Bedtime Tips for People Who Suffer from Back Pain

Photo by:  Romina Farias  on  Unsplash

Photo by: Romina Farias on Unsplash

GUEST AUTHOR: Cheryl Conklin

According to the American Chiropractic Association, back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide. Back pain affects people of all ages and backgrounds. Since the back, neck, and spine all contain complex systems of bones, joints, ligaments, discs, and muscles, the causes of back pain are varied and sometimes hard to pinpoint. Back pain can be due to sprained muscles or ligaments, sports injuries, arthritis, inflammation, and psychological stress. 

Back pain can impede life in many ways, but one of the most damaging is sleep deprivation. Persistent back pain can make it difficult for people to fall asleep. Even if they manage to fall asleep, the quality of the rest can be disturbed by tossing and turning related to the discomfort. Sleep deprivation can make back pain worse, but the negative effects don’t end there. Not getting enough sleep makes it substantially more difficult to function the next day, as you are prone to experience cognitive issues including memory loss, moodiness, increased clumsiness, brain fog, reduced balance, and a weakened immune system. Furthermore, sleep deprivation raises your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. 

As with any medical problem, it’s important to talk to your doctor about your chronic pain and sleep problems. There could be a serious issue that’s causing both issues, and your physician can recommend treatments and/or therapies to alleviate this troublesome situation. However, if you’re on Medicare, it’s important to determine if therapies and treatments are covered, so check your coverage beforehand. If you’re having difficulty navigating the website, there are online guides and resources that can make finding the info you need a little easier.

How to Sleep Better with Back Pain

Take It Easy on Yourself

If you spend all day doing strenuous work, you’ll never give yourself a chance to heal. And while it’s often difficult to avoid certain tasks, you can find ways to take some of the burdens off your shoulders. For instance, instead of coming home from work and immediately diving into a full evening’s worth of cleaning, try to spread those tasks throughout the week. And if you discover that’s still a little too much for your back to bear, hiring a cleaning service to attack the problem. In East Greenwich, Rhode Island, a maid service costs around $125 and $228 per cleaning, so it’s easy to fit into your budget, even if you only take advantage of these services every so often.

Reduce Joint Inflammation 

You are what you eat. If you’re eating a bunch of salt, sugar, and saturated fat, you are likely a bloated ball of pain plagued with inflammation. Adjusting your diet is one of the best things you can do to reduce back pain. Certain whole foods can actually alleviate joint pain while supporting healthy muscle development. To alleviate back pain at night, fill your daily diet with healthy-joints foods, like cruciferous vegetables and vitamin C-packed fruits like pineapple, mango, kiwi, and oranges.

Strengthen Your Core

Your core muscles make up the bulk of your abdominals and back, and play a critical role in supporting your spine. Your core muscles likely don’t get a good workout during the day-- especially if you spend your time sitting behind a desk or wheel. Everyone needs to exercise for better sleep, but if you suffer from back pain, it’s even more important to focus on strengthening your core muscles when you work out. Include 20 to 30 minutes of core-strengthening exercises into your daily routine, and consider other ways to strengthen it throughout the day, such as switching out your desk chair for an exercise ball for 30-minute intervals during your workday. 

Switch Your Sleep Position 

If you suffer from lower back pain, certain sleep positions can help relieve the pressure put on that area of the body for less pain. 

  • Sleep on your side with a pillow placed between the knees

  • Sleep on your side with knees pulled to the chest in a fetal position

  • Sleep on your stomach with an extra pillow under the abdomen

  • Sleep on your back with a pillow wedged under the knees (you can buy one for $29.95)

  • Sleep on your back in a reclined position enabled by an adjustable bed

The sleep position that is best for you depends on what relieves the most lower back pressure. Make sure to keep proper spinal alignment when adjusting your sleep position by aligning your ears, shoulders, and hips on top of each other. When looking for pillows, choose firmness that correlates with your particular sleep position. Back sleepers benefit from thinner pillows and models with more padding at the neck. Side sleepers do best with a very firm pillow with an extra-wide gusset that creates space between the ear and shoulder. Stomach sleepers should aim to use the thinnest pillow possible or no pillow at all. 

Back pain affects millions of people and commonly contributes to sleep deprivation. Not only does a lack of sleep make back pain worse, but it also manifests in other mental and physical ailments. A healthy diet reduces inflammation for less back pain at night, while core exercises support a strong spine for less pain every day. Furthermore, the right sleep position and pillow can relieve back pressure, making it easier to fall asleep. 

Ms. Conklin created because she believes one can’t have physical health without mental health and vice versa.