How to Sleep with Scoliosis: Achieving a Good Night’s Sleep

Medically reviewed by
 Dr. Jordan Burns DC, MS

Dr. Jordan Burns DC, MS

Meet Dr. Burns, a devoted chiropractor with an extensive seven-year professional career dedicated to optimizing patient health. With an academic background in Kinesiology, Life Sciences, and Sports Science and Rehabilitation,…

Last Updated On January 1st, 2024
How to Sleep with Scoliosis: Achieving a Good Night’s Sleep

Key Takeaways

  • Prioritize Supportive Sleep Positions: Choose sleep positions that align with your spine’s natural curve, such as sleeping on your back with knee support or using a body pillow for side sleeping. Avoid stomach sleeping to minimize discomfort associated with scoliosis.
  • Opt for Proper Pillows and Mattresses: Invest in cervical pillows supporting the neck’s natural curve and mattresses that distribute weight evenly. Customized scoliosis pillows, mattresses, and proactive measures like physical therapy are crucial in improving sleep quality.
  • Consider Holistic Sleep Factors: Focus on maintaining shoulder blade alignment, ensuring a straight spine, and addressing any scoliosis-related lung issues. Experiment with these factors and different sleeping positions to discover the most effective combination for achieving a peaceful night’s sleep.

Achieving a good night’s sleep can be challenging for individuals with scoliosis. The pain and discomfort caused by this condition can significantly impact sleep quality and overall well-being. However, there are ways to improve your sleeping position and relieve pain.

“Sleeping with scoliosis presents unique challenges, and it’s crucial to recognize the impact of spinal curvature on sleep quality,” says Dr. Jordan Burns. “Emerging insights from studies Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source emphasize the importance of tailored sleep solutions for individuals with scoliosis, considering both comfort and spinal alignment.”

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This article will explore the best sleeping positions for individuals with scoliosis and provide tips for achieving a restful night’s sleep. Discover how small changes in your sleeping environment can significantly improve your spinal health and overall quality of life.

Read on to learn more about how to sleep with scoliosis and say goodbye to sleepless nights!

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Understanding Scoliosis and Its Impact on Sleep

Scoliosis is Verified Source Medline Plus Online resource offered by the National Library of Medicine and part of the National Institutes of Health. View source a medical condition characterized by an abnormal spine curvature, typically manifesting as a sideways curve. The spine may take on an “S” or “C” shape, and this condition can develop during childhood or adolescence. The degree of spinal curvature can vary, and in some cases, scoliosis may cause noticeable asymmetry in the shoulders and pelvis.

This abnormal curvature can directly impact your ability to sleep comfortably. If you have scoliosis, you understand how challenging achieving a good night’s sleep can be.

Several sleeping positions are available, but not all are created equal. Depending on the severity of the curvature of your spine, you may find it difficult to find a good sleep position that doesn’t cause back pain.

Before we dive into the best sleeping positions for back pain and scoliosis, let’s explore how scoliosis can affect sleep.

When your spine is not in a neutral position, it can put pressure on various parts of your body, causing discomfort and even chronic pain. Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source The neutral position is where your spine is straight and aligned. In this position, your spine is in good health and is experiencing less stress.

Therefore, finding a sleeping position that mimics the neutral position can help promote spinal health and allow you to sleep more appropriately.

For individuals dealing with scoliosis, their spines are already subjected to adverse spinal tension caused by the uneven forces resulting from the unnatural spinal curve. Opting for a sleeping position that exacerbates this stress will only heighten associated pain and discomfort, worsening symptoms.

Scoliosis can greatly impact your ability to fall asleep fast and achieve a good night’s sleep. By understanding the importance of the neutral position and its role in promoting spinal health, you can explore the best sleeping positions for your needs.

“Research in ‘The Lancet Neurology’ highlights the intricate relationship between spinal health and sleep,” says Dr. Burns. “For those with scoliosis, choosing a mattress and pillows that provide optimal support to the spine is paramount. Practical adjustments, such as using a body pillow to maintain a neutral spine position, can significantly enhance sleep quality.”

Sleeping Positions for Scoliosis

To cut to the quick, if you have scoliosis, you should avoid sleeping on your stomach. This position leads to unnatural curving of your spine, causing intense pain and discomfort. Instead, try to find a good sleeping position that supports your spine’s neutral alignment.

In our research, we recommend sleeping in positions that provide ample support to your entire spine. Consider utilizing pillows to provide neck support, keeping your spine straight for enhanced comfort. Sleeping flat on your back with a pillow under your knees can be an excellent option for getting a good night’s sleep with scoliosis.

It’s crucial to note that finding a comfortable sleeping position can take time and experimentation. Take the time to explore alternative sleep positions and find the one that suits your unique spinal curvature. By finding the right position, you can minimize pain and discomfort, allowing you to enjoy a peaceful, restful sleep.

