6 Ways to Banish Back Pain and Get a Good Night's Sleep
Back pain can make sleeping through the night extremely difficult, and waking up feeling achy and sore is the last thing you want to deal with in the morning. It doesn’t have to be this way! There are several steps you can take to minimize your back pain. Achieve pain-free sleep and wake up feeling refreshed with these tips and tricks:
1. Find the best sleep position.
If you experience chronic back pain, you know how difficult it can be to sleep comfortably through the night. It’s important, however, to make sure you’re sleeping in the right position — not just whatever position seems to alleviate the pain best.
Certain sleeping positions can put pressure on your spine throughout the night. Often times, you won’t notice the pressure until you wake up with even worse back pain in the morning. The most common mistake people make is sleeping on the stomach, says Dr. Santhosh Thomas, a spine specialist at the Cleveland Clinic.
“Sleeping on your stomach can flatten the natural curve of your spine, putting some additional strain on your back muscles,” says Dr. Thomas. If you do typically sleep on your stomach, try putting a pillow under your pelvis to help maintain the natural curve of your spine throughout the night.
Here are some other sleep positions that can help reduce back pain:
- Sleep on your side with your legs bent slightly and a pillow tucked between your knees (body pillows can be extremely helpful in this position!)
- Lay on your back with a pillow placed beneath your knees to reduce spine pressure, particularly in the lower back
2. Get out of bed slowly.
Back pain in the morning can be intensified by the way we get out of bed. “The greatest incidence of slipped discs occurs within 30 to 60 minutes after we wake up. That’s because we get out of bed and immediately hit the ground running, “ says Dr. Robert Oexman, director of the Sleep to Live Institute.
Most people sit up and immediately stand, generally using their back muscles to hoist themselves upright. This type of strain can lead to increased muscle tension and even slipped discs.
The best way to get out of bed in the morning is to lie on your side, push into a sitting position using your arm and then stand up using your leg muscles rather than your back muscles.
3. Stretch after waking up.
While you sleep, your muscles are paralyzed, which can cause morning tension (especially if you tend to sleep in a less-than-ideal position). Try some of these quick stretches after waking in the morning to reduce pain:
- Knees-To-Chest. Lie on your back with both legs extended straight. Bring one knee up to your chest, pressing the small of your back into the floor. Hold for five seconds, then switch legs. Repeat the circuit five times.
- Bridge. Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor and arms at your sides. Gently lift your hips toward the ceiling until your torso forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees, using your core to hold the position. Hold for five seconds, then lower your hips back to the ground. Repeat five times.
- Child’s Pose. Yoga can be a very beneficial workout for those who experience back pain. Start on your hands and knees, keeping your shoulders and hips aligned. Push your hips back toward the ground and flatten your back. The deeper into a seated position you can get, the more effective the stretch. Hold for thirty seconds or more.
- Supine Spinal Twist. Lie on your back with your legs extended, arms out in a T shape. Draw your right knee so that your right leg forms a 90 degree angle and then rotate your hips, crossing the knee over to the left side of your body. Try to get your knee as close to the floor as possible. Hold for ten seconds then return to starting position. Repeat with the left leg.
- Happy Baby. Lie on your back with knees bent in toward the chest. Grab the inside edges of your feet and let your knees fall to either side. Make sure your feet are flexed and your heels remain above your knees. Hold for ten seconds, gently rocking from side to side.
- Standing Forward Fold. Stand up with your feet shoulder width apart. Grab opposite elbows and bend toward the ground, maintaining a slight bend in the knee. Let your head hang, neck relaxed and shoulders relaxed. Gently sway from side to side. Hold for ten seconds, then slowly return to an upright standing position.
It’s a good idea to incorporate stretching into your nighttime routine as well to ensure your back muscles are relaxed and ready for sleep.
4. Improve your posture.
One of the leading causes of back pain is poor posture. Most people sit at a desk for eight or more hours a day, hunched over a computer. This places stress on your spine that can lead to problems with your muscles, discs and joints.
Here are some characteristics of back pain caused by poor posture:
- Back pain that worsens throughout the day
- Pain that starts in your neck and moves down to your back
- Pain that subsides after shifting positions
Keep track of when pain begins or intensifies. If your back pain coincides with starting a new job, sitting in a new office chair or driving a new car, it’s likely due to poor posture.
Maintaining good posture can help you avoid unnecessary strain on your back. Follow these tips to help improve your posture:
While walking — Look straight ahead to keep your head balanced above your spine. This will help you avoid stress on your neck. You should also engage your core to keep your spine aligned and your shoulders straight.
While sitting — Avoid hunching your shoulders, a common mistake many office workers make. Here’s how you can maintain good posture while working:
- Keep your back flush to your chair, shoulders open
- Flex your arms at around a 90 degree angle
- Make sure your knees are level with or slightly above your hips
- Rest your feet flat on the floor or use a footrest
5. Be sure to get enough sleep.
Back pain can lead to a restless night of tossing and turning. Sleeping with a bad back may seem impossible, but sleep deprivation can actually make the problem worse. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body is unable to properly restore itself, which can worsen the pain you’re already experiencing.It can become a vicious cycle.
Even if you’re not currently experiencing back pain, it’s important to know how poor sleep can lead to pain later down the line. “Sleep deprivation is known to affect mood and functional ability and negatively impacts perception of pain,” says Dr. Santhosh Thomas.
6. Find the right bed for you.
To get a great night’s sleep, you need an environment designed to reduce your pain. The right mattress and pillows can make a world of difference when it comes to nighttime pain management.
Many pillows don’t provide enough neck support, which can lead to neck and back soreness in the morning. If you experience pain even when sleeping in the proper position, you might benefit from using a cervical pillow, which is specifically designed to support the neck. Cervical pillows also make stomach sleeping difficult, which prevents you from rolling into a poor sleeping position during the night.
Lastly, it’s very important that you’re sleeping on a quality mattress. What is the best mattress for back pain? Some people have claimed that sleeping on a medium-firm mattress can reduce back pain, but the truth is that every person is different. Your mattress should be tailored to fit your body.
Mattress Warehouse uses bedMatch technology to identify the perfect mattress for you. Stop living with back pain and start getting the best night’s sleep possible. Visit your local Mattress today to get fit for a new bed using bedMatch.
- Mattress Warehouse