Anyone who’s ever tried to get through the day after a night of disturbed sleep knows how difficult it can be to concentrate and stay mentally sharp. If you suffer from chronic back pain at night, you’re probably dealing with lack of sleep on a daily basis. Back pain can be a debilitating condition that makes even simple movements challenging, but there are tactics that can help you cope with the discomfort and get the kind of restful sleep you need to function effectively throughout the day.
Mattresses are sometimes overlooked by people suffering from back pain because they’re convinced there must be more to the problem than a lumpy, uneven mattress. But a worn-out and underperforming mattress can have a profound effect on back health and your ability to sleep soundly, and it can make back pain significantly worse. If you’ve decided it’s time to start shopping for a new mattress, do plenty of research to find the right one for you and your sleep habits. It should keep your spine in alignment throughout the night and support both head and neck.
A memory foam mattress is an excellent option if you’re having trouble finding a mattress that offers the kind of contouring that lessens back pain and allows you to lay comfortably. Always pay close attention to mattress warranties and special options before making a purchase decision, and read customer and product reviews carefully.
Find Your Sleep Position
You may be a lifelong side sleeper, but back pain at night may force you to modify this position or alter it altogether. Try sleeping with a pillow between your legs with your knees pulled up toward your chest. If that doesn’t work, you’ll need to find a position that’s more conducive to healthful, restful sleep.
For sleeping on your back, a pillow propped up under the knees or a small, rolled-up towel under the small of your back may do the trick. Sleep experts generally don’t recommend sleeping on your stomach because of the strain it places on the back, but if stomach sleeping is the only way you can get to sleep, try it with a pillow under your stomach to relieve some of that back pressure.
Ease in and Out of Bed
This is another factor that’s often overlooked, but hopping in and out of bed or using back muscles as leverage to get out of bed is a sure way to aggravate back pain. Bending forward or making herky-jerky motions can seriously aggravate the problem, so try rolling onto your side and, instead of using your back, use your arms to push up while swinging your legs off the bed. Stand up slowly as you begin to straighten.
Physical exercise may sound like a recipe for further pain, but there are core exercises that can help alleviate your discomfort. Strengthening pelvic, lower back, hip, and abdominal muscles can increase the support you need to reduce lower back pain. Try a series of plank exercises, beginning by placing your hands under your shoulders with both legs straight out. Hold that pose for 30 seconds as you maintain a straight spinal alignment (keep abdominal muscles taut).
Doctors and physical therapists often emphasize the benefits of stretching as a way to prevent lower back pain and improve your sleep. Try doing some simple yoga stretches at night before bed and in the morning. Consider taking a yoga class (also recommended by many doctors) or check out some YouTube videos to learn how to do some basic stretches. Medical research has proven that stretching using yoga poses can reduce lower back pain as well as stress, and leads to better sleep.
Overcoming back pain so you can sleep at night involves several factors, including a supportive mattress, stretching and exercises to strengthen your core, and finding a sleep position that works. Once you’re able to sleep more soundly, you may find that you feel less stressed, which will improve your overall condition.
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