If you’ve ever had to endure the stinging smart of low back pain at any point in time, you’re not alone. As a matter of fact, low back pain is one of the most common medical complaints, with a recent study revealing that almost 80% of the populace have experienced it at some point in their lives.
Low back pain can manifest as a dull throbbing ache in your lower extremities that doesn’t cause severe discomfort but also doesn’t seem to want to go away either. In such a situation, it only makes its presence felt when you engage in activities that put pressure on your spine, or in other cases when you remain inactive for long. But then again, low back pain can send regular shockwaves of intense pain shooting through you at regular intervals, making even the simplest motion painfully difficult. Needless to say, the implication of this is a dramatic drop in your productive capability, among other things.
But even that is not the extent of damage caused by low back pain. Apart from limiting your productivity during the day, low back pain can also make you lose hours of precious sleep. As you well know, adequate and sufficient sleep can relax your body and muscles, helping you get rid of pains and aches naturally. One of the areas where low back pain is so effective is in making it almost impossible for you to sleep well at night, in effect slowing down the body’s healing process.
Inadequate or insufficient sleep has other negative repercussions for your health beyond this. Without meaning to unduly alarm you, inadequate sleep can lead to an exponential increase in stress levels. Attached to this are issues such as weight gain, depression, reduced cognition, heart disease, you get the drift.
These are debilitating illnesses that should be avoided at all costs, and having regular restful nights rests is a good place to start. If you’ve been finding sleep hard to come by due to the detrimental effects of low back pain, this article provides several simple and actionable tips that can help improve the quality of your sleep and also help get rid of low back pain in the long run.
Causes Of Low Back Pain
Low back pain can be caused by a multitude of factors, some linked to genetics and other underlying medical conditions. Other causes are more natural and commonplace. Nevertheless, low back pain does not require surgery in the vast majority of cases. Here are some of the causes of low back pain:
- Aging: It’s a sad fact of life that as we get older, our organs become less and less resilient. This leaves us vulnerable to several ailments, back pain inclusive. It’s not uncommon for people above 30 years of age to experience more episodes of back pain.
- Spinal Injuries: Injury to the spine caused by prolonged mistreatment or accidents is one of the chief causes of low back pain.
- Medical Conditions: People who suffer from medical conditions such as osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, spinal stenosis, cancer and degenerative disc disease are more likely to experience pain in their spine and back.
- Excessive Lifting: Constantly lifting heavy loads can strain your spine and back muscles, leading to low back pain.
- Bad Posture: Accumulated strain from defective posturing when sitting, walking and especially when lifting heavy objects can contribute to low back pain in the future.
- Inactivity: Sitting still for prolonged periods (i.e in front of the computer at work), especially in chairs that don’t offer support for your spine, can lead to low back pain.
- Excess Weight: Your spine may struggle to support the extra weight. Low back pain is one of the results of excess body weight.
- No Or Inadequate Exercise: Muscles around your back and abdomen that are weak or undeveloped will cause your spine to bear all the weight, leading to back pain.
- Negative Psychological Conditions: Research shows that people who suffer from bouts of anxiety and depression are more susceptible to low back pain.
- Pregnancy: Pregnancy heavily strains the spine and is one of the most common causes of low back pain.
- Dehydration: Lack of consuming water on a daily basis contributes to a higher level of dehydration of the discs, thus allowing more pressure to build up between the vertebrae of the spine. This in turn causes a lack of normal mobility of the spinal joints causing arthritis to build up in the long run.
Best Tips To Sleep With Low Back Pain
A good night’s sleep is very underrated. A lot of people tend to overlook and take for granted the immense healing potentials that adequate and sufficient sleep offers. In addition to helping you get rid of tension and stress accumulated during the day, sleep is also wonderful for your mood and mental health. Sleep can help combat stress and depression, while also improving focus and cognition.
However, people who struggle with low back pain will find it difficult to enjoy all these benefits. This is because sleeping (well) while in constant, overarching pain can be a bit of a tall order. Nevertheless, the following tips can help you discover how to enjoy uninterrupted sleep even while grappling with the effects of low back pain.
