There's nothing more frustrating than being unable to sleep at night.
No matter how comfortable your bed might be, when you're suffering from lower back pain, getting that all -important rest can be tricky!
Sleep is incredibly important for our health and well-being, and is particularly vital when you're trying to heal a back injury. If you're looking to reduce pain, boost comfort, and wake up every morning feeling refreshed, then we've got all the tips you need to have the best night's rest possible.
This little guide will help you to find the best sleeping positions and styles for you, so that poor sleep will be a thing of the past!
How to Sleep with Lower Back Pain
What causes lower back pain?
Lower back pain is surprisingly common, and it can affect anyone regardless of their age, gender, or activity levels.
The lower area of your back is generally known as the lumbar spine - and it actually carries the majority of your body's weight. It's involved in almost everything you do throughout the day, including lying down to rest.
The entire spinal cord works as a protective channel for the delicate nerves that connect your brain to other parts of your body. Due to the fact you lumbar spine does more work each day, the vertebrae in that area are far more likely to shift and irritate the nerves they protect. For this reason, it's really important to stay mindful of your lower back as you move, so that you don't put any more pressure on an already hardworking area.
Not only this, but your spine also includes soft cartilage discs, that act like cushions between different sections of your spine. Sometimes, these discs can move and put unwanted pressure on the nerves that are nearby - this is known as a herniated disc, and it can also cause significant back pain.
Your spinal discs can also be affected by degenerative disc disease. This is where the cartilage wears away over time, so that your spine receives less support. This condition can cause long-lasting lower back and neck pain, due to the fact that these are the areas you tend to rely on the most.
Pain in your back can also be caused by other conditions such as sciatica or sprains - so it's always best to consult your Doctor for medical advice if you have any major or long-lasting concerns.
What can make lower back pain worse?
Lower back pain can be affected by a variety of factors, so it's important to take preventative measures so that your pain doesn't get worse over time.
Unfortunately, lack of sleep can greatly affect pain in the lumbar spine. You're more likely to experience pain more acutely when you've had poor sleep than when you're well-rested. Experiencing greater pain can make it harder to achieve a good night of rest, which will in turn exacerbate your discomfort. These two factors form a cycle that can be hard to break out of.
To help support and protect your lower back, it's vital that you try to maintain good posture throughout the day. People with poor posture can inadvertently irritate the nerves in their back, by holding their spine in an unnatural way. Don't hunch your shoulders or strain your neck, but try to 'stack' your shoulders over your hips, to maintain the natural curve of your spine.
You should also be mindful of the way you move - especially when you're carrying something. Twisting too sharply when getting out of bed, or using the wrong position to lift a heavy object can strain your spine or encourage a herniated disc.
It may seem simple, but taking the time to move carefully, and avoiding movements that are likely to cause strain can greatly reduce lower back pain. Being mindful of your lower back and making sure your spine has the right support is a sure way to help you sleep better.
How can I relieve my back pain fast?
If you're looking to alleviate back pain quickly, here are a few things that will provide fast pain relief:
- Using a Warm or Cool Compress: Using something hot or cold on a problem area is an excellent way to achieve relief from any discomfort. It will help to quickly soothe any strain, and can easily be done at home or work with a heat pad or hot water bottle.
- Gentle Activity: It may seem like the best approach, but reducing movement in your back will actually make any pain worse. Instead, try to keep moving to prevent causing pressure on the spine, and to encourage your body to heal. Light forms of exercise, such as a short walk, will have the best results!
- Stretching: Doing some gentle stretches that are tailored to people with back pain can encourage your spine to relax, and really reduce any strain. Make sure to move carefully into each stretch, and to hold each position for a few minutes for the best effect.
What are the best sleeping positions for lower back pain?
No matter if you like to sleep on your side or on your front, here are a few of the best sleeping positions for different sleeping preferences, so that you can get the best quality rest possible:
Sleeping on your stomach isn't always the healthiest sleeping position - but if it's your preferred sleeping style then here's an easy way to make it beneficial for your spine and reduce low back pain:
- Select two firm, supportive pillows.
- Place one underneath your head to ensure your neck is supported.
- Position the second pillow underneath your pelvis - this will allow your back to maintain the natural curve, and prevent too much pressure being created in your lumbar spine.
- Enjoy your night's rest!
If you're a dedicated back sleeper, here's how to achieve the perfect sleeping posture and prevent back pain:
- Select two pillows, or substitute one pillow for a folded towel.
- Place a pillow underneath your head as usual, making that sure your neck is comfortable.
- Position the towel or second pillow under your knees - this will ensure you spread your weight as evenly as possible, so that you don't put unnecessary pressure on your lumbar spine.
If you prefer sleeping on your side then you're incredibly fortunate - there's actually a few different methods you can try to reduce low back pain:
- Carefully get into bed, and lay on your side as usual.
- Bend and curl your legs up, so that your knees are pointing towards your chest - you'll now be in the fetal position, which is an excellent way to stretch out your back as you rest.
- For extra comfort, take a firm pillow and place it between your legs - this will prevent you adopting an unhealthy posture as you sleep, and provide knee support, too!
- Try to vary which side you sleep on, to avoid irritating the nerves on one particular side.
Extra Tip: If you are sleeping on an adjustable bed, sleeping on your side can also help you with your lower back pain problem!
Why is my sleeping position important?
Finding the best sleeping position for your preferred sleeping style is vital. Not only will it keep you comfortable throughout the night, but it can actually benefit your body in a range of ways.
A healthy sleeping position will allow your body to stay supported as it rests. It will allow you to maintain the ideal spinal curve, and won't cause unnecessary strain or pain. Your nerves will stay protected, so you'll be able to wake up refreshed. Good quality sleep can also encourage your body to heal, and will prevent pain from getting worse.
Not only this, but using sleeping positions that reduce back pain will also benefit your body as a whole. By ensuring your spine is correctly aligned, they ensure your back, head and neck are all protected, and can even benefit your knees, too!
Extra Tips for Perfect Sleep Hygiene
If you're determined to achieve a good night's sleep, here are some handy extra ideas to make sure you stay as comfortable as possible:
- Choose the Right Mattress: No matter if you're a side sleeper or prefer to sleep on your back, you won't have good sleep if your mattress isn't supportive! Try to select something that's not too firm, but not too soft either - this way you won't create any pressure points, and you'll ensure your body maintains the correct position throughout the night!
- Choose the Right Pillow: Your head and neck are intricately connected, and working to reduce neck pain can greatly benefit your back, too! No matter your favorite sleep position, always make sure you use a firm pillow that will take care of your neck as you move at night.
- Create the Perfect Sleeping Environment: Poor sleep can make back pain worse, so try to make sure your sleeping area has everything you need for the best rest possible. Use a sleep mask to block out light, and wear ear plugs if you're a light sleeper. Choose soft bed sheets that won't irritate your skin, and try to make sure the room temperature is fairly cool, too.
- Avoid Nicotine: Keep in mind that Nicotine can cause the cartilage discs in your spine to deteriorate more quickly than usual, which can result in your spine having less support, and your nerves undergoing more strain. If you're trying to achieve better sleep, consider reducing how much you smoke.
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