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Sleeping Positions You Should Follow for Aches and Pains

When you have aches and pains, even the best mattresses can come up short when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep. For those that suffer from temporary or chronic physical pain, how you position yourself for sleep each night can mean the difference between waking up refreshed, or waking up sorer than ever.

In general, health experts say that sleeping on your side in a loose fetal position (with knees bent slightly and arms folded in front) is the best position for overall health.

However, when you suffer from specific physical pain, some modifications are necessary. Let’s break them down:

Back Aches

If you suffer from back pain, especially lower back pain, sleeping flat on your back is the best position for sleep. Make sure that your spine is aligned straight (no angling). To accentuate the natural curve of the spin and provide added comfort, you might want to put a pillow underneath your lower back, and a rolled towel or smaller pillow underneath your knees.

Neck Pain

Have a crick in your neck? Tight upper shoulders? Avoid sleeping on your stomach if at all possible – that’s the worst position for those that suffer from neck pain. Sleeping on your stomach with your face turned to the side doesn’t provide the neck any support to relieve pain. Instead, sleep on your side or on your back with a feather pillow or a rolled towel placed at the base of your neck. This will provide the stability the neck needs and keep its natural curvature.

Shoulder Pain

It’s all about the support! If you have shoulder pain, you’ll want to either lay on your back, or on your side, but always with a pillow cushioning the shoulder that’s in pain. If sleeping on your side, you may also find it comfortable to place one pillow between your arms and one pillow between your knees. The worst position to take is laying directly on the side with the tender shoulder and no underlying cushioning.

Jaw Pain and Headaches

Tension in the jaw and head can make it tricky to determine which sleeping position will offer the most relief. However, the best option for those that deal with persistent tension in the jaw and head is lying flat on the back, with arms down alongside the body. Make sure you have a plush, comfortable pillow as well. You may find it most comfortable to double up on the pillows. Avoid laying on your back or on your stomach, with hands raised or placed behind the head in either position.

Sprained or Broken Ankle

While head pillows are your best friend when dealing with many other types of pain, in this case, you’ll want to lay on your back without a pillow beneath your head. Instead, form a stack of pillows beneath the injured ankle so that it’s elevated while you sleep. For a sprained ankle, use at least two. If your ankle is broken, you might need more, as you’ll want to make sure that your ankle is elevated above your chest.


A good night’s sleep is essential to managing physical pain, supporting the healing process, and maintaining good health!

For more articles on all things related to sleep and mattresses, be sure to explore the Shovlin Mattress blog.

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