Top 7 Tips for Patients with Neck & Back Pain from Sleep

Chiropractic for Neck and Back Pain from Sleep

Chiropractic for Neck & Back Pain from Sleep

            Chiropractors know that neck and back pain are among the most common ailments that patients want to have addressed. Low back pain affects 619 million people globally, and neck pain affects about 80% of people in their lifetime. Poor sleep habits and/or posture are often the culprit for the neck and back pain that many chiropractic patients suffer from. There are certain positions and recommendations that are best to offer patients to ensure they are in optimal neck and back health both in and out of the office.


Top Tips for Improving Back & Neck Pain During Sleep


         Many patients find that their current neck and back pain is either worsened with sleep or brought on by sleep, and a lot of this needs to be addressed both in and out of the chiropractic office. Sleep posture is just as important as waking posture, and it is vital that we educate out patients on the benefits of having both good sleeping and waking posture. While we as chiropractic providers have a plethora of information on what is best, we need to give a clear and concise run-down for our patients so that they can easily implement these optimal sleep habits to reach the results they’re seeking. It is important as chiropractic providers to be well-informed of the types of sleepers as well as how to address each with advice and resolutions to their neck and back pain.


  1. Try to sleep on the back – Also known as supine position, this is the best position to sleep in for chiropractic health, but can be difficult to implement for many who have not slept this way for a good majority of their lives. 
    • Use a firm mattress. In general, the more the patient weighs the firmer the mattress should be since the firmness on a mattress can be subjective. A mattress that provides support and also conforming to the curves of the spine is the main goal. 
      • If affordable for the patient, advise them to get an adjustable bed as these are great for sleep posture and quality as it will give the proper comfort for the individual. 
      • If an adjustable bed is not affordable, then a mattress with memory foam surrounding an inner spring core, also called a hybrid mattress, is a good option. Medium-firm is a good solution for comfort and support. 
    • To those patients who have anterior pelvic tilt, and in an effort to not exacerbate that tilt, have the back-sleeper patient place 1 or more pillows underneath the knees. This will flex the hips and open the joints in the lower back. 
    • Do not use an excess of pillows. 
    • Place the pillow close to the shoulders, and not too high on the head. 
  2. Try Side-Sleeping as the next best option – this is not as good as sleeping on the back, but it is still a decent position to be sleeping in when done properly with proper support. Many patients who sleep on their side still have neck or back pain because the neck is not aligned with the upper back with their pillow type. It is the same issue patients have when laying on the back, and that is having too many pillows or too flat of a pillow. A improper pillow won’t support the neck, shoulder or back properly. 
    • Remain as straight as possible, and try to keep the arms in front rather than under the pillow. 
    • Use a supportive pillow in between the knees. There are pillows specifically designed for this that fit around the thighs, and will keep the spine in neutral alignment. However, any softer pillow would suffice. 
      • A great pillow to recommend for patients to use is a memory foam pillow with a water core. A chiropractic or cervical pillow of your preference should be recommended as these pillows are supportive in any sleep position. 
    • Keep the pillow close to the top of the shoulders. 
  3. Avoid Sleeping on the stomach – Also known as prone position, this position is not advised especially in patients who have neck and back issues already. Stomach sleepers put strain on the neck and back automatically because it puts the spine in an unnatural position in all aspects. 
    • If the patient finds it too difficult to switch from their stomach to their back or side, they should use a thin pillow or no pillow at all. 
    • They should place the pillow under their arm, shoulder, and body allowing them to line up better with the head. Another pillow can/should be placed under the lower torso/pelvis to alleviate pressure on the spine, and put it in a more neutral position, especially those with hyperlordosis. 
    • Don’t use a pillow at all for the head or very flat. 
    • Advise patients that if at all possible, this position should be avoided while sleeping. 
  4. Maintain a neutral spine during sleep – to ensure less pain in the morning, patients should maintain a healthy sleeping posture, and using the optimal sleep positions to achieve this or using outside measures like pillows or a new mattress to obtain that shape. Additionally, using good posture during waking hours will aid in decreasing stress on the neck and upper back muscles. 
  5. Get the correct pillow and mattress – these can play a crucial role in managing neck and back pain for our patients. Investing in a firmer mattress can prevent the body from sinking into an awkward misaligned position while sleeping. Meanwhile having a supportive pillow will keep pressure off of the patient’s neck and upper back putting the neck in a neutral position. 
  6. Gently stretch before bed, and when waking up – this will help loosen muscles whether the patient is active or is going to be sitting behind a desk all day. Stretching will also improve strength and flexibility. Lastly, doing light stretches or gentle yoga will also decrease stiffness in the body. 
  7. Get chiropractic treatment – the best advice we can give as well as everything above is to incorporate chiropractic treatment to adjust any leftover misalignments in the spine even after implementing these tips. Our treatment holds value that patients can see results from, and also take with them after they leave the office.

Patients should also do their due diligence to manage their stress, apply warm compresses to affected joints, and stay hydrated. While these things may sound like they wouldn’t be applicable to their neck and back pain, we know they realistically play a huge role. Stress can cause issues sleeping, being dehydrated can cause the spinal discs to become less flexible causing pain, and applying heat to the joints can decrease stiffness. Chiropractic treatment and advice can make all the difference in a patient’s neck and back pain as well as their sleep health.