How to Lengthen Your Spine With Sleeping Positions

People who sit at a desk to work most of the day often complain of lower back pain from remaining in the same position for extended amounts of time. Lower back pain is caused by sleeping on a mattress that is too soft, sitting in the same position for long periods of time, twisting while lifting a heavy object or compression of the lower vertebrae over a period of time. Lengthening the spine helps relieve pressure in the lower back, and helps reduce lower back pain.

A woman laying flat on her back in bed. Credit: StudioSandbox/iStock/Getty Images

Step 1

Purchase a mattress that provides good back support. While it is a matter of personal comfort, sleeping on a medium-firm mattress provides the best support, according to Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Dr. J. Talbot Sellers. If your mattress is not firm enough, you can place a one-half to one inch piece of plywood between the mattress and box spring to provide more stability. Sleeping on a hard surface will help your spine align naturally, helping to lengthen your spine.

Step 2

Lay on the bed on your side with your hips flexed at about 30 degrees. Bend your knees at about 30 degrees to help balance your body and flex your neck forward on the pillow to help elongate your spine. You may choose to place a small pillow between your knees to help keep your hips parallel while you sleep.

Step 3

Lie on your back on the bed and slightly bend your knees. Slide a pillow under your knees to keep them at about a 30-degree angle. Chiropractor Hans Delfo says the pillow beneath your knees can help support your lower body to assist in lengthening your spine and can also help decompress the spine. Place a pillow beneath your head to support your head and neck, keeping your neck in a neutral position.

Step 4

Select a pillow for your head that is made of down or memory foam and conforms to the shape of your head if you sleep on your back. If you are a side-sleeper, you may choose a pillow made of foam that has a support for your neck and an indentation for your head.

Things You'll Need

  • Firm mattress

  • Pillows


Don't sleep on a water bed because it is too soft and will allow your spine to sink and twist more easily than sleeping on a firm mattress.

Don't sleep on your stomach. Sleeping face down compresses the spine and actually shortens the length of the spine, leading to back pain and sometimes numbness in the limbs due to nerve compression in the spine.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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