Why Your Ribs Hurt When You Lay Down

Why Your Ribs Hurt When You Lay Down

Lying down on your back is a common sleeping position. Whether you’re sleeping in your own bed or a hotel room, it’s likely that you will spend some time lying down. However, many people find that when they lie down flat for an extended period of time, their ribs start to hurt. This is commonly referred to as costochondritis or “rib stress reaction” and can be quite painful. If you have ever experienced this yourself, perhaps after a day of skiing or some other physical activity where you were hunched over and breathing heavily, you know how uncomfortable it can be. When your ribs hurt from lying down there are different reasons why this may be the case. Here are five such explanations for why your ribs hurt when you lay down:

Why Your Ribs Hurt When You Lay Down

You’re Constantly Breathing Hard

If you have been engaged in strenuous physical activity all day, you may have developed some shortness of breath. This can cause you to try to take extra, deeper breaths while lying down on your back. If you breathe through your mouth while sleeping as many people do, your mouth can fall open when you are lying down. If your mouth is open while you breathe and your throat is relaxed, your airways can narrow and cause your rib cage to expand. This can put pressure on your ribs and cause them to hurt. If you are experiencing this kind of pain, it’s important that you try to relax and breathe more lightly while lying down. If your mouth is open, you could try breathing through your nose instead. This will help you to reduce the amount of pressure on your rib cage.

Your Ribs Are Out of Shape

If you engage in a lot of activities that require you to hunch over while you breathe, you may have developed some ribs that are misshaped or “out of shape.” This can make it very uncomfortable to lie down on your back and can result in pain. If your ribs are misshapen, it can cause you to have less space in your rib cage. This can make it harder for your lungs to expand and can lead to shortness of breath, among a host of other problems. If your ribs are misshapen, you may find that you are more comfortable lying on your side instead of your back.

You Have a Condition That Is Causing Chronic Pain

If you have a condition that causes you to experience chronic pain, you may find that lying on your back is more comfortable than lying on your side. However, you may find that you experience more pain when lying down than when you are in a sitting position. For example, if you have a herniated disc in your back, you may experience pain in your lower back when you are lying down. You can relieve this pain by sitting up in a chair while you sleep. Chronic pain can also cause you to have a high level of muscle tension in your body, which can result in pain. If you experience a high level of muscle tension in your body, you may find that you are more comfortable lying on your side while sleeping. This can help to relieve the tension in your muscles and help to relieve pain.

The Surface of Your Ribs Is Irritated

You may find that lying down on a particular surface just happens to irritate your ribs and cause pain. For example, if you are used to sleeping on a soft bed, but your bed is now much firmer than you are used to, you may find that it’s more uncomfortable to lie down on the new bed. Similarly, if you are trying to sleep on a very hard surface, you may find that this irritates your ribs and causes pain. This can be a particular challenge for people who sleep on the floor. If you are trying to sleep on a hard surface and your ribs are becoming irritated, you can try to provide more padding for your ribs by covering your body with a blanket or a pillow.

The Muscles Around Your Ribs Are Triggering

If you have been engaging in a lot of physical activity or have been lifting heavy objects, you may have built up some soreness in certain muscles in your body. If you then lie down and these muscles are relaxed, they can pull against your ribs and cause pain. If you have recently been engaging in a lot of physical activity, it’s possible that you are in pain as a result. In this case, it’s best to try to relieve the pain rather than ignore it. If you find that you are experiencing pain when you are lying down, you can try to alleviate it by shifting your body position or changing how you lie down.

Why Does Rib Pain Get Worse When You Lay Down?

  • A lot of people notice that their rib pain gets worse when they lay down. This is because you’re at an abnormal angle while in bed, which puts more pressure on your rib cage. 
  • It’s easy to forget that your rib cage is there when you’re laying on your back because it’s out of site.
  • If your rib pain is coming from a muscle sprain or tendonitis, this is likely to worsen as you’re assuming the weird position. However, if you have a rib fracture, it’s normal for the pain to get worse when you lay down because of the pressure it puts on your ribs.

Why Do Your Ribs Hurt When You Breathe?

There are two reasons why your ribs hurt when you breathe: 

  1. Rib Sprain – When you experience pain in your ribs, it’s likely to be a sprain. Sprains cause inflammation and pain in affected joints and muscles. Your ribs can be affected when the muscles around them are sprained. When your muscles are sprained, it’s common for them to get inflamed. This can cause pain and stiffness to spread to other areas of your body, like your ribs. The easiest way to tell if you have a rib sprain is to check if the pain gets worse when you breathe.
  2.  Rib Fracture – If you have a fracture in one or more of your ribs, it’s likely to cause significant pain and swelling. Your lungs are attached to your ribs, so when there’s significant swelling and pain in your ribs, it can be hard to take a deep breath.

Tips To Relieve Rib Pain

  • Apply heat on painful areas to relieve inflammation. 
  • Take a painkiller to reduce pain and inflammation. 
  • Rest and stay hydrated. 
  •  Avoid activities that worsen your rib pain.
  •  Keep your ribs elevated to limit movement and swelling.
  • Take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication.

Conclusion

Lying down on your back is a common sleeping position, but many people find that when they do so for an extended period of time, their ribs start to hurt. When your ribs hurt from lying down, there are different reasons why this may be the case. You may have developed constricted breathing habits, your ribs may be misshapen, you may have a condition that causes chronic pain, the surface of your ribs may be irritated, or the muscles around your ribs may be triggering. If you find that your ribs hurt when you lie down, it’s important to try to figure out why this is the case so you can try to relieve the pain.

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