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Hip pain can be frustrating during the day. But at night, when you’re trying to get much-needed rest, it can be downright infuriating. Tossing and turning is likely to re-ignite pain in the places where it most needs to subside. Adding insult to injury, so to speak, lack of sleep can cause your hip pain to feel more intense the next day. 

Quality sleep lets your body heal and build strength. But broken, fitful sleep can interrupt the healing process and undermine your overall health. More than 60 million Americans suffer from poor sleep quality, which can increase their risk for chronic health conditions that often worsen their pain. 

From finding a comfortable sleeping position to staying asleep throughout the night, hip pain presents heightened challenges when the sun goes down. It’s time to break the cycle and enjoy both holistic health and peace of mind against pain.

Sleep hygiene

One of the most important ways to enjoy better sleep is to practice good sleep hygiene. Much like oral hygiene leads to stronger and healthier teeth, sleep hygiene opens the way to better sleep. 

The National Sleep Foundation defines sleep hygiene as maintaining both sleep-supporting bedroom environments and daily routines that promote consistent, uninterrupted sleep. The mind-body connection means that peaceful, soothing and comfortable surroundings can lead to physical well-being before you drift off. Studies show that sleep disturbances are linked to fatigue, disturbed mood and symptoms of depression. 

The practice of stress-relieving mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) holds promise in setting you up for a better night of sleep. When your brain can cultivate focus and tune out distractions, your body will follow into a relaxed state. To promote this connection, your bedroom should feel like a sanctuary, without clutter and distractions. 

There are steps you can take well before bedtime to set yourself up for the kind of sleep hip pain will be less likely to disturb.

Practices for sleep hygiene include:

  • Cutting down on caffeine after noon
  • Limiting naps to 20-30 minutes in the afternoon
  • Jotting down your to-do list for the next day, then setting it aside
  • Going to bed and getting up at a consistent time
  • Unwinding before bed with reading, knitting, listening to music or light stretching
  • Indulging in soft bedding and supportive pillows
  • Replacing your mattress every six years
  • Dimming the lights for 20 minutes before bed
  • Keeping the temperature cool, around 65 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Diffusing calming scents, such as lavender
  • Putting away your smartphone and laptop for at least 30 minutes before bed
  • Breathing slowly and deeply 
  • Focusing on one simple, calming phrase or image as you get into bed
  • Squeezing and releasing all your muscle groups

Sleeping position

Even though the best sleep can feel like total, blissful release, your body is actually working hard to rest and heal. To help it along, certain strategic positions help your body build back strength. 

The key concept is to keep your head, shoulders and hips aligned and to reduce stress on your back and hips. If your spine is pulled out of alignment while you’re sleeping, your hip pain may intensify enough to rouse you and keep you awake.

Here are ideas for sleep alignment:

  • Choose a pillow that supports your head, neck and shoulders
  • If you sleep on your back, place a small pillow under the backs of your knees to reduce stress on your spine
  • If you sleep on your side, place a firm pillow between your knees and curl your knees toward your chest
  • If you sleep on your stomach, place flat pillows under your abdomen and head
  • Place a rolled towel or small pillow under your waist

Sleep medicine

Can popping a pill result in a good night’s sleep? Some patients desperate for rest are turning to sleep medicine, which can range from over-the-counter melatonin supplements to prescription sedatives and antidepressants.

The problem is that strong sleep medicine can induce a “hangover effect” the next day. Eight out of 10 people who take sleep medicine feel drowsy, have muddled thoughts and risk dizziness or balance problems. For those with hip pain who already struggle with stability, this is a recipe for disaster. 

Bottom line: while certain supplements are okay, patients who take sedatives will likely feel the opposite of well-rested and ready to move.

Oral pain relievers 

If you have been diagnosed with musculoskeletal pain that impacts your joints and tendons, you may be resigned to living with hip pain around the clock. Sometimes this pain is the result of a fracture, sprain, or overuse injury that leads to conditions such as hip tendonitis or bursitis. In other situations, it’s a more chronic or lingering pain caused by types of arthritis that hasten wear and tear. But in both cases, the pain can interfere with both daily living and a good night’s rest. 

