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Are you struggling with chronic back pain? You’re not alone. According to the Global Burden of Disease Study, lower back pain is the leading cause of disability all around the globe. Chronic back pain doesn’t only affect a person’s daily life but it can also mess with their sleep. The most common type of sleep disruption for people who struggle with chronic back pain is having trouble falling asleep. Also, they might frequently wake up during the night or wake much earlier than they desired. As a consequence, the lack of sleep might make your chronic pain even worse worse and you could wake up feeling more pain than usual. Now if you are not suffering from Chronic Back Pain but you wake up feeling Back Pain and it tends to disappear during the day then you should look at this article.
Luckily, chronic back pain is not necessarily caused by some serious medical condition. It can be brought on by awkward sleeping positions, strain from bad posture, unhealthy lifestyle habits, and even stress. This article will help you learn how to sleep with lower back pain and also conclude when is the right time to see a doctor.
Good Sleep is one way to treat Chronic Back Pain
The inability to get a good night’s sleep can hurt you, literally. If chronic back pain prevents you from sleeping well, you might wake up hurting even more. According to some studies, not getting enough sleep can make a person more sensitive to pain. And, unfortunately, you might find yourself in a vicious cycle – back pain can make it hard to sleep and, in return, not getting enough sleep can make your back pain worse.
Good sleep is an important part of your well-being and it is essential to your health. Studies have discovered that Americans who rated their quality of life as excellent or very good actually slept an average of 18 to 23 minutes longer than those who considered their health and quality of life poorer. So, if you’re struggling with getting enough shut-eye because of chronic back pain, here are some tips that might help you understand how to sleep with lower back pain.
Ways to Sleep with Lower Back Pain
If you’re trying to find a way how to sleep with lower back pain then you should probably attempt the approaches that do not require medication first. Such approaches are safe and without any side effects. For example, behavioral approaches can greatly improve the quality of your sleep if practiced on a regular basis.
Taking care of your sleep hygiene, a series of daily strategies used for developing a regular sleeping/waking cycle helps people relax and get the sleep they need. Many psychological techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing exercises, have proved to be quite helpful for those who have a hard time falling asleep.In addition, you can always try changing your sleeping positions as well as your pillow and your mattress. Here are some techniques that might be helpful to all those who have trouble falling asleep with lower back pain.
1. Bedtime Habits that Improve Sleep
Practicing good sleep hygiene on a regular basis can make a world of difference. Try developing the following habits and see if they will help you with your sleep.
- Don’t go to bed unless you are sleepy. Forcing yourself to fall asleep can simply increase the pressure and make it even harder for you to fall asleep. Instead, engage in a relaxing activity, such as listening to music, reading, or even taking a bath, until you become sleepy.
- If you have trouble falling asleep, get out of bed. Lying in bed for hours and thinking about how you can’t sleep will make it impossible for you to fall asleep. If you don’t fall asleep after 20-30 minutes then get out of bed and do something else. When you start feeling sleepy, return to bed. This way you will train your body that the bed is a place to relax and fall asleep.
- Develop your bedtime rituals. These rituals should help you relax and they might include a warm bath, drinking a cup of tea, reading, or even knitting. Engaging in the same ritual every night before bed will help you train your body that it is the time for sleep.
- Avoid using electronic devices before bed. Smartphones, laptops, tablets, and even TV emit blue light that actually mimics daylight. The light might confuse your body about the time of day, making it harder for you to fall asleep.
- Make your bedroom a restful place. You should make sure that your sleeping environment is comfortable and relaxing. Adjust the room temperature, choose a cozy mattress and pillow, and also try making your room as dark as possible. In addition, try to eliminate any distracting sounds since they can make it harder to fall asleep.
For more information how to fall asleep you can read our article that contains tips that should help you sleep like a baby.
2. Develop a Sleep/Wake Cycle
If your chronic back pain is making it hard for you to fall or stay asleep, then you should try developing a sleeping schedule. This means that you should go to bed and wake up the same time every day, including the weekends. This will help your body develop a healthy sleep/wake cycle which is very important for those who have problems with falling and staying asleep. One thing that those who suffer from chronic back pain have in common is that they try to get sleep when they can. For example, if they can’t fall asleep until 2 a.m. they might compensate by sleeping in until noon. This pattern is actually counterproductive and it might disrupt the body’s natural sleep cycle even more.
