Spinal Hygiene

Learning To Sleep On Your Back


Individuals spend around one-third of their life sleeping or resting. Every person has their own preferred sleeping position. However, not all sleep positions are comfortable and supportive to the body, especially the spine. Individuals that sleep on their side or stomach that experience back pain might want to consider switching to sleeping on their back. Changing preferred sleeping positions can seem impossible,  however, learning to sleep on your back is possible with a little training and adjustment period.

Learning To Sleep On Your Back

After side sleeping, back sleeping is the second most common position. Individuals that are stomach or side sleepers that suffer from:

  • Body and back soreness.
  • Pain symptoms.
  • Tension headaches.
  • Heartburn or acid reflux.
  • Aches in the joints and ligaments.

Learning to sleep on your back is recommended because its health benefits can potentially solve all these problems and more.

  • Adapting this sleeping position can help maintain proper spinal alignment.
  • Relieves waking up with tension headaches.
  • Relieve sinus problems.

Individuals that are not natural back sleepers understand how difficult it is to force oneself to adapt to a new sleeping position. There are ways to condition the mind and body to fall and stay asleep on your back, resulting in healthy rest. These include:

A Pillow Under The Knees

  • It may help to place a supportive pillow under the knees.
  • The knees should be slightly bent and feel comfortable.
  • Check to make sure that the neck and spine feel comfortable and are in alignment.
  • Make adjustments as needed.

A Pillow Under The Low Back

  • In the beginning, switching to back sleeping can increase discomfort in the low back.
  • Placing a pillow under the lower back can help.
  • Using too large or thick a pillow could create added discomfort.
  • Try a few different pillows to find what works best and feels right.

Pillow Surround

  • Individuals that are active sleepers and tend to roll onto their side or stomach soon after falling asleep, can place pillows around the midsection and hips.
  • A small barrier of pillows around the body can assist in learning to sleep on your back.
  • The pillows help prevent the body from rolling.
  • It’s recommended to place pillows closely against either side of the body.
  • Using the pillows as an enclosure will force the body to remain in a neutral position throughout the night.

Sleeping On The Right Pillow

  • Individuals will want to make sure they are using the right sleeping pillow.
  • In addition to supporting the spine’s alignment, a quality pillow will also support the neck.
  • The recommended pillow for back sleeping should cradle the head and ensure it stays elevated.
  • A pillow that is too flat or too thick can cause the head to become unlevel with the body leading to:
  • Neck and upper body pain
  • Restricted airflow, which may cause you to snore or suffer from sleep apnea.
  • Digestive issues like acid reflux and heartburn.
  • Consider a pillow that’s made out of some type of memory foam to assist with learning to sleep on your back.
  • The thickness and hugging sensation can help to stay on the back and prevent inadvertently flipping over.

Sleeping On The Right Mattress

A positive back sleeping experience begins with the right mattress. There are so many mattress types to choose from. It is recommended to consider the materials, the firmness level, and the size. For comfortably sleeping on your back, the firmness level is essential.

  • Consider the positioning of your spine.
  • The objective is to keep the spine as straight as possible, which is achieved with the proper firmness.
  • A mattress that is too firm will create unwanted pressure and tension on the shoulders and the pelvic region.
  • A mattress that is too soft will cause the hips to sink, throwing spinal alignment off and causing back pain symptoms.
  • A medium-firm mattress is recommended.
  • Memory foam is a great option for learning to sleep on your back.
  • Memory foam cradles the natural curve of the body, and hugs the body during sleep, which helps avoid accidentally rolling onto your side or stomach.
  • Memory foam mattresses with integrated gel can provide cooling and ventilation to keep the body refreshed throughout the night.
  • A medium-firm memory foam mattress will make sure the body stays straight, with the proper cushioning around the pelvis and hips.

Training To Sleep On Your Back


Anderson, Ngaire H et al. “Association of Supine Going-to-Sleep Position in Late Pregnancy With Reduced Birth Weight: A Secondary Analysis of an Individual Participant Data Meta-analysis.” JAMA network open vol. 2,10 e1912614. 2 Oct. 2019, doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.12614

Desouzart, Gustavo, et al. “Effects of sleeping position on back pain in physically active seniors: A controlled pilot study.” Work (Reading, Mass.) vol. 53,2 (2015): 235-40. doi:10.3233/WOR-152243

Khan, Bashir Ahmad, et al. “Effect of bed head elevation during sleep in symptomatic patients of nocturnal gastroesophageal reflux.” Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology vol. 27,6 (2012): 1078-82. doi:10.1111/j.1440-1746.2011.06968.x

Portale, G et al. “When are reflux episodes symptomatic?.” Diseases of the esophagus: official journal of the International Society for Diseases of the Esophagus vol. 20,1 (2007): 47-52. doi:10.1111/j.1442-2050.2007.00650.x

Skarpsno, Eivind Schjelderup, et al. “Sleep positions and nocturnal body movements based on free-living accelerometer recordings: association with demographics, lifestyle, and insomnia symptoms.” Nature and Science of Sleep vol. 9 267-275. 1 Nov. 2017, doi:10.2147/NSS.S145777

Surdea-Blaga, Teodora, et al. “Food and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.” Current medicinal chemistry vol. 26,19 (2019): 3497-3511. doi:10.2174/0929867324666170515123807

Post Disclaimer

Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "Learning To Sleep On Your Back" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

Blog Information & Scope Discussions

Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, acupuncture, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

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Our office has reasonably attempted to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez, DC, or contact us at 915-850-0900.

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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

Licensed as a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) in Texas & New Mexico*
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