How to Sleep With Hip Bursitis: The Definitive Guide

How to Sleep With Hip Bursitis

Do you suffer from hip bursitis? If so, you know how painful it can be to get a good night’s sleep.

How to sleep with hip bursitis guide

Hip bursitis is a common condition that can cause pain and discomfort, particularly when trying to sleep. This can make getting a good night’s rest difficult and impact your overall quality of life. However, with the right strategies and techniques, sleeping comfortably and managing hip bursitis symptoms is possible.

This definitive guide will explore the best sleeping positions, pillows, and other tools to help alleviate pain and discomfort associated with hip bursitis. We will also discuss lifestyle changes and exercises to improve mobility and reduce hip irritability. Whether you are experiencing trochanteric bursitis, iliopsoas bursitis, or any other type of hip bursitis, this guide will provide you with the knowledge and tools you need to sleep comfortably and manage your symptoms.

Follow these tips, and you’ll sleep like a baby in no time!

What is Hip Bursitis?

Hip bursitis is the inflammation of the bursa, a small fluid-filled sac that cushions between bones and tendons within the hip. The most common type of hip bursitis is trochanteric bursitis, which affects the bursa on the outside the hip. This condition is often caused by repetitive motions or overuse, such as running, repetitive squatting, or a sudden increase in activity.

Age GroupGenderTime to Healing% of the Population Affected
40-60Female6-12 months15%
40-60Male6-12 months8%
*Note that these timelines indicate the average time to healing without medical intervention.

Greater Trochanteric Bursitis is common and thought to affect roughly 15% of women and 8% of men during their lifetime.

There is almost always an associated weakness that you may or may not be able to notice yourself with hip bursitis. This underlying weakness sets the hip up for an increased risk for bursitis once there is a sudden change in activity.

The repetitive activities flare up the bursa because the Glute Medius and Minimus muscles aren’t stronger enough to fully support the hip, placing excess pressure on the bursa. In most cases of Bursitis, there is also mild glute tendonitis that needs to be addressed as well.

When the bursa becomes inflamed, it can cause pain and tenderness on the outside of the hip area. The pain is most common with activities that put a load on the hip, such as stairs, squatting, or prolonged activities without a change in position. The pain is often worse at night because of the pressure on the hip when you sleep.

The Best Sleeping Positions for Hip Bursitis

A few different sleeping positions can help reduce the pain from hip bursitis. The best position for you may depend on the severity of your hip bursitis and other medical conditions, such as low back pain, if you have to use a CPAP or have a partner that gets in the way.

Sleeping on your Back

If you have hip bursitis, you may find relief by sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees. This position takes the pressure off your hip joint by releasing the tension on the Glute Medius Tendon on both sides. This position decreases pressure on the Bursa but can be painful for low back pain injuries. Some beds are adjustable now and can elevate underneath the knees with a touch of a button.

The other challenging part about sleeping on your back is that it is hard to stay there all night long. The pillow under the knee tends to get moved once you change positions at night.

Orthopedic Bed Wedges and Pillows

Sleeping on Your Side with a Pillow

If you have low back pain and hip bursitis, you may find sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees more comfortable. This position helps align your hip and spine and takes the pressure off your affected hip joint. It’s important that you use a pillow that is firm enough to support your knee so that your hip and spine don’t slowly sag down through the night.

picture of hip tension in side lying

Without a pillow, the hip on top has more compression on the bursa

With a pillow, the angle is changed, and less pressure is placed on the bursa

When sleeping on your side, we recommend initially sleeping on the opposite side of the Bursitis to avoid direct pressure on the bursa. However, you will likely have to change positions multiple times throughout the night.

You may have to play with the angle of your hip flexion to get comfortable. The bursa has varying tension levels depending on how close your knees are to your chest. Some may find more comfort in bending their knees up to their chest, and some may be more comfortable with only a little bend in the hips and knees.

If you don’t find that a pillow is comfortable or provides enough support, you can try a special medical device called a knee pillow for this occasion. You can check out a full review of knee pillows in this post.

Sleeping On Your Stomach

If you have difficulty sleeping on your back or side due to hip pain, you may find relief by sleeping on your stomach with a pillow under your hips. This position takes the pressure off your hip joint and may be an option for some. The pillow underneath the hips may not be needed and is recommended to help those with low back issues more than any reason to help the bursa.

This position, however, can place extra strain on the low back and neck. For most people, this position may not be possible. It’s important to use a thin pillow underneath your head to avoid aggravating the neck and a thicker pillow underneath the hips to protect the lumbar spine.

Exercises to do Before Bed With Hip Bursitis

In addition to changing your body position with a pillow, you can perform specific exercises before bed to help reduce pain from hip bursitis.

Exercises and stretches right before bed serve two purposes:

  • Decreasing pain and tenderness.
  • Promote blood flow and healing while you’re sleeping.