If you suffer from chronic back pain and go to work, then maintaining the sleep schedule might be even easier for you. In addition, you should also try to maintain your daytime routines as well. For example, you might try eating meals at the same time, engaging in social activities at regular times, and sticking to a bedtime routine. If you tend to work out, make sure that you do it within four to six hours of bedtime. Regular exercise can be very helpful for back pain and it promotes good sleep. However, working out right before bedtime can be disruptive. On the other hand, you can always do relaxing exercises such as yoga before you go to bed.
In addition, you should try to avoid naps during the day. It might seem like a good idea to make up for lost sleep during the day, but it can actually make it even harder for you to fall asleep at night. If you have to take a nap, make sure that it doesn’t last more than 30 minutes.
3. Try a different Sleeping Position
If you’re struggling with chronic back pain then you already know that some sleeping positions are more comfortable than others. Certain sleeping positions can relieve your back pain so it is important for you to find the one that feels the most comfortable. You can always use additional pillows for extra support. For example, you can try putting a pillow between your legs.
If you like sleeping on your side, you can put a pillow between your knees and then draw the knees toward your chest. Back sleepers can always put a pillow under their knees or their back.
It is recommended to avoid sleeping on your stomach since that sleeping position can put unnecessary pressure on your back. If you absolutely must sleep on your stomach then try putting a small pillow underneath it.
4. Get a Mattress that fits your needs
With so many mattresses available, it is hard knowing which one is the right one, especially if you suffer from chronic back pain. In general, the mattress you need depends on your body and personal preferences as well. For example, a soft mattress is a great choice for people whose hips are wider than their waist because it will providea proper position for their spine.
When it comes to chronic back pain, doctors used to recommend firm mattresses. However, it turns out that people with lower back pain actually sleep worse on hard mattresses. On the other hand, a mattress that is too soft can cause problems as well. You may sink in too deep and this can, as a result, cause even more pain. That is why it is a good idea to consider getting a mattress for back pain, made specifically for people who struggle with lower back pain.
If you can, try to sleep on several different mattresses. Visit your friends, family members, or stay in a hotel to see what type of mattress feels the best for you. You can even try placing your mattress on the floor to see if the additional support will make any change. Or, simply put a sheet of plywood between the box spring and the mattress to see if you need a harder mattress. A mattress topper for Back Pain is a good alternative in case you cannot afford a new mattress right now.
5. Get in and out of Bed Carefully
This is an obvious tip which many tend to forget about. Try to be very careful when you get in and out of your bed. You might not be aware of the quick motions you do that cause you even more back pain.
Every morning, roll over onto one side and push yourself up with your arms. Then, you move your legs out of your bed and stand up. When the time comes to go back to bed simply reverse this routine.
6. Do Exercises for Your Core
Regular physical activity can improve the quality of your sleep and also help reduce your back pain. To be more precise, you should focus on exercises that strengthen your core, that is, the muscles in your lower back, abdomen, hips, and pelvis.
Building strength in core muscles can lower the chances of you straining your back and experiencing back pain during the night. One great exercise for core muscles is holding a plank position since it tightens these muscles. Place your hands under your shoulders and put your legs out straight. Hold the pose for 15 to 30 seconds and try to keep your body in a straight line.
7. Try Yoga Before Bed
Research has shown that yoga or any other type of stretching can reduce lower back pain. Stretching can also reduce your stress and make you fallasleep faster. However, if you suffer from chronic back pain you should consult your doctor first. Some poses are safe while others might make your pain even worse. In addition, you might want to use yoga props that will provide additional support. Or, instead of doing yoga on your own take a few classes with your friends. A yoga instructor will make sure that you’re doing the poses the right way and breathing properly.
If you take action your Back Pain should get better
Living with chronic pain can be quite challenging, especially if you’re unable to find a way how to sleep with chronic back pain. The best way to get a good night’s sleep is actually to get rid of chronic back pain. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. If your chronic back pain is caused by factors such as your sleeping position, mattress, or even stress, then you might treat it on your own. However, if the cause of the pain is medical then you should speak to a doctor.
If you’re experiencing severe or worsening back pain, particularly after an injury or a fall, then you should seek professional help. You should also speak to a doctor if the pain you’re experiencing gets worse after resting or sleeping at night. A doctor will recommend proper treatment as well as lifestyle changes that will help you get a good night’s rest.
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