Oral medications can serve to relieve pain, reduce swelling, fight inflammation, or clear underlying infections. Your provider may suggest anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs, whether prescription or over-the-counter. In cases such as hip bursitis, steroids may help. However, certain painkillers such as opioids won’t do any favors for either your pain or your sleep. In fact, studies show that intense cravings and chemical dependency on opioid pain relievers can severely disturb the natural sleep cycle, contributing to even more pain.

Topical pain relievers 

Topical pain relief creams, gels or ointments are a popular alternative to oral medications. Building on the science behind the simple ice pack, topical pain relievers distract your brain from the feeling of joint and muscle pain by using ingredients to target pain at its source, introducing a different sensation on that patch of skin. 

With many options on the market, it’s often possible to select a topical treatment that addresses the specific nature of your pain while offering a calming aroma and soothing sensation. For example, muscle and joint pain at the hip may best benefit from a cream with anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants as well as botanical ingredients, such as lavender or menthol. These creams can mute the pain signals in your tissues and help fight inflammation, and promote pain relief. The scents may also prove soothing as you try to sleep. 

CBD is a new ingredient for topical cream that is exploding in popularity. In its purest, isolate form, with no traces of THC or other mood-altering chemicals, topical CBD can stimulate or inhibit certain pain receptors and fight inflammation in the hip, without user risk of becoming buzzed or high.

If you have chronic osteoarthritis hip pain, the American College of Rheumatology recommends using a pain-relief gel that contains a topical NSAID as one of the first lines of treatment. Severe cases of hip osteoarthritis also often respond well to steroid injections.  

Hip exercises

When your hips are stiff and screaming in pain, exercising might be the last thing you feel like doing. You might feel tempted to collapse on the couch all day, which is not ideal for sleeping at night. 

Despite the discomfort, hip exercises can be helpful. In cases of wear and tear or an overuse injury, hip exercises can help restore full range of motion to the hip joint. They can also build strength and flexibility while stabilizing the pelvis for support. 

A popular treatment option to relieve hip pain is physical therapy, which involves exercises and activities to stretch and strengthen hip muscles. Hip exercises not only relieve pain, but also encourage activity. 

If you’re looking for ideas to help you get back on your feet, moves from yoga and Pilates can promote flexibility and strength for tight hip flexors. Standing forward folds, supine twists (hip rotations), knee lifts, squats and low lunges are a few yoga poses for hip pain. Even something as simple as getting up from your desk chair or couch to walk around for a few minutes can fight stiffness that contributes to pain. 

Applying foam rollers to the sides of your hips can also help with pain relief by loosening the surrounding tissue. Besides the soothing feel on your muscles, foam rolling can decrease tension and tightness while increasing blood flow to the area, another tactic to reduce pain. This may be especially helpful for if you feel hip pain at night when lying on your side.

Keeping active during the day can lead to a better night’s rest. On the flip side, a sedentary lifestyle of nursing the pain can disturb a good night’s sleep. It’s important to find the right balance between rest and exercise, which might take some time and practice. 


Lastly, you don’t need to drink a glass of warm milk before settling into bed. In fact, this may later jostle you awake with a full bladder! However, a well-balanced diet that includes a nutritious dinner several hours before bed can fight inflammation, hunger and restlessness. Good eating habits are an important part of holistic health and sleep hygiene. 

But if hip stiffness makes it difficult to stand at the stove to cook from scratch, herbal nutraceuticals are a supplement for your diet that may help fight inflammation. Just be aware that some supplements may counter the effects of certain medications.

How Bliss can help you get a good night’s rest 

Hip pain shouldn’t have you tossing and turning. But preparing for a night of pain-free, restorative sleep begins outside of the bedroom and well before sunset. It could possibly involve Bliss’s help as well — to help with your chronic hip pain, we can work closely with you to customize a holistic relief plan. 

Our personalized, comprehensive plans combine non-opioid medications, personalized exercises and stretches, nutraceuticals, CBD cream, health coaching and overall care from a team of specialized providers delivered to you in the comfort of your home.

Dr. Jacob, MD