Low back pain causes sleeping difficulties for many people. They may toss and turn all night in an effort to find a position that is comfortable. They get up in the morning feeling worse than when they went to bed. These people miss out on getting the restorative sleep their body needs to function well.
Unfortunately, there is no single solution that helps everyone. Low back pain may be due to a number of conditions including back strain or sprain, lumbar stenosis, disc herniation, or spondylolisthesis. Different things help different people, so it’s beneficial to try a variety of options to determine what provides the most relief from pain. The following tips may be helpful for a better night’s sleep.
Sleep in a neutral position.
Sleeping on the back keeps the spine in a neutral position. This works for many people who suffer from low back pain. The spine is better aligned and pressure points are reduced. Placing a small pillow or rolled towel under the knees or low back helps support the body’s natural curves. Do not over elevate the head and neck.
Sleeping on the stomach puts added stress on the back by flattening the back’s natural curvature. It forces the head to turn to the side, which can lead to neck and upper back pain. Side sleeping may or may not be comfortable. Finding the right pillow is essential for those who prefer a side sleeping position.
Choose a good mattress.
It’s a good idea to re-evaluate your mattress every few years. A mattress that is too soft or saggy may not provide enough support. It allows the body to sink in too deeply, causing the spine to be misaligned and the joints to twist.
A firm mattress may also be problematic. Sleeping on a mattress that is too firm can cause painful pressure points. However, a firm mattress with a pillow top may provide additional padding and cushioning.
A medium-firm mattress is a good compromise. It offers enough support for the back and perhaps the best level of comfort for most people.
Learn core strengthening exercises.
Those with weak core muscles are more likely to injure or strain the low back. The muscle groups in the abdomen, hips, pelvis, and low back need to be strong to support the body’s weight. Targeted exercises that strengthen core muscles can help ease painful low back symptoms. A physician can recommend appropriate core strengthening exercises for the patient and their particular condition. The patient may also be referred for physical therapy to address specific issues.
Try gentle stretches before bedtime.
Research has shown that gentle stretching before bed reduces stress, relaxes tight muscles, and may promote better sleep quality. Some people benefit from yoga. Remember that stretching should be gentle and not painful. Dynamic exercise that increases heart rate should be avoided right before bedtime.