Can Sleeping Position Exacerbate Pain?

Sleeping Position Can Either Improve or Worsen Your Pain

Sleep is an essential part of your overall health and well-being. Your body refreshes and heals itself while you sleep. Not only does your physical health benefit from sleep, but so does your mental health, as well. Getting the right amount of sleep is one of the best ways to manage your chronic pain.

However, how you sleep can impact the quality of your sleep. Sleeping in the wrong position can exacerbate your chronic pain. Often, those suffering from chronic pain (whether lower backneck, shoulder, or hip pain) can experience worsened symptoms if they sleep in the wrong position.

Even worse, this pain can affect your sleep and cause you to sleep in the wrong position. It’s a vicious cycle. The worse you sleep, the more pain you feel. The more pain you feel, the worse you sleep.

The pain management doctors at Texas Partners Healthcare Group understand the importance of sleeping well. Getting quality sleep can boost your mental health and improve your symptoms of chronic pain. Today, we will discuss some of the positions that can either worsen or improve your pain.

If you continue to suffer from chronic pain, do not wait. Give our Frisco pain management clinic a call today. 

The Importance of Sleep

Before we dive into sleeping positions, we should first discuss the importance of sleep. Millions of people suffer from chronic pain every day. The symptoms of pain can range from mild discomfort to life-altering pain. Several things can impact the severity of your pain, including sleep quality.

While chronic pain can lead to sleep deprivation, a lack of quality sleep can also increase your discomfort. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), those who do not get the expert-recommended seven hours of sleep each night are more likely to experience one of ten chronic health conditions.

According to the American Sleep Association, between 50 and 70 million Americans have a sleep disorder. When you don’t get enough quality sleep, the impacts can be significant.

Researchers at UC Berkeley conducted a study examining the brain activity of people living with sleep deprivation that also dealt with chronic pain. Their goal was to learn more about the connection between the two. They found that the area that processes bodily sensations experienced an increase in activity, which led to an increase in pain sensitivity.

Poor sleep quality not only increases your pain sensitivity but also lowers your pain threshold. That is why so many people with sleep disorders experience higher sensations of pain. Not only will getting quality sleep improve your pain tolerance, but it also allows your body a chance to heal and recover. Improving your sleep quality is an effective way to manage your pain. That includes sleeping in the right position.

Worst Sleeping Positions

The position you sleep in plays a significant role in how well you sleep, as well as the level of pain you experience. Even if you get enough sleep, if your sleeping position is poor, your symptoms might worsen. The consensus worst sleeping position among healthcare providers is sleeping on your stomach.

While it might seem innocuous, sleeping on your stomach puts a lot of pressure on your neck and back, which leads to neck strain and lower back pain. On top of that, sleeping on your stomach also affects your breathing. The fact that you can’t put your face down is why sleeping on your stomach is so unhealthy.

You have to twist your neck to one side to ensure you breathe, which puts a lot of unnecessary strain on the ligaments in your spine while putting vertebrae in compromising positions.

Other sleeping positions that can cause you more discomfort include:

  • Shoulder Pain: sleeping on your side without pillow support for your head
  • Neck Pain: sleeping on your stomach
  • Lower Back Pain: sleeping on your stomach or laying on your back without pillows underneath your knees
  • Hip Pain: sleeping on your back or stomach
  • TMJ Pain or Headaches: sleeping on your stomach or sleeping on your back with your arms behind your head

Fortunately, if you suffer from any chronic pain condition, there is likely a sleeping position that can help ease your discomfort.

Best Sleeping Positions

While chronic pain can disrupt your sleep, there are ways you can manage it. Regardless of the cause of your discomfort, there are specific positions that can help you find pain relief.

Healthcare experts will agree that your mattress plays a role in how well you sleep. You should find one that supports your spine, keeping it in a neutral position. You can also buy a foam mattress topper or extra pillows for added support.

Experts also strongly recommend sleeping with a pillow regardless of how you sleep. Use one to fill up the gap between your neck and the mattress to maintain a neutral position. If not, you put added strain on your neck.

Some sleeping positions that can help improve your symptoms include:

  • Shoulder Pain: sleep on your back, using a pillow to support your injured shoulder; avoid putting weight on it; sleep on your side on the opposite shoulder
  • Neck Pain: sleep on your back or side, using a small pillow to maintain the natural position of your neck; if laying on your side, use a thicker one and place it under your ear to support your head and neck
  • Lower Back Pain: sleep on your back, placing a pillow under your knees to support the natural curve of your spine; if you must sleep on your side, put a pillow between your knees
  • Hip Pain: sleep on your side, placing a firm pillow between your knees to evenly distribute your weight and keep your hips and pelvis in a neutral position
  • TMJ Pain and Headaches: sleep on your back with your arms at your side

Other Sleeping Positions

  • Fetal Position: sleep on your side with your knees tucked into your chest to reduce the bend in your spine and to open your joints (helps those with herniated discs); use a pillow to support your head and neck while keeping your back relatively straight
  • Reclined Position: sleep on your back in a slightly upright position to provide relief for neck, shoulder, or back pain, which improves blood flow while relieving pressure off your spine

Contact Our Frisco Pain Management Clinic

Sleep plays an integral role in your overall health. It allows your body to recover and heal itself. If you don’t receive the right amount of quality sleep, your pain threshold reduces while your pain sensitivity increases. How you sleep can also affect your pain. If you don’t give your body the support it needs, your symptoms will only worsen.

If you continue to suffer from chronic pain even with the proper sleeping position, contact Texas Partners Healthcare Group today. Our team of experienced and committed pain management doctors will work alongside you to accurately diagnose your condition and create a unique treatment plan just for you.