- Discover The Perfect Sleeping Position For You
We understand that it might be a bit difficult to pay attention to how you sleep while actually sleeping, but finding out what position works best for you is pretty crucial. Inasmuch as there’s no intrinsically bad sleeping position when you’re suffering from low back pain, some positions are more recommended than others, especially for people who suffer from low back pain. For instance, certain positions enhance alignment, some ensure that your body weight is evenly distributed, while others improve blood flow. However, the arguments in favour of a particular position are moot if you’re not comfortable in it, therefore, your comfort should be the ultimate consideration.
Sleeping on your back is one more popular position because it reduces pressure on your back, spreads body weight more evenly and helps to relieve aches and pains in the joints.
Side sleeping is also a very common sleeping position. It avoids putting pressure on your back, which makes it an ideal position for sleeping while suffering from low back pain.
Experts caution against sleeping on your stomach, with good reason. It places a great deal of pressure on your spine and neck, which makes it a less than ideal position. Nevertheless, if you absolutely cannot sleep in a position other than this, then place a pillow underneath your abdomen to help relieve some of the strain.
Whichever position you feel most comfortable in, you should also invest in good pillows as they can help maximize the benefits of each of them.
- Invest In A Good Mattress
The quality of your mattress has a direct bearing on the quality of your sleep. This becomes more pronounced if you’re struggling with pain of any kind. When it comes to mattresses, bear in mind that bigger does not automatically equate better. By the same token, a firmer or softer mattress may not necessarily help you sleep better. Nevertheless, if you notice that your mattress struggles to bear your weight without sinking, that’s usually a cue that it needs changing.
There’s no hard and fast, one-size-fits-all rule when it comes to the right mattress. Like all other things in life, it all boils down to personal or individual preference. That’s why you should not be afraid to experiment. Try out several mattresses before settling on one. Some manufacturers offer a period of trial, and you can return it if it doesn’t meet your needs. You can also try placing your mattress on the floor if you need extra support.
- Exercise Lightly Before Bed
Indulging in light exercise and stretching can help ease pressure in your joints and muscles, which can in turn greatly reduce stress, relieve low back pain and generally put you in the right frame of mind for a restful sleep. Exercise releases endorphins into your bloodstream, and these endorphins act like anti-stress and pain relief agents. Exercise can also keep depression- which contributes to low back pain- at bay.
Be careful, however, not to overdo it. Exercise also releases adrenaline into the bloodstream, giving you a certain pumped-up feeling that can make it that much harder to sleep. You can do low-intensity exercises such as yoga. Also, consult your doctor or an instructor to learn which poses are safe, so you don’t run the risk of aggravating the pain.
- Don’t Overthink It
Several people who suffer from chronic back pain find themselves dreading the thought of endlessly rolling around in bed all night, consumed with pain. Nightfall holds a special dread for people in such situations, and they really don’t look forward to it.
The mind is a powerful tool, and if it is properly harnessed, it can help you overcome pain in the long run. Getting anxious when bedtime approaches will cause you to focus all your attention on the pain, which will serve no other purpose than to amplify it. What you need to do, then, is to avoid feelings of anxiety and carry on with your usual routine. Speaking of routines, try to get your body used to a regular sleeping pattern. Set a sleeping and waking schedule and try as much as possible to stick to it. If you need a distraction, listen to calming soothing music while in bed and/or perform a session of meditation to get you in a more relaxed state of mind.
- Take A Hot Relaxing Bath Before Bed
Heat, when carefully applied, can help take the sting out of joint pain of any kind, and low back pain is no different. Taking hot baths right before you go to bed can help relax and unknot your muscles and also relieve accumulated tension in your joints. A hot bath can also help reduce inflammation. However, be careful not to set the water too hot. Apart from the risk of burns, overly hot water can raise your body temperature and make it harder for you to sleep, which is the exact opposite of what you’re looking for. If this process doesn’t work or seems to exacerbate your pain, you can turn to the application of ice for a session of 20 minutes maximum on the area of pain in your lower back prior to going to sleep.
Why Choose Chiropractic Care To Sleep Better?
