Back pain and sleep
Trying to find a comfortable position to sleep in when your low back is flare up can be hard. Sometimes the one that feels the best short term can be problematic if you do get a long period of sleep. Of course go see your Woodbridge, Dale City VA Chiropractor the next morning! Here are some tips on trying to sleep with low back pain.
Back pain can make it tough to get a good night’s sleep. At the same time, how you sleep may make things worse — while certain sleep positions put strain on an already aching back, others may help you find relief.
Although back pain and sleep problems are linked, the connection isn’t well understood. “There is not a lot of science behind sleep as a major cause of back pain,” says Santhosh Thomas, DO, MBA, a spine specialist with the Cleveland Clinic and associate medical director of the Richard E. Jacobs Medical Center in Avon, Ohio.
Experts do believe, however, that people with sleep problems experience more problems with back pain. “Sleep deprivation is known to affect mood and functional ability and negatively impacts perception of pain,” Dr. Thomas says. Pain in turn can affect the quality of your sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation, leading to a lighter sleep state and more frequent waking throughout the night.
What’s more, there’s a relationship between the severity of pain, overall mood, and the ability to function — and a good night of sleep can improve all these symptoms, at least temporarily, according to a study published in the November 2016 issue of the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.
Worst Sleep Positions for Back Pain
Some sleep positions can put added pressure on your neck, shoulders, hips, lower back, knees, and even your heels, all of which can lead to pain, Thomas says. There’s no one-size-fits-all sleep position to kick back pain, but you can try a few tricks to get it under control so that you can sleep more soundly.
The most common offender? Sleeping on your stomach. “Typically, sleeping on your stomach can flatten the natural curve of your spine, putting some additional strain on your back muscles,” Thomas says.
Plus, stomach sleeping means that your neck is rotated, which can actually result in neck pain or back pain between your shoulders, says Paul Grous, a physical therapist and spine specialist with Penn Therapy & Fitness in Woodbury Heights, New Jersey.
Don’t worry about keeping your body in the same position all night. It’s normal for you to move around a bit while you sleep, and that’s a good thing because a little movement can help ease pressure on your back. “Any sleeping position has the potential to amplify back pain if you maintain it for too long,” Thomas says.
Grous adds that the real culprit may not be sleep position but your daily activity — or a lack of it.
“My opinion of the biggest causative factor for back pain in our population is the amount of time we spend sitting during waking hours,” he says. “We sit too long and we don’t sit properly — we sit slouched with our backs rounded.”
During daylight hours, try to vary your posture as much as possible, and practice good posture when standing and sitting to help ease back pain at night.
Sleep Positions That Help Relieve Back Pain
First, you’ve got to be comfortable to get a good night’s sleep. Thomas suggests making a few simple modifications to your regular sleep position to help take a load off your back:
If you’re a back sleeper: Put a pillow under your knees to allow your spine to maintain its natural curve.
If you’re a stomach sleeper: Put a pillow under your lower abdomen and pelvis to ease back strain.
If you’re a side sleeper: Draw your legs up slightly toward your chest and sleep with a pillow (a full body pillow can be comfortable) between your knees.
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