What is the Best Sleeping Position for Arthritic Hips?

Getting a better night’s sleep can often come down to how you sleep. Learn the pros/cons and which is the best sleeping position to relieve arthritic hip pain.

woman with arthritic hip pain sleeping on her side
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Research shows approximately 80% of all arthritis patients are known to have trouble sleeping [1]. It can lead to the individual constantly waking up in the middle of the night in distress, pain, and discomfort. 

To avoid this, it becomes important to find the right sleeping position in bed. A simple change such as this can have a profound impact on a person’s joints and how they feel after waking up in the morning.

How to Sleep To Reduce Hip Pain 

Here’s a detailed look at the best sleeping positions for arthritic hip pain.

1. Side Sleeping 

Side sleeping is well-regarded as an excellent position for those with arthritis in their hips. However, it’s important to note, this is only true when you sleep on your “good hip” (i.e. where arthritis doesn’t flare up). Each individual is going to have a side that is less inflamed and won’t act up when a bit of weight is put on it.

If both sides hurt equally then you are going to have to roll over on your back. 

Sleeping on your side is good because it helps keep the spine aligned, which reduces how much stress is put on the hips, neck, and/or back. This is critical since a person is going to be in this position for approximately 8-10 hours per night.

In some cases, patients will have discomfort when it comes to laying on the wrong side. This is something a person will have to test out because sleeping on your side isn’t always a good option. It does alleviate stress on the spine, but that shouldn’t come by sacrificing your hips. 

It’s also recommended to invest in a comfortable mattress to help with laying on your side. By having a good mattress under your hip and a quality body pillow between your knees, it’s more than possible to make the most of this situation. 

The body pillow can do a wonderful job of aligning everything and making sure you don’t add weight to the hip in the middle of the night.

graphic showing best way to sleep on stomach
People with hip pain should never sleep on their stomachs because it mis-aligns the hips and increases pain.

2. Back Sleeping

Back sleeping is a common way people with arthritis in their hips choose to sleep. Being able to rest evenly across both sides is an easy solution people enjoy because it provides short and long-term relief. If the pain is constant, it is recommended to start in this position. This will help distribute the weight across both sides, so you are not overwhelming one side of the body. 

For those who tend to feel pain in their lower back in this position, it’s recommended to move to side sleeping. However, you can also look to use a small pillow and place it under your knees as a way to align the spine properly.

Avoid Sleeping on Your Stomach!

Studies show individuals that sleep on their stomach with any type of joint pain can worsen their condition [2]. This has a lot to do with weight distribution, especially when a person turns their neck to one side and stays in that position for 8-10 hours.

Laying on the stomach is never a good idea as it will put everything out of alignment. For example, the spine isn’t going to be straight, the hips will be misaligned, and even the neck is going to be turned to one side or the other.

This places a tremendous amount of stress on the hips and will cause a flare-up in a matter of minutes. As a result, patients are recommended to avoid sleeping on their stomach with arthritis. 

Tips and Tricks for Getting Better Sleep

1. Reduce Caffeine Intake Before Bed

It’s always best to make sure the body doesn’t have a sudden burst of energy right before going to sleep. Arthritis is known to flare-up with too much caffeine and this worsens when it comes to taking it right before going to bed.

If you are going to be consuming coffee or any other source of caffeine, it is best to do it at least 2-3 hours before going to bed. This will allow its effects to pass before you have to rest on your hips. Otherwise, the pain is going to flare-up and it may keep you up at night regardless of how you sleep. 

2. Maintain a Regular Sleep Schedule

Having a good sleep schedule is underrated but it can play a major role in how well you handle arthritis. A person that doesn’t get enough sleep in the night is going to further agitate their joints. It doesn’t give the body enough time to rest and recover.

To avoid this, it’s best to have a set schedule for going to sleep and the resting period should last approximately 8-10 hours.

when combined with the right sleeping position, you are going to get rid of those stiff joints that bother you early in the morning. 

3. Keep the Joints Warm

This is a common concern when it comes to lying down in an icy cold bedroom. When the temperature isn’t regulated, it is going to cause the joints to lock up right away. As a result, when you try to move in bed, you are going to feel a sudden onset of pain and it will be difficult to sleep through. 

To make sure the hips are good, you want to ensure the joints are kept as warm as possible. It shouldn’t be uncomfortable, but even wearing pajamas and using a good blanket will go a long way in helping out.

Final Thoughts 

In general, it’s recommended to find a sleeping position that reduces short and long-term arthritic hip pain. For the average arthritis patient, this means resting on your back during the night. It promotes equal weight distribution and eliminates any concerns about hurting the hip.

However, it’s okay to sleep on your side (strong side only) while paying attention to how your hip feels. This can work well, especially in patients that prefer sleeping on their side regularly. 

References:

  1. https://www.arthritis.org (Sleep and Pain)
  2. https://www.onhealth.com/content/1/joint_pain_arthritis_bad_habits
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About Scott Grant, ATP, CRTS® 366 Articles
Assistive Technology Professional, Custom Wheelchair Specialist, Medical Equipment Guru, Dad and Grandfather
I am a lucky dad to four awesome daughters and grandfather to three pretty terrific grandkids. When not working as a custom wheelchair specialist at a regional home medical equipment company, I enjoy early morning runs and occasional kayak trips. I am also a self-admitted nerd who loves anything from the 1980's. Learn More

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