Tips on How to Sleep with Pain in the Neck, Shoulder, Back

May 05, 2024 | 2 min read

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Sleeping with pain is challenging, whether it's in the neck, shoulder, lower back, or due to pregnancy. Understanding how to sleep with pain is important for maintaining overall well-being, promoting restful sleep, and preventing further strain or discomfort.

How to Sleep with Neck Pain?

  • To relieve neck pain, sleep on your back or side, in positions that support proper spinal alignment and reduce strain. 
  • Stomach sleeping should be avoided since it can exacerbate neck pain. 
  • The right pillow is crucial, so consider a cervical or memory foam pillow to keep your neck aligned. 
  • Gentle neck stretches before bed can reduce stiffness and improve flexibility while maintaining good posture during the day helps prevent further strain. 

If the pain is severe or persistent, consult a healthcare provider to identify the underlying issue.

How to Sleep with Shoulder Pain?

  • Sleeping on your back or the opposite shoulder can relieve pressure. 
  • Placing a pillow under your arm can also offer extra support. 
  • A medium-firm mattress with a supportive pillow helps maintain proper alignment, reducing shoulder discomfort. 
  • Gentle stretches before bed and avoiding repetitive shoulder movements can alleviate pain. 
  • Shoulder braces, cold packs, or heating pads may relieve inflammation. 

If pain persists and disrupts sleep, see a doctor for further assessment.

How to Sleep with Rib Pain During Pregnancy?

Rib pain during pregnancy is often caused by the expanding uterus pressing against the ribcage, especially in the later stages. 

Hormonal changes also loosen ligaments, causing discomfort, and the baby's movements can put additional pressure on the ribs.

  • Pregnant women should sleep on their left side to improve blood flow and reduce rib pressure. 
  • Place pillows between the knees and under the belly to minimize discomfort while supporting the growing belly. 
  • Gentle stretching exercises, prenatal yoga, and breathing techniques can relieve rib pressure and enhance relaxation. 
  • Full-body or wedge pillows offer overall support, reducing rib pain. 

If discomfort remains severe, consult a healthcare provider for further guidance or treatment options.

How to Sleep with Lower Back Pain and Sciatica?

Lower back pain and sciatica can be incredibly uncomfortable, making it difficult to find a sleeping position that relieves pressure and promotes restful sleep. 

Sciatica affects many people throughout their lives, with the BJA publication estimating its lifetime incidence to be between 13% and 40%, so it is important to understand effective strategies to alleviate pain and sleep more comfortably.

  • Sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees can reduce strain, or on your side with a pillow between your knees to keep your spine aligned.
  • Pillows that support the natural curvature of the spine and align the hips can alleviate pressure on the sciatic nerve.
  • A medium-firm mattress can provide optimal support, reducing lower back pain and ensuring spinal alignment.
  • Gentle stretches like pelvic tilts or knee-to-chest exercises can reduce tension in the lower back and ease pain.

If pain persists or becomes severe, consult a healthcare provider to explore targeted treatment options.

How to Sleep with Tailbone Pain?

Tailbone pain, also known as coccydynia, can make it challenging to find a comfortable sleeping position. The pain often stems from prolonged sitting, injury, or, in pregnant women, pressure from the growing baby.

  • Sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees can relieve direct pressure on the tailbone.
  • A medium-firm mattress that provides consistent support and a small pillow for the lower back can improve comfort.
  • Special cushions or tailbone cut-out pillows offer relief by preventing direct pressure on the tailbone area.
  • Gentle stretches and short walks before bed can relieve stiffness around the tailbone and ease pain.

Seek medical advice if tailbone pain is persistent, worsens over time, or interferes significantly with daily activities.

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