Savvy Tips Guru

How to Sleep with Costochondritis: Best Positions and Tips for Pain Relief

sleep with costochondritis

Sleeping in the right position is very important for your health. If you sleep in a bad position, you might wake up feeling sore and uncomfortable. Poor sleeping posture can lead to issues like back pain, neck strain, and shoulder tension. A study by the National Institutes of Health found that bad sleep posture is a major cause of muscle and joint pain in adults.

This becomes even more crucial for people with conditions like costochondritis. Sleeping in the wrong position can make the symptoms of costochondritis worse. Therefore, it’s essential to find sleeping positions that help reduce pain and promote healing.

What is Costochondritis?

Costochondritis is when the cartilage that connects your ribs to your breastbone (sternum) gets inflamed. This causes chest pain, which can be sharp and aching. The pain often gets worse with certain movements, deep breaths, or physical activity. It can sometimes feel like a heart attack, which can be scary.

What Does It Feel Like?

If you have costochondritis, you might feel:

  • Sharp, Aching Pain: This pain can be mild or very uncomfortable.
  • Pressure in the Chest: You might feel tightness or pressure.
  • Worse with Movement: Activities like lifting, twisting, or deep breathing can make it hurt more.
  • Localized Pain: The pain is usually around the breastbone and can spread to your back or belly.

Causes of Costochondritis

The exact cause isn’t always clear, but several things can lead to it, such as:

  • Chest Injury: Getting hit in the chest, like in a car accident.
  • Physical Strain: Lifting heavy things or intense exercise.
  • Arthritis: Conditions like osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Infections: Respiratory illnesses or certain viruses.
  • Chronic Coughing: Persistent coughs can irritate the rib joints.
  • Surgeries: Operations involving the chest, like heart surgery.
  • Large Breasts or Other Body Factors: These can put extra stress on the chest area.

Adjusting Your Sleeping Position to Manage Costochondritis

One of the best ways to manage costochondritis is by changing how you sleep. The right sleep position can help reduce pain, decrease inflammation, and promote healing. Here are some tips and the best sleeping positions to try:

Back Sleeping

Lying on your back with your spine straight is one of the best positions. It keeps your spine aligned and reduces pressure on your chest. Make sure to use a supportive mattress and an ergonomic pillow to keep your neck in the right position.

Side Sleeping

If back sleeping is uncomfortable, try sleeping on your side, preferably the side that isn’t affected by pain. This position reduces strain on the inflamed area. Place a pillow between your knees to keep your spine straight and another small pillow to support your ribcage.

Avoid Stomach Sleeping

Avoid lying on your stomach, as it can put extra pressure on your chest and misalign your spine, making the pain worse.

Use Supportive Pillows

Use pillows that support your head and neck without pushing your head too far forward. You can also place a small pillow or rolled-up towel under your ribs to relieve pressure.

Mattress Choice

Choose a firm mattress that supports your body and keeps your spine aligned. Avoid very soft mattresses that cause your body to sink and twist.

Hot/Cold Therapy

Apply a heating pad or ice pack to the sore area before bed to reduce inflammation and soothe the pain.

FAQs About Sleeping with Costochondritis

Can sleep position cause costochondritis?

Sleep position alone might not directly cause costochondritis, but sleeping in ways that put pressure on your chest can make it worse. If you sleep in a bad posture for a long time, it can lead to inflammation and pain, especially if you have other risk factors like chronic coughing or physical strain.

Can a bad mattress cause costochondritis?

A bad mattress can make the symptoms of costochondritis worse. If your mattress is too soft or uneven, it can mess up your spine alignment and put more pressure on your chest, leading to more pain and discomfort.

What are the things to avoid when sleeping with costochondritis?

  • Stomach Sleeping: This position puts extra pressure on your chest and can misalign your spine.
  • Too Soft Mattress: Soft mattresses can cause your body to sink and twist, making the pain worse.
  • Heavy Physical Activity Before Bed: Doing strenuous activities can increase inflammation and pain before you sleep.
  • Ignoring Pain: If certain sleep positions or habits cause pain, address them immediately to prevent worsening symptoms.

Following these tips can help you manage costochondritis and improve your sleep quality.

Treating and Managing Costochondritis

Effectively treating and managing costochondritis is important for reducing pain and improving your quality of life. You can use over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help reduce pain and inflammation.

Resting the affected area and avoiding activities that trigger pain can also help reduce inflammation. Gentle stretching and strengthening exercises, as suggested by a physical therapist, can improve flexibility and lessen pain. Applying heat or cold packs to the inflamed area can soothe pain and reduce inflammation.

Making lifestyle changes, like maintaining good posture, avoiding heavy lifting, and managing stress, can help reduce symptoms. In severe cases, doctors might recommend corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation. Some people also find relief through alternative therapies like acupuncture or chiropractic care.

These treatments, combined with proper sleep positions and supportive sleeping arrangements, can effectively manage costochondritis and improve your overall well-being. Always consult with a healthcare professional to develop a treatment plan that’s right for you.


  • Diane Silva

    Diane is a travel enthusiast, content creator, and master storyteller, capturing her adventures through captivating blogs and engaging vlogs. With a passion for the great outdoors and a love for literature, she brings a unique perspective to the travel world. Whether she's exploring hidden gems or discussing the latest trends, Diane is your go-to source for all things travel and beyond.