The Basics

The best sleeping positions for pain

From time to time, people contact me with something they think my readers would benefit from knowing. I send a lot of thank-you-but-no-thank-you emails (consider me your very strict, no-nonsense gatekeeper) but, on occasion, someone sends me something golden.

When Amica got in touch with me, she said she had a list of the best sleeping positions for people with injuries and pain. I was intrigued; I don’t think I’ve ever given a second thought to my sleeping position. I get in to bed, wriggle around to try and find a position that doesn’t hurt, and hope for the best. There’s certainly no logic to my approach.

When Amica introduced herself to me she asked me,

What do these things have in common?

Buttered toast landing face-up,

not looking in other people’s shopping trolleys at the checkout line,

eating just one slice of pizza,

falling asleep when everything hurts.

The answer: They’re almost impossible tasks.

I couldn’t argue. But also, who the hell is trying to eat just one slice of pizza? Madness.

Amica explained that the correct sleeping position isn’t a cure-all by any means, but you can alleviate certain aches and pains by choosing the right position. Apparently, if you don’t currently own an arsenal of pillows, now is the time to stock up.

Flanking yourself with pillows can prove to be extremely helpful; especially if you find that you often rollover during the night and suddenly awaken in a fit of agony.

The following graphic, courtesy of Dromma Bed, outlines the different sleeping positions for managing site-specific pain. If you’re experiencing pain in your arms, feet, or ribs, you can still use the positions that they recommend for broken bones.


Before agreeing to share the graphic, I wanted to test it out. You know what? It actually helped. It’s a bit awkward because you’ve got pillows all over the place, but it’s really interesting to feel relief in parts of your  body when pressure is taken off other areas.

My neck’s been particularly bad lately, so I followed the relevant graphic and found that going to sleep was easier, and I woke with less pain.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Edit: Since I’ve been testing mattresses and sleeping with various pillows in odd places, I thought I would share this information from

With so many mattress company’s on the market and the current state of the mattress industry (hint: shopping for a mattress is definitely moving to be an online experience) it can be really difficult to navigate all the options and tell what is gimmick from what will actually improve your sleep quality. If you suffer from chronic pain, there’s no room for error or messing around, one bad night’s sleep can really do some lasting damage on your body. It never hurts to have more resources, and you can find more information put together by on what to look for here.


12 comments on “The best sleeping positions for pain

  1. I sleep with stategically placed pillows every night and find it to be very helpful. I have low back and sometimes knee issues, so I sleep with a couple under my knees. I also sleep with one under my right arm while falling asleep because the extra support seems to reduce pain in that arm. Once I roll to my side, I have the one between my knees. lol It seems to really help with low back and hip pain. Whatever you discover, I hope you’re able to get quality sleep each night. 🙂 🙂


  2. The one that doesn’t work for me personally is the lower back one as sleeping on my back means certain agony in my back for me even with a pillow under my knees- Side sleeping is all that works for me.

  3. meggieprice

    I find sleeping on my back means agony in my lower back , pillow or not. Side sleeping is the only thing that works for me, with a pillow between my knees. If I deviate- I pay dearly.

    • Similar for me, if I end up on my back I get stuck and it really hurts to move and get up. My hips, pelvis and lower back all creak and crack too 😮
      Bit like a tortoise when it gets stuck on its back 😉

      I have a bed rail which is a great mobility aid for such problems, makes me feel old at 44 but necessity took over pride 🙂

      Healing fluffie hugs

      • Having a bed rail sounds like a fantastic idea! 🙂

      • Oh! I was so embarrassed at getting one because I was only 39yrs young. Joint instability is a real plague of a health problem 😘 I soon became grateful for the bed rail and didn’t care what folks thought. If in the UK you can apply for an assessment to find out what your needs are. They have many gadgets that can help with an assortment of issues including bed rails and perching stools for instance.
        If not I would consider investing in one ☺

  4. You can never have enough pillows, under the feet, behind the knees, under the hips, between the knees, under the small of the back, under the waist on the side or tummy, under the arms for referred pain from the shoulder( rotator cuff injury and arthritis) under the upper back and head to take the strain off the neck and shoulders. if all else fails lie on a line of plump pillows with no covers, the cold calms the nerves by taking the concentration off the pain and onto a different phenomenon of the cold experience. If all else fails lie and meditate and wait for morning. Avoid jumping out of the window, as it probably would not have the desired effect anyway.

  5. Pingback: Friday 5: Dec. 22, 2017 fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and Lyme news + giveaway | Fed Up with Fatigue

  6. Jantilly, you are worth more than a thousand pillows! May you have a very healthy body’s! May God bless you always!

  7. Hi 👋 my body pillow is my best friend. You can move, twist and bend in all directions and it reduces the need for so many loose pillows.

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