“Navigating sleep with scoliosis involves a blend of ergonomic choices and mindful sleep practices,” says Dr. Burns. “The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source experimenting with different sleep positions to find the one that minimizes discomfort. Additionally, incorporating gentle stretching exercises into a daily routine can contribute to maintaining spinal flexibility and alleviating tension.”

Sleeping on Your Back with Scoliosis

Individuals with scoliosis often find relief by sleeping on their back in a straight and neutral position. This position can help align the spine and reduce pressure on affected areas. Additionally, this sleeping position is highly recommended for scoliosis patients, particularly those with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.

Moreover, sleeping on your back ensures that the body’s weight is uniformly distributed and absorbed by the spine and its surrounding muscles. This positioning minimizes additional stress or tension on the spine and, when paired with a proper mattress for back sleeping, provides a more supportive and comfortable sleep environment.

To achieve a comfortable sleeping position on your back, start by finding a supportive mattress. Look for a mattress that distributes your weight evenly and supports the natural curves of your spine. Next, place a pillow under your knees to help maintain a neutral spine position.

For those with a curvature in their lower back, adding a small pillow or rolled-up towel under this area can also provide additional support. Experiment with different pillow placements to find a comfortable sleeping position that works for you.

Keep in mind that it may take some time to adjust to sleeping on your back, particularly if you are used to sleeping on your stomach or side. Be patient with yourself and give your body time to adapt to this new position.

Sleeping on Your Side with Scoliosis

Sleeping on your side is often recommended by healthcare professionals as one of the best sleeping positions for scoliosis. It’s important to sleep flat on your side to support your body’s central nervous system and reduce pressure on your spine.

To achieve the best sleeping position on your side, place a pillow between your legs to help align your hips and pelvis and keep your spine in a neutral position.

Another option is to use a body pillow to provide additional support to your entire spine while sleeping. Some body pillows wrap around most of your body to limit movement and provide support.

Side sleeping can also help treat scoliosis by encouraging the spine to elongate and promote spinal alignment. However, while sleeping on your side can be beneficial for individuals with scoliosis, it’s essential to consult with your healthcare provider to determine the best sleeping position for your specific condition. And make sure you have a proper mattress for side sleeping, too.

Sleeping on Your Stomach with Scoliosis

Stomach sleeping is a common position and might provide comfort to individuals suffering from scoliosis. However, it might not be the best sleeping position for those with scoliosis due to the strain it puts on the neck and spine.

When a person sleeps on their stomach, it can misalign the spine, causing pain and discomfort. This sleeping position puts pressure on the neck, leading to neck pain. It also forces individuals to turn their heads to one side, leading to stiffness and discomfort. As a result, it can make the scoliosis condition worse by increasing the curvature of the spine.

It’s essential to maintain proper spinal alignment while sleeping to alleviate pain and avoid worsening the condition. Sleeping on your stomach causes the spinal curves to become exaggerated, resulting in spinal pains. It can also diminish your lung and sleep breathing Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source capacities.

While some individuals find comfort in stomach sleeping, we recommend individuals with scoliosis to avoid it, as it can lead to discomfort, and neck pain, and affect spinal health.

The Importance of Pillows and Mattresses for Sleep with Scoliosis

When it comes to achieving a good night’s sleep with scoliosis, the right pillows and mattresses can make all the difference. Cervical pillows, which feature a curved design that matches the natural shape of your neck, can provide significant pain relief and help to keep your spine aligned throughout the night.

You can also use small pillows or rolled-up towels to support your spine in various areas. Depending on the type of your spine curves, consider the following: For a double or S-curve, a common pattern, use two pillows—one under the rib cage bump (usually on the right side) and another under the apex of the lumbar curve. This arrangement helps maintain proper spinal alignment when lying on your back and prevents twisting.

Meanwhile, a supportive mattress for back pain can help distribute pressure evenly across your entire spine, reducing discomfort and promoting a more restful sleep. Ideally, opt for a medium-to-firm mattress that offers adequate support without excessive give when lying down.

If you choose to use a mattress topper for added comfort, avoid thicknesses exceeding 2 or 3 inches, as such a mattress topper could compromise the underlying support provided by the mattress. For some patients, side sleeping can also be beneficial if you maintain the correct position.

But it’s not just about finding the right pillows and mattresses – proactive treatment is also key. By addressing scoliosis-related pain and discomfort through techniques like physical therapy and chiropractic care, you can take control of your spinal health and improve your overall quality of life.

Whether you’re dealing with moderate scoliosis pain or just looking to improve your sleep quality, investing in customized scoliosis pillows and mattresses, and taking a proactive approach to treatment can help you take charge of your sleep and your spinal health.

“Creating an environment conducive to restful sleep is essential for scoliosis patients,” says Dr. Burns. “Beyond mattress and pillow selection, consider optimizing your sleep environment. Dim the lights before bedtime, maintain a consistent sleep schedule, and explore relaxation techniques. These measures, backed by sleep medicine principles, can foster a conducive atmosphere for quality sleep despite the challenges of scoliosis.”

