluid to build up and cause puffiness. Although this issue mostly affects stomach sleepers, it can also affect people who use other sleeping positions depending on mattress firmness and how they support their backs in bed.

There are several ways to support your back and neck while you sleep so that you don’t experience puffy eyes in the morning. One way is to use a pillow that supports your head and neck. You can also use a firm mattress without putting pressure on your muscles and blood vessels.

Sleep Apnea And Snoring

Woman blocking ears with hands while snoring in bed

Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder characterized by disruption of breathing during sleep. The person typically starts to snore at sleep onset while breathing ceases intermittently, leading to inefficient sleep patterns.

Besides not getting quality sleep, sleep apnea can also lead to other health concerns. It has been linked to hypertension, heart disease, and stroke conditions.

Elevating your back when sleeping reduces sleep apnea. This is because when your back and neck are elevated, your airways will remain open, and thus you can breathe better as you sleep. Ensure you use high-quality pillows such as memory foam pillows for the best support.

Snoring is the vibration of respiratory structures and the resultant sound due to obstructed air movement during breathing while asleep. Therefore when you sleep with your head and neck elevated, you will also prevent snoring, which can disrupt your partner’s sleep.

Problems Associated With Sleeping In An Inclined Position

If you have a history of blood clots, you should consult a doctor for professional medical advice before trying to sleep in an inclined position. Sleeping in an inclined position can lead to the formation of blood clots when limbs  stay in the same position for a long period – effectively causing deep vein thrombosis.

Whether or not you have any risk factors for forming clots during sleep, human anatomy dictates that part of your body will have to navigate uphill when sleeping in an inclined position. This interferes with blood flow through the veins and arteries due to gravity.

Delaying getting treatment for clotting disorders can increase your risk factor for developing pulmonary embolism, a potentially life-threatening condition caused by one’s lungs being completely blocked by the embolus. This is why if you find that you are at risk of developing a clot, it is important to consult with your doctor as soon as possible.

Sleeping in an inclined position could also lead to other health problems. Sleeping with your head turned sideways while you’re sitting up, for instance, while watching television, puts pressure on the carotid artery, which carries blood from your heart into your brain.

How Can You Support Your Back Sitting In Bed

Apart from supporting your back on the bed as you sleep, it is vital to support your back as you sit on the bed to rest, such as when you’re settling in for a bedtime book session on your top reading pillow. Get into the semi-upright position by propping up your upper body with pillows. Put your arms in a relaxed position as if you’re about to hug someone. Alternately, bring your knees close to your chest and cross them at the ankles.

If you don’t use these back support tricks when you sit up in bed, you’ll likely be taking tension through the front of your necks instead of using all three pairs of neck muscles (the scalene muscles), which is harder when using just one pair at a time. Using these tricks, you can give yourself maximal comfort while sitting up in bed.

Additionally, you can use the headboard as a backrest and add pillows for extra support.

Why Your Back Hurts When You Sit Up And How You Can Prevent It

There are a few potential reasons why your back might hurt when you sit. One possibility is that you’re sitting in an incorrect position. Another possibility is that you’re sitting in a too comfortable position, and your muscles aren’t getting enough stimulation. You may also be sitting in a position that’s putting too much pressure on your back, causing pain.

You can prevent this by sitting on a bed chair back support that props your back and gives it support. Additionally, do not sit slouched or hunched; instead, lean back on a good sit up pillow so that your back maintains a natural curve.

Additionally, while a good sleeping posture helps you get a good night’s sleep and wake up well-rested, a poor sleeping posture aggravates your back, shoulders, and neck.  Therefore you can sit up and experience back pain because of a bad sleeping position. You can easily solve this problem once you identify if your sleeping position is to blame and pain relief methods such as supporting your back as you sleep.

How You Can Support Your Back In Bed

An adjustable bed is the most efficient way of supporting your back, but there are other ways you can achieve this. Here is how you can support your back as you sleep without changing your sleeping position:

How You Can Support Your Back In Bed

As A Side Sleeper

For side sleepers, supporting your back as you sleep is important because most people will put weight on the arm closest to the headboard, leading to numbness and pain in the chest and arm.

To support your back and enjoy a side sleeping position, ensure you put a pillow between your knees. This will help keep your spine in neutral alignment and prevent the twisting of your hips.

It is also important to support your neck as a side sleeper to reduce the risk of developing neck pain. Place a pillow under your head and ensure that it is not too high or too low. This will help keep your spine in neutral alignment and prevent the twisting of your neck.

If you sleep in a fetal position, you can use pillows to support your back. You can place one pillow between your legs and another pillow behind your back. This helps keep your spine in a neutral position and decreases the chances of developing back pain.

As a Front Sleeper

If you prefer stomach sleeping, you can also place a pillow between your knees to help keep your spine aligned.

As A Back Sleeper

Your back needs support if you are a back sleeper; you can do this by putting a pillow in the small of your back and scooching up to it. You can use a backrest pillow for general support and lumbar support pillows for low back support.


Even the best sleeping positions are not perfect, and thus, it is vital to understand how you can support your back or your entire body to get quality sleep and improve your overall health. Additionally, side sleepers, back sleepers, and stomach sleepers always have their own benefits and health risks, if the back is not well supported.

Do not hesitate to ask your doctor to provide medical advice on whether you need bed-back support or not.