A review from June 2019 found that people with lower back pain are up to 18 times more likely to experience insomnia than people who are pain-free. When you experience back pain, especially pain that is chronic, it is very difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position. When you are not comfortable, falling asleep is a challenge. Not to mention, it can be difficult to fall back asleep if you wake up at night.
The lower back supports the majority of your body weight and plays a role in various movements. Because of this, pain or discomfort can interfere with those movements, or make them challenging or painful. The lower back involves a series of interwoven structures, including five vertebrae of the lumbar spine. Shock-absorbing discs bolster these vertebrae and ligaments hold them in place. The surrounding muscles offer support and connect to the spine via tendons. The nerves that run from the spinal column deliver signals throughout the body, including signals of pain.
Health experts estimate that eight out of 10 people experience back pain at some point in their life. Pain can range from mild to severe, but failure to address the pain is bad news for other areas of your health. Lower back pain can limit your mobility and cause discomfort during the subtlest movements, even in your sleep, which can wake you up at night. If you have lower back pain, use the following tips for a better night’s sleep.
Sleep On Your Side With A Pillow Between Your Knees
It can be very uncomfortable to lie flat on your back if you have back pain. Should you enjoy back-sleeping, you can make that position more comfortable by putting a pillow under your knees. If you do not enjoy back-sleeping, sleep experts suggest sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees. Lie on whichever side is most comfortable and make sure your pillow is high enough to help you avoid neck pain. Place a pillow between your knees and consider placing a smaller pillow between your waist and the mattress for added support. The pillow between your legs helps to better align the hips, pelvis, and spine. Lastly, switch sides from time to time to help avoid scoliosis or muscle imbalance.
Choose The Right Pillow
There is no single sleeping position or mattress that makes everyone’s sleep pain-free and amazing. You have to find a pillow that helps support the neck and natural curvature of the spine. If you snooze on your side, you should opt for a thicker, firmer pillow to prevent your head from sinking down, which can throw your spine out of whack. Back sleepers should use a medium-thick pillow that holds its shape.
Get A Good Mattress
If you have a low-quality mattress, you can easily experience back pain or general discomfort while sleeping. You should also evaluate your mattress about every six to eight years to make sure it isn’t causing you pain. One study found that roughly 63% of people reported a significant reduction in low back pain after changing to a new mattress. Your budget may determine the mattress you buy, but there are so many mattresses to try out these days. Many mattresses offer a 100-night trial, and you can return the mattress for your money back if you don’t like it during that period. Ideally, a mattress should be supportive enough to maintain the natural curvature of the spine.
Try Gentle Yoga Poses Before Bed
Perhaps you stood or sat down all day, and your back doesn’t feel great. Why not engage in gentle stretching or yoga poses before bed to elongate muscles and relieve tension. Plus, stretching before bed helps to improve blood flow throughout the body, which can help decrease stiffness. If you’re new to stretching or yoga, consider using yoga blocks or bolsters to help support yourself throughout the poses or stretches. Click here to learn more about stretches that can help improve your sleep.
Alignment Is The Key
No matter what sleeping position, mattress, or pillow you choose, keeping the spine aligned is the key to freeing yourself from back pain while you sleep. Ideally, you should aim to align your ears, shoulders, and hips. If you notice any gaps between your body and the bed that cause pain, fill those gaps with pillows. Placing pillows in these areas can help reduce any stress your body may feel. Lastly, be mindful of how you turn over in bed. It is very easy to get out of alignment when you twist and turn. Move your body together and engage your core to avoid improper twisting.