How to Sleep with Lower Back Pain
Quality sleep plays an essential role in your overallwell-being. It allows your body to rest, recover from the day’s work, and balance your mental and emotional states. Quality sleep prepares your body for the challenges of a new day. Unfortunately, pain and discomfort can make getting a good night’s sleep difficult.
The World Health Organization estimates that 619 million people around the globe suffer from lower back pain. That’s a lot of uncomfortable, sleepless nights. Fortunately, there are techniques to navigate this pain. Let’s deep dive into potential ways to overcome lower back pain and get a good night’s sleep.
Understanding Lower Back Pain
To begin, it’s important to understand where lower back pain comes from. Lower back pain describes the discomfort or pain around the lumbar spine region, which comprises the five vertebrae in the lower part of the spine. This can range from a dull ache to sharp, shooting pains.
Chronic lower back pain can result from several factors, one of which is poor posture. Prolonged periods of poor posture can strain the lower back’s muscles and ligaments, leading to the development of pain over time.
Another potential cause of lower back pain is Degenerative Disc Disease, which occurs when the discs between the vertebrae deteriorate, thereby reducing their ability to cushion and support the spine.
If you experience lower back pain that lasts more than a night or two, consult a doctor. Lower back pain can indicate bigger health issues that only a medical professional can diagnose.
The Impact of Lower Back Pain on Sleep Quality
Regardless of the cause of your discomfort, lower back pain is a formidable adversary to getting a good night’s sleep. The stiffness that builds in the lower back after a long day of work is often at its worst at night, when you most need rest and relief.
Lower back pain primarily affects sleep by making it challenging to find a comfortable position. The constant shifting and repositioning may lead to shallow sleep instead of the restorative rest that most people need.
Meanwhile, pain and sleep disorders often go hand-in-hand. Chronic pain, such as lower back pain, may worsen symptoms of sleep disorders like insomnia. As these issues accumulate, it becomes difficult to separate and address the problems affecting a person’s sleep.
Choosing the Right Sleeping Position
The position you sleep in can play a major role in easing back pain, as the right position can promote spinal alignment. Moreover, sleeping in the correct position can significantly reduce pressure on the lumbar region and maintain proper spinal alignment. This, in turn, will help alleviate low back pain and allow for more comfortable sleep.
Let’s consider potential sleeping positions and how they may contribute to reducing discomfort:
Various Sleeping Positions
Back Sleepers: By sleeping on your back, you can evenly distribute your weight along your body’s natural curve. Placing a small pillow beneath your knees while you sleep will also add extra support to your lumbar spine and ease your lower back pain.
Side Sleepers: For side sleepers, adopting a fetal position with your knees drawn towards your chest will increase the space between your vertebrae, therefore reducing the tension on your back. Sleeping with a medium-firm mattress and a pillow between your knees will also help you maintain proper spinal alignment.
Stomach Sleepers: Sleeping on your stomach is the least recommended of all the sleep positions because it flattens the curve of your vertebrae, thereby causing uneven weight distribution on your back. Fortunately, you balance out the weight distribution by placing a pillow between your pelvis and lower abdomen.
Emphasizing Proper Spinal Alignment
Proper spinal alignment means that when you are in a neutral position, your spine is in a straight line from your neck to your lumbar vertebrae. Falling asleep in odd positions can create misalignment, which can cause back pain to occur. Proper alignment minimizes spinal stress and reduces pain, promoting a more comfortable sleep. It’s vital to maintain this alignment throughout the night.
Tips for Sleeping with Lower Back Pain
While sleeping with lower back pain can be daunting, various strategies can enhance your sleep quality and efficacy:
Invest in a Firm Mattress: Opting for a mattress that offers firm support to your lower back is the first strategy to improve your sleep. A medium-firm or firm bed will maintain proper spinal alignment and reduce pressure on the lumbar region.
Select the Right Pillow: Your choice of pillows matters. A very thin or no pillow is often recommended for back sleepers. Side sleepers should use a thicker pillow to support the head and neck, while stomach sleepers may benefit from a small pillow under the pelvis.
Do Light Stretching Before Bed: Stretching before bed helps to mobilize the spine and pelvic area, as well as reduce muscle tension in the lumbar region. Some common stretches you can try before bedtime are the Cat-Cow stretch––the best dynamic stretch to reduce lumbar tension.
Eliminate Excess Noise: Eliminate potential sleep disruptions by eliminating excess noise from your sleep environment. Consider using apps like BetterSleep to create a soothing atmosphere with white noise and nature sounds. Earplugs are another great option if you prefer absolute silence.
Use a Sleep Mask: If ambient light is a concern, a sleep mask can block out unwanted light, helping you achieve deeper sleep.
Consider Sleep Aids: In some cases, you may need to incorporate sleep aids like hypnotics or sleep medicine to temporarily manage sleep disruptions. Please note that you should only use sleep aids for a short period of time to prevent tolerance to the drug.
Back pain may be challenging to manage, especially when you cannot get the restful sleep necessary for proper healing. That’s why experts strongly recommend good, restorative sleep.
While lower back pain may pose challenges to achieving a good night’s sleep, some effective strategies and techniques can help you sleep more comfortably. Some of these strategies will include adjusting your sleep position and choosing the right mattress and pillow. Are you experiencing upper back pain? Check out our other guide for more information.
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