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The Best Sleeping Positions to Wake Up Pain-Free

Every night you go to sleep with the thought of waking up fresh, well-rested and ready for a new day. However, it all crumbles down upon waking up and realizing that your whole body hurts. Your neck is stiff, your lower back is killing you, and you feel more tired in the morning than the night before.

We’ve all been there, and usually, people get used to waking up in pain. But, things don’t have to remain like that. In the following paragraphs, we’re going to take a look at the best sleeping positions that will ensure your body rests and you wake up pain-free the next morning.

Why Do We Wake Up Tired, Sore, Unrested, And In Pain?

Before we get into the sleeping positions, let’s try to understand why we wake up in pain in the first place. Now, there are many reasons we wake up stiff and sore.

General physical discomfort upon waking up can be caused by various inflammations in the body, injuries, illnesses, aging, too little or too much exercise, etc.

Best Sleeping Positions to Wake Up Pain-Free, Terry Cralle, MS, RN, CPHQ, pain

Image Source: Terry Cralle, RN, MS, CPHQ

All of these factors can directly contribute to an uncomfortable and painful waking up or can affect the pain levels together with uncomfortable sleeping positions.

Therefore, alongside changing your sleeping positions, try stretching your body in the morning, changing your diet, and overall introducing healthy changes to your life.

Changing sleeping position alone may not help your body get rid of the stiffness and pain in the morning.

Make sure to avoid sleeping on your stomach (Note: this is for most people, if you prefer to sleep without a pillow, then this is your best sleeping position), as you flatten the natural spine curve and cause damage to the neck, back, hips, spine, knees, the respiratory system and the rest of your body, which then feels painful in the morning.

And, of course, try to lead as healthy of a lifestyle as possible.

What Are The Best Sleeping Positions For A Pain-free Morning?

best sleeping positions for a pain-free morning

Image Source: Terry Cralle, RN, MS, CPHQ

If you want to wake up in the morning without the persistent and annoying pain, there are two sleeping positions you should try out;

  • Sleeping on the side – sleeping on the side can ensure that the neck is in line with the spine and the rest of the body. This harmony can be easily disrupted when you use inappropriate pillows or bad mattresses.
    That is why it is important to get a pillow that fits perfectly in the neck area. The pillow needs to conform to the shape of your neck and should align your head and the neck in the middle of your shoulders.
    Side sleeping might also call for a pillow between your legs or under your waist, simply to avoid putting pressure on the critical points.
  • Sleeping on the back – to avoid pain all over the body in the morning, sleeping on the back is the best sleeping position.
    It is highly recommended by medical professionals that people suffering from neck and back pain sleep on the back in order to restore the pain and help place pressure on other body areas.
    When sleeping on the back, it is important to have a firm pillow that is able to conform to the curve of your neck and your spine. This will ensure that the neck is in line with the spine and the rest of the body.
  • Sleeping in the fetal position – this is one of the most common sleeping position for many people. It is similar to sleeping on the side, except when in a fetal position, your body is all curled up.
    Best Sleeping Positions to Wake Up Pain-Free, Terry Cralle, MS, RN, CPHQ, fetal

    Image Source: Terry Cralle, RN, MS, CPHQ

    When you curl up, you tend to curve your neck as well, which can be problematic for some people. To get the best out of this sleeping position, make sure to rest your arms in front of your body.

    This will help your upper body stay straight and avoid neck pain. Expecting women, who usually experience neck pain and pain in the lower back, should sleep in the fetal position as well.
    This position will encourage blood flow to the fetus, and help reduce the pressure from the neck and the upper/lower back.
  • Sleeping on the back + pillow adjustment and knee support – lying flat on the back is generally considered to be the best sleeping position for those experiencing pain after waking up.
    This sleeping position will reduce the pressure from your back by distributing the body weight and the pressure evenly across the whole body.
    However, if you want to wake up without pain in your body, you should consider adjusting your pillow; buy a pillow that fits the neck area and the natural curve perfectly.
    Moreover, make sure to also place a pillow under your knees for extra support and pressure relief. For extra support, you might want to place a small pillow underneath the curve of your lower back as well.
  • Sleeping on the side + legs adjustment and knee support – people who suffer from back and neck pain, and generally wake up with pain in the upper or lower back are also advised to sleep on the side.
    However, it is important to adjust the legs and pull them towards the chest while in this position. This will provide relief for the lower back and the spine.
    There won’t be any pressure on the nerves in your back, especially if you also place a pillow between the knees. This will ensure you keep this sleeping position through the night, without putting pressure on your legs, knees, and hips.

Sleeping Recommendation To Wake Up Pain-free

Sleeping recommendation to wake up pain-free

Image Source: Terry Cralle, RN, MS, CPHQ

In order to wake up pain-free, it is not only enough to adjust the sleeping position. It is important to pay attention to the sleeping environment and the sleeping aid as well;

  • Proper mattress – to wake up pain-free, make sure to invest in a proper mattress. A good mattress is somewhere between firm and soft, as is supportive of your spine and natural body curvatures and pressure points.

Editor Notes: Actually, there’s no magic on the mattress( that can help you get rid of any pain), what you can do is try to avoid low quality mattress, find the best firmness scale for you.

Most cases, you need several weeks(or even months) to decide if this is your mattress, but not several minutes in retail store, one good news is, most online brands offer a free trial (from 100 nights to 1 year).

It’s hard to find a ‘best mattress’, it depends on many factors, but for most people, we recommend a medium-firm mattress.

  • Body pillows – using body pillows to keep your body in control and to alleviate the pressure and the pain is one of the best things you can do to improve your sleep and health.
    By placing pillows under the neck, the lower back, between, and under the knees you are removing unnecessary pressure and providing extra support.
  • Avoid sleeping on the stomach – this is probably the worst sleeping position. It affects your spinal curvature and causes additional pressure on the neck, back, and hips. If you have to, remember to choose a proper pillow.
    Sleeping on the stomach can cause painful conditions, like spine damage, herniated disk, and pulled spine/back.
  • Proper bedtime routine – in order for the sleeping position and the sleeping environment to do their job, it is important to prepare properly for bedtime.
    During the day, make sure to stay active, hydrate and eat properly. Before bedtime, make sure to have a cup of tea, a warm bath and stay away from the TV, phones, and other monitors.
    It is important to relax both mind and body before sleeping, so you can wake up fresh, rested and ready for new adventures.


Waking up in pain might be one of the worst feelings ever. You have to deal with the pain the rest of the day, which can make you frustrated, annoyed, nervous, and groggy.

Therefore, make sure to change your sleeping position and find the one that fits you the best. We hope that the recommended sleeping positions will help you wake up pain-free. If these positions don’t provide the expected effects, and you still experience pain in the morning, make sure to discuss the issue with a medical professional.

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