Side Lying Clamshell

The first exercise is the clamshell exercise. This is a classic exercise to target and strengthen the posterior hip muscles, and it can easily be done lying in bed.

To do this, start by lying on your side with your knees bent and feet together. Then, raise your top knee while keeping your feet touching and hold for five seconds. If you can perform 30 repetitions without pain, you will quickly need to move to a mini-loop resistance band. Repeat 10 times for 3 sets on each side.

side lying clamshell exercise without a band

Hip Bridges with a Band Around Your Knees

Another easy and beneficial exercise is the hip bridge with a band. To do this, start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor or bed about hip-width apart. Add a resistance band around the lower thigh just above the knee to make this exercise more beneficial. Then, raise your hips off the ground until your thighs and torso are in line with each other. Hold for two seconds, then slowly lower back to the starting position. Repeat at least 30 reps.

Bridge with a band around knees

Side Lying Hip Abduction

Side-lying hip abduction is a great exercise for strengthening the hip abductor muscles, which can help alleviate pain and discomfort associated with hip bursitis. To perform this exercise, start by lying on your side with your legs extended and your hips stacked one on top of the other. Keeping your top leg straight, lift it as high as you can without moving your hips or pelvis.

Hold this position for a few seconds before slowly lowering your leg. Repeat for a total of 20-30 repetitions before switching to the other side. To make this exercise more challenging, you can add resistance by using ankle weights or a resistance band. Remember to engage your core and maintain proper form throughout the exercise to avoid injury.

side lying hip abduction exercise

Supine Figure 4 Stretch

The last exercise is called the Figure Four stretch. To do this, start by lying on your back with both knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Then, take your right ankle and place it over your left knee. Next, take your left hand, grab your right thigh, and pull it towards your chest. You should feel a stretch in your glutes and hip. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

supine figure 4 stretch for hip bursitis

Tips to Reduce Bursitis Pain Before Bed

In addition to adjusting your sleeping position and performing exercises, there are a few other tips that you can try to help you get a full night’s sleep.

Massage the Area with a Ball

Massaging the glute with a racquetball can effectively alleviate pain and discomfort associated with hip bursitis. To perform this self-massage, start by lying on your back with your feet flat on the ground and your knees bent. Place a racquetball under one glute and roll it around, applying gentle pressure to any tender or sore spots.

You can also try using a foam roller or massage ball for a similar effect. It is important to avoid putting direct pressure on the bursa, as this can exacerbate symptoms. Instead, focus on massaging the surrounding muscles to improve circulation and reduce tension. Repeat on the other side as needed.

Using a Massage Gun

A massage gun can be a game-changer if you struggle with hip pain. The massage gun helps to increase blood flow and reduce muscle tightness in the area. Use the massage gun for a few minutes before bed on the hip muscles surrounding area to help reduce pain. This is a crowd favorite because it is something that you can do to yourself, and you don’t have to ask for someone else’s help.

Massage guns have dropped in price dramatically over the past few years and there are many affordable options on Amazon.

Taping The Hip

You may want to try taping the hip right before bed to see if this relieves the pain when sleeping on your side. This can provide support and take pressure off of the bursa, which helps reduce pain.

There are a few different ways to tape the hip. The most common way is to place a strip of tape from the hip bone up toward the top of the pelvic bone.

You can also create a large “X” pattern over top of the bursa, with one strip going up and down the leg and the other strip going front to back. It can be a little challenging to do to yourself, but once you get the hang of it, it’s fairly straightforward.

We typically use kinesio tape or, in our case Rock Tape. It can last 3-5 days, can get wet in the shower, and is easy to use.

Using Heat Before Bed

If you find that hip bursitis pain keeps you up at night, try using heat before bed. This can help to increase blood flow and reduce muscle spasms.

You can use a heating pad or a hot water bottle. Place it on the hip for 15-20 minutes before bed. Ensure the heat isn’t too hot, and always test it on your forearm before placing it on your hip.

You can also try laying on a heating pad at night. However, we do want to caution you on this. There have been instances where people have fallen asleep and woken up with burns on their hip or other areas at the hot pack, moved throughout the night.


In conclusion, sleeping with hip bursitis can be a challenging experience, but some strategies can help alleviate the pain and discomfort. It is important to find a sleeping position that does not pressure the affected hip, such as sleeping on the unaffected side with a pillow between the knees.

Using heat or ice therapy and taking over-the-counter pain medication can also help manage symptoms. If the pain persists or becomes severe, seeking medical attention to exploring other treatment options is important. Individuals can improve their sleep quality and overall quality of life by being proactive and taking steps to manage hip bursitis.

Check out some of our other articles on specific stretches and exercises to treat hip bursitis.

Let us know in the comments below if you have any tips or tricks that have works well for you to sleep at night.

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