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Sleeping Positions to Reduce Back & Hip Aches

author image Kay Uzoma
Kay Uzoma has been writing professionally since 1999. Her work has appeared in "Reader’s Digest," "Balance," pharmaceutical and natural health newsletters and on websites such as She is a former editor for a national Canadian magazine and holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from York University.
Sleeping Positions to Reduce Back & Hip Aches
A man asleep in a bed.

Your days and nights can be ruined by back and hip pain caused by a poor sleeping position. When you sleep in an uncomfortable position for too long, it puts strain on your muscles and causes stiffness and discomfort.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, or NINDS, back pain is second only to headaches as a neurological illness. Sometimes hip pain may originate in the lower back. These body aches may be confined to just one area or they may shoot or radiate throughout your back or hips.

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Risk Factors

You're most likely to experience these body aches as you get older, usually between age 30 and 50. Sleeping on a soft, lumpy mattress, being overweight or having a spinal problem such as a slipped disc or a degenerative disease may also contribute to back and hip pain. Women who are pregnant may also develop both hip and back pain. The hip pain during sleep may be due to hormonal activity that loosens ligaments during pregnancy.


Back and hip pain from poor sleeping positions causes you to toss and turn and lose sleep. Sleepless nights can make pain worse and take a toll on your daily activities, work and quality of life. They can make you less productive at work, increase your risk of injury, or affect your concentration.

A lack of sleep also disrupts hormones that regulate appetite, which makes you more prone to being overweight or obese. Untreated pain can become chronic, putting you at risk for anxiety disorder and other types of emotional distress.


Change your normal sleeping position. After years of favoring one sleep position over another it may be difficult to change, so give it some time. Sleeping with a pillow under your legs while sleeping on your back, or between your knees when sleeping on your side, can also provide pain relief. Sleep on a firm mattress and regularly turn your mattress over to help maintain its firmness. Strengthen your back and hip muscles through exercises that target the muscles in those areas. Proper posture when sitting, standing or doing activities such as lifting will help to keep muscles strong and in good shape.


Over-the-counter painkillers may help you cope with back and hip pain. However, they are also tough on your stomach and liver. Some pain relievers may also interact with other medications you're taking. Try some natural methods such as applying ice or a heating pad- although you should never sleep with one. A warm bath may also soothe those aches and pains. A massage with a capsaicin cream may also reduce inflammation and pain after about three to seven days, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. If you are overweight, losing those extra pounds will also help.

When to See A Doctor

Prevention and at-home treatment relieves many cases of back and hip pain. However, if your aches don't subside after three to seven days, you should consult a doctor. Your pain may be due to a more serious problem such as a bulging disc, skeletal irregularity or arthritis. Your doctor will assess your symptoms, perform neurological tests or computerized tomography (CT) scan, and recommend further treatment.

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