Back Pain After Sleeping

It’s quite common for people to feel some kind of back pain after sleeping. Feeling stiff, achy and even some pain is quite common in the morning until your body “wakes up”.

In fact our research shows that back pain after sleeping is a condition that has been increasingly researched online.

Below is a chart showing how many people are searching using the term “back pain after sleeping”

back pain after sleeping

Back pain is very common; according to a survey published in 2000 almost half the adult population of the UK (49%) report low back pain lasting for at least 24 hours at some time in the year.

In light of these worrying figures, we decided to consult one of our Back Care Experts, Gillian Smith, who is a qualified and experienced Chiropractor.

Gillian has consulted many people who suffer from back pain after sleeping and has provided valuable advice on what steps people can take to improve their condition.

Gillian Smith Chiropractor

Alleviating back pain after sleeping is a simple trial and error method.

It’s important to try solutions in a structured approach so you can see what works for your specific symptoms. So we’ve provided a list of things in priority order that you can explore to help alleviate back pain after sleeping and get a better nights sleep.


1. Proper Stretching

If you’ve ever had a dog or cat, you’ll notice that they have a good stretch before they start their day.

It’s the same for humans too, a good stretch in the morning will alleviate some of that stiffness and back pain after sleeping.

stretching back pain before sleeping

This is the first thing you try as it take the least investment in time is actually good for you.

If you don’t currently do any stretching to alleviate back pain after sleeping then you MUST try this first.

Remember, this won’t happen overnight. It’s important to work stretching up in a gradual way and push yourself a little further each time.If you have trouble stretching then it’s important to work up to a regime.

We’ve sourced a nice and easy 5 minute morning stretch you can do whilst laying bed. If you struggle with the stretches, try and do what you can and work towards the full 5 minute stretch.


2. The Right Mattress

A sagging mattress is the biggest contributor to back pain after sleeping. Victoria Lewis our Back Care Range Specialist imparts some of her knowledge.

Victoria Lewis Back Care Specialist

“The first question to ask yourself is whether you are sleeping better now than you were 12 or 24 months ago. A older mattress can deteriorate very quickly in this time and it will be a good indicator as to why you may be experiencing back pain after sleeping.”

“Ideally you need to increase your support so your spine does not get affected by an out of shape mattress or bed.”

how to choose right mattress

When choosing a new one, either try the bed yourself or speak to someone who has, that way you can get first hand experience of whether the bed is right for your back pain conditions or not”

When shopping for a mattress, use the comfort principle – Spend your money where you spend your time – On average we spend 7.5 hours a day in our beds! You can buy a good quality mattress for the same price as an iPhone! ;0)

 We’ve actually written a separate blog post which will help you understand how to choose the best type of mattress;


3. Sleeping Positions

The way you sleep has the biggest effect on back pain after sleeping. You don’t need to change the way you sleep, just adapt your sleeping conditions to suit your particular sleeping style.

Sleeping on your front can stress the neck and may cause stiffness on waking and misalignments in the vertebrae in your spine.

If you are going to sleep this way, ensure your pillow allows you to keep your spine neutral and correctly supported.

When sleeping on your back, your spine is lengthened, your shoulders are relaxed , the rib cage is free to expand and muscles are lengthened and relaxed. A Pillow under the knees also relaxes the back and muscles.


Side sleeping mirrors the recovery position to take undue stress off the body. A pillow between the knees will prevent the spine and pelvis from twisting. If you have a nice big duvet you can also put this between your legs if its more comfortable.

back pain when sleeping


4. Pillows

As we have touched on above, pillows play a huge part in keeping your back healthy. You should make sure that you choose a pillow that offers support without being too firm.

Your pillow should allow your neck to be in a neutral position in relation to your spine and shoulders as it would be if you were standing up with good posture.

if you sleep on your back or on your front, you should have slimmer pillows than if you slept on your side.

Pillows that mould to your neck will provide excellent support and remove the upper back pain after sleeping and also neck stiffness.

There is no quick win when it comes to alleviating back pain after sleep. It takes a combination of things that work together to create the best sleeping environment.

It just takes a little time, effort and research to see which combination works for you. Trial, experiment and focus on those areas that provide you the most comfort. However you will most likely find it’s a combination of things.


Key Takeaways;

  • Stretching before and after sleep will keep your back supple and feeling refreshed
  • A good quality mattress with the right mix of comfort and support.
  • Set up your pillows and duvets around the way you sleep.
  • Pillows will affect the comfort of your sleep, which will affect your back.
  • Make sure you take time to find the best mattress for a bad back.

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