Additional Tips for Better Sleep with Scoliosis

Achieving a good night’s sleep with scoliosis involves more than just finding the correct sleeping position. It’s essential also to keep your shoulder blades aligned, maintain a straight spine, and address any scoliosis-related lung impairment.

Keep Your Shoulder Blades Aligned

Shoulder imbalance is a common issue caused by scoliosis. If your shoulder blades are not aligned properly, it can lead to muscle imbalances and pain in the neck and upper back. To keep your shoulder blades aligned, try sleeping with a small pillow between your shoulder blades. This can help prevent them from rolling forward while you sleep.

Maintain a Straight Spine

Maintaining a straight spine while sleeping is essential for individuals with scoliosis. This can help alleviate pain, prevent any further spinal curvatures, and improve pelvic positioning. To achieve a straight spine, try sleeping on a supportive mattress and using a cervical pillow to keep your neck in a neutral position.

Address Scoliosis-Related Lung Impairment

Scoliosis-related lung impairment can significantly impact sleep quality and overall health.
The condition can impact breathing by affecting the position and function of the ribcage, potentially reducing lung capacity and making it more challenging for individuals with severe curvature to breathe deeply.

If you have scoliosis-related lung impairment, it’s essential to consult with your healthcare provider for treatment options. In the meantime, try sleeping with your head elevated to improve breathing and reduce lung-related discomfort.

By implementing these additional tips for better sleep with scoliosis, you can achieve a more restful night’s sleep and wake up refreshed.


Does scoliosis get worse with age?

The progression of scoliosis can vary from person to person. In some cases, scoliosis can worsen with age, particularly during periods of growth such as adolescence.

However, for many individuals, the curvature remains stable throughout adulthood. Regular monitoring by a healthcare professional and appropriate interventions, such as physical therapy or bracing, can help manage and, in some cases, slow down the progression of scoliosis over time.

What sleep position is best for scoliosis?

The best sleep position for someone with scoliosis can vary based on individual comfort and the specific curvature of the spine. Often, experts recommend sleeping on your back as it helps maintain a neutral spine position. Placing a pillow under the knees can provide additional support for this position.

If sleeping on your back is uncomfortable, side sleeping with a pillow between the knees can help. It’s essential to experiment with different positions and use pillows strategically to find what works best for relieving any discomfort associated with scoliosis.

Should I sleep without a pillow if I have scoliosis?

Whether or not to use a pillow when you have scoliosis depends on personal preference and comfort. Some individuals with scoliosis find relief by sleeping without a pillow to maintain a more neutral spinal alignment, especially if they sleep on their back. Others may prefer using a thin or contoured pillow to support the natural curves of the neck and spine.

Experiment with different pillow options and sleeping positions to determine what feels most comfortable and supportive for your condition.

What should I avoid if I have scoliosis?

If you have scoliosis, avoiding activities that may exacerbate spinal curvature or cause discomfort is advisable. Heavy lifting, particularly with poor posture, can strain the spine and should be cautiously approached. Prolonged periods of sitting or standing without breaks can also contribute to discomfort, so it’s important to incorporate movement into your routine.

Engage in exercises that strengthen the core and back muscles under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Additionally, maintaining good posture, finding the best positions for sleeping with scoliosis, and avoiding excessive twisting or bending can help manage symptoms associated with scoliosis.

Is it good to sleep on the floor if you have scoliosis?

Sleeping on the floor may not be suitable for everyone with scoliosis, as individual preferences and comfort levels vary. Some people find relief from sleeping on a firm mattress or on the floor to maintain a more stable spinal position.

However, it’s essential to use supportive bedding, such as a mattress or padding, to ensure that the spine is adequately supported. Before making any significant changes to your sleeping surface, we recommend consulting with a healthcare professional or orthopedic specialist to determine the most suitable and comfortable sleeping arrangement based on your specific case of scoliosis.

What is the worst sleep position for scoliosis?

Typically, experts say the worst sleep position for scoliosis is sleeping on the stomach. This position can increase pressure on the spine and contribute to discomfort for individuals with scoliosis. Sleeping on the back or side with proper support is often recommended instead to promote better spinal alignment and reduce strain.


If you want to fall asleep with scoliosis, take a proactive approach. Understanding scoliosis’s impact on your sleep and implementing the proper sleeping positions, pillows, and mattresses can improve your spinal health and reduce pain.

Remember to prioritize keeping your shoulder blades aligned, maintaining a straight spine, and addressing scoliosis-related lung impairment for optimal sleep. With these tips and tricks, you can fall asleep quickly, rest soundly, and wake up refreshed, even with scoliosis. Sweet dreams!

About the author

Mitchell Tollsen is a graduate student and a freelance writer who’s contributed to the Early Bird blog for three years. Mitchell’s always been fascinated by the science of sleep and the restorative processes our bodies undergo when at rest. The self-titled “Sleep Expert” is always looking for ways to improve his shut-eye, and throughout the years has implemented numerous lifestyle changes and tried dozens of sleep-promoting gadgets to determine the best ways to truly get better rest.

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