How to Sleep with a Ruptured Disc

Three Methods:ElevationTemperatureAligning the spine

A ruptured disc occurs when the strong outer covering of the disc tears. When this happens, the disc ruptures and you will experience pain and discomfort in the spine and lower back area. Since the spine is comprised of numerous nerves, pain can radiate throughout the entire body and travel down towards the legs. Depending on the severity of pain, some people also report having problems with the bowel and bladder. Since sleep is an essential activity needed to promote healing, learn the proper way to sleep with a ruptured disc.

Method 1

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    Elevate your knees while sleeping.
    • Place your legs on top of two fluffy pillows. Make sure the pillows are underneath your knee joints. Elevating the knees takes pressure off your lower back and spine.
      Image titled Sleep with a Ruptured Disc Step 4
  2. 2
    Elevate your bed. Put pillows under head and upper back to make it comfortable and elevate your body.
    • Try to lie so that you're almost sitting. This can help to relieve severe pain in the legs when you cannot lie down.
    • Tuck the bed covers under you; this can help you to feel a little lifted.
    • Go to sleep almost sitting like this when the pain is really bad.

Method 2

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    Use hot and cold compresses 30 minutes before you go to bed. To ease pain and inflammation, use a magnetic heating pad or an electrical heating pad. To help alleviate swelling, use a cold compress, such as a bag of ice.
  2. Image titled Sleep with a Ruptured Disc Step 3
    Lay in your bed. Place hot and cold compresses on your back and ruptured disc. Alternate the use of heat and ice on your back in 6 minute intervals, until 30-minutes has passed. For the first 6 minutes, use a hot compress. For the next 6 minutes, use a cold compress.
  3. 3
    Try icing the area 30 minutes before going to sleep. Take your medication at the same time.

Method 3
Aligning the spine

Image titled Sleep with a Ruptured Disc Step 5
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    Grab one fluffy pillow. Place it between your inner thighs.
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    Turn on one of your sides. Lay down gently.
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    Fall asleep on your side. Sleeping in this position helps to align the spine, which takes stress off the lower back and disc.


  • Sleeping in either of these two positions takes pressure off the back, alleviates pain and promotes healing of the injured disc.
  • If you experience a tingling sensation accompanied by pain in your legs, you may need to allow your body extra time to recover from this injury. To help in the healing process, bed rest is suggested for 1 to 2 days.
  • When first experiencing a ruptured disc, it is important to avoid sleeping more than 2 days straight. This interferes with the healing process.
  • Align your knees with your shoulders while getting in and out of bed. Keep this alignment to reduce pain spikes.


  • Do not attempt to lay on your back without a pillow underneath your knees, as this can exaggerate the muscles and the disc in your lower back. This causes the spine to be out of alignment, which places more pressure on the spine, and causes more pain.
  • Avoid performing any type of strenuous activity with a ruptured disc. If and whenever possible, you should contact a chiropractor or back specialist to discuss treatment options available to you.

Things You'll Need

  • Hot compress
  • Cold compress
  • 2 fluffy pillows

Article Info

Categories: Back and Joint Care | Better Sleeping