The Sleep Experts


Sleeping with chronic back pain

lower back pain

Sleep is one of the most important activities in our daily lives, just as important as eating or breathing. Sleep, or lack of sleep, impacts our appearance, our energy levels, our brain function and has a large impact on our physical and emotional health.

As we get older, our sleeping patterns may change, we may become tired more easily and we may need to go to bed earlier. These are all normal changes as we age. Back pain, neck pain as well as aching joints and muscles are one of the most common sleeping problems as we get older. This usually stems from conditions such as arthritis.

Here is a simple guide to improving sleep when in pain:

Choosing the right mattress:

The main cause of stiffness and pain while in bed is sleeping on the wrong mattress. The best mattresses for back pain are often memory foam mattresses. These mattresses cradle the body for the best support, allowing your body to hold its natural shape, relieving pain, and discomfort.

Choosing the correct bed:

Electric adjustable beds can bring ease and comfort to those with mobility issues. This is because electric beds help reduce the strain sitting up and lying down can cause on the back and joints. Many of these beds are made so that they are not too low to the floor, this is important as this reduces the need for stooping or pushing off the bed, making getting in and out easier.

Correct sleeping positions:

Lying in the correct sleeping position and using pillows for support can help reduce back pain. Avoid lying on your stomach, lie on your back or side, using pillows to support between the knees and the lower back. It is important to avoid staying in bed for too long if at all possible. Lying in bed for longer than necessary only increases the stiffness of the joints and muscles.

Trigger point foam roller

Using a trigger point foam roller before bed will help relieve tension in the muscles. By applying pressure to a specific area, this helps break up and release tightness, reducing pain and discomfort while in bed. (Always consult your physiotherapist before using a trigger point foam roller).

Improved posture:

Maintaining a good posture throughout the day will help eliminate discomfort while sleeping at night. This will help reduce pressure on the neck and back while reducing tension in the muscles. Walking is a great way to improve posture as it forces people into the natural upright position.


Regular visits to a physiotherapist are advised for those who struggle to find relief from pain while sleeping. A qualified physiotherapist can advise on various exercises, such stretches to increase flexibility, followed by massages to specific areas. This will help loosen stiff muscles and joints and provide a certain amount of pain relief as well as increasing mobility and movement.
Sleeping with chronic pain can be extremely difficult and upsetting; we believe that implementing some of the changes outlined above can help you finally get a good night’s sleep.

For more information on bed rest and sleep tips, take a look at our blog.