Most people will experience lower back pain at some point in their lives, and how they sleep may exacerbate or even cause these problems.
The reasons for back pain are varied. Causes include stress, excessive exercise, or more chronic conditions like arthritis and fibromyalgia. The pain you may be experiencing in your back, neck, and shoulders could be preventing you from getting any sleep, interrupting your sleep, or reducing its quality. Poor sleep disrupts your body’s natural rhythms and can lead you to be irritable or distant in your waking hours, affecting your work and your relationships.
For some people, simply changing sleeping position can be enough to get them a better night’s sleep, but for others, it can feel like there is nothing they haven’t tried to get better sleep. If your lack of sleep is getting you down or causing problems in your waking life, then these five tips may be just what you are looking for.
Switch to Sleeping on Your Back
It may seem counter-intuitive, but one of the best ways to sleep if you have back pain is on your back. This position actually reduces stress and pressure on your spine and back muscles. If you place a pillow under your knees you can make this sleeping position even more effective and reduce pressure on your spine further. Always avoid sleeping on your stomach, as this will bend and contort your spine and back muscles, causing pain and long-term damage.
Switch Your Mattress
An old, sagging and springy mattress is terrible for spinal alignment and posture. A firm or hard mattress, however, can be just as uncomfortable. Finding the sweet spot between the two will come down to personal preference, but many people have started to switch to a memory foam mattress.
The foam and fibers of a memory foam mattress are very supportive and mold themselves to your shape to give you support while you sleep. Mattresses should be replaced once every seven years, so if you are due an upgrade, you should consider switching to a quality memory foam mattress.
Get to the Gym More
Regular exercise is one of the best ways to ensure you get better sleep, and the right exercise can reduce back pain and build up the muscles you need to support your back through the day.
Yoga and Pilates have also become a popular way to keep fit and add to your feeling of wellbeing, and these are also great ways to reduce back pain, inflammation and improve dexterity. Many yoga positions strengthen the back muscles and your body’s core, helping to ease pressure on the spine and help reduce muscle spasms in your sleep.
Heat helps the body relax and soothes stiff muscles and joints. Consider using a heat pad or electric blanket when you first get into bed to help you and your body relax before sleeping. Make sure you use a timer or turn it off before you sleep to avoid burns or overheating.
Talk to Your Doctor
If your back problems continue, no matter what you do, then you should consult your doctor or a physician to see what they can recommend to help you to get the sleep you need.
Medications can help in the short-term, which is great if you need a good night of rest after weeks of discomfort, but be sure to talk about any underlying causes of your back pain and what remedies and treatments are available to you to avoid relying on medication as a long-term solution.
As well as these steps, you should also consider taking some basic steps towards better sleep that anyone can use, even if they don’t suffer from back pain. You should avoid screen-time two hours before sleep, and instead, try reading or listening to music. Also, try not to eat any rich foods or large meals close to your bedtime.
The most important thing to do is to not simply accept your back pain and try to put up with it. Over time this will exhaust you and come at the cost of your personal and professional relationships. Consult your doctor if pain persists, and consider alternative therapies like massage, acupuncture, and aromatherapy.