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Back Safety: Sleeping Positions

Good posture protects your back when you sit, stand, and walk. It is also important while sleeping. Keep your ears, shoulders, and hips in line. Try the tips below. Also, be sure to follow any guidelines from your healthcare provider.

If you lie on your back

Man lying on back in bed with pillows under legs.
Place pillows under your legs from your thighs to just above your ankles.

Ask your healthcare provider how firm your mattress should be.

  • Find a position that keeps your back aligned and comfortable.

  • Fill gaps between your body and the mattress with pillows.

  • Never sleep on your back without bending your legs.

  • Never sleep on your stomach.

If you lie on your side

Man lying on side in bed with pillow between knees.
Support your upper body and top leg with pillows.

  • Bend your knees.

  • Place a pillow between your knees to reduce strain on your hips and spine.

  • Sleep on a firm surface.

Turning in bed

  • If you change positions, you will need to move your pillows. This can become so natural that you hardly wake up.

  • When you turn in bed, move your whole body as one unit.

  • Tighten your stomach muscles. Bend your knees slightly toward your chest.

  • Roll to one side, keeping your ears, shoulders, and hips in line. Keep a pillow between your legs.

  • Be careful not to bend or twist at the waist.

Online Medical Reviewer: L Renee Watson MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Turley Jr PA-C
Online Medical Reviewer: Thomas N Joseph MD
Date Last Reviewed: 5/1/2020
© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.