Chiropractic care, once considered a fringe alternative medical health procedure, has experienced an upsurge in popularity in recent times. This can be put down to the fact that greater research has fostered a better appreciation and understanding of the practice. Nowadays, some orthodox medical practitioners (MDs) recommend chiropractic care to their patients who suffer from chronic back pain. Studies reveal that more than 19 million adults are turning to chiropractic treatment for pain and other conditions every year. A further study involving 48 participants revealed conclusively that chiropractic Care can lead to clear improvements in the quality of life of people who suffer from back pain.
Nevertheless, despite the numbers, several people are unaware of the fact that chiropractic care can help them sleep better. It comes as a bit of a surprise that most people still associate chiropractic care with pain management alone. Chiropractic treatment is good for a whole host of health issues apart from back pain, including headaches, muscle and joint injuries, neck pain and other complaints. Chiropractic treatment is also good for insomnia, sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. In actuality, over a third of people who underwent chiropractic treatment confirmed that they experienced better sleep in the direct aftermath, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Why are more and more people opting for chiropractic treatment to help improve the quality of their sleep? This may be because chiropractic treatment offers a more wholesome alternative for sleep management than over-the-counter sleeping pills. These pills are highly addictive and usually, come with nasty side effects. Chiropractic care is holistic, and chiropractors provide counselling on diet, nutrition and healthy lifestyle habits that can help improve the quality of your sleep. Chiropractors can also give advice on proper sleeping postures and recommend mattresses that can help you sleep better, after an evaluation of your needs.
Chiropractic care is also pretty risk-free, as most of the side effects are relatively mild. In fact, spinal manipulation has fewer risks attached to it than nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Beyond this, spinal manipulation directly addresses the issues that lead to loss of sleep in the first instance. Once these issues are resolved, sound sleep will follow as a natural consequence. For instance, patients who suffer from insomnia as a result of chronic neck and back pain will start to experience better sleep once the issues have been resolved by chiropractic care. In case you were wondering, insomnia is the medical condition where people find it extremely difficult to fall and stay asleep.
Chiropractic care, when combined with other therapies, can be very effective in the treatment of insomnia. Several studies point to the existence of a nexus between insomnia and subluxations, and spinal manipulation can be done by chiropractors to correct subluxations. Further, misalignments in the neck and upper body which contribute to sleep apnea can be corrected by chiropractic care. Sleep apnea is a medical condition that leads to irregular respiration while asleep, leading to a lowering of blood oxygen and forcing your brain to wake the rest of the body up in order to restart the breathing process. These two ailments can be effectively treated by chiropractic care.
In addition to all these, chiropractic care helps patients that suffer from sleep disorders deal with these issues by:
- Stimulating blood circulation and flow
- Helping relax your body
- Enhancing the function of the central nervous system
- Relieving tension in your joints and muscles
- Helping relieve and ultimately reduce pain.
5 Best Sleeping Positions For Low Back Pain
Most low back pain complaints resolve themselves after a few days, without your even needing to take medication or seeing a doctor. However, adequate and restful sleep is absolutely crucial to this. Lack of sleep is detrimental to the whole healing process and will instead worsen issues. How do you sleep when it can feel as if your whole body is on pins and needles sometimes? Here are five of the best sleeping positions for low back pain. You can try out all of them or pick out the one you’re most comfortable with. Of course, the quality of your bed (or mattress) plays a major role in the quality of the sleep you’ll be getting.
- On Your Back, With A Pillow Underneath Your Knees
Sleeping on your back has long been touted as one of the best sleeping positions, especially for people who suffer from low back pain. This position offers several benefits: it helps you put less pressure on your back by spreading your weight evenly across your body and also helps you prevent aches and pains when you wake up. Further, this position offers greater alignment.
However, sleeping on your back can make snoring a big issue, while people who suffer from sleep apnea are not encouraged to sleep in this position.
To recreate this position, simply lay on your back, then put a pillow under your knees, keeping your spine in a neutral position.
For additional support, you can also place a towel under the small of your back.
- On Your Back, In A Reclined Position
Asking someone who suffers from low back pain to sleep on a recliner (or in a reclined position) can seem somewhat contradictory and even a little crazy, but it undoubtedly works. Always remember that the best position is the one that you can sleep comfortably in, and if you find you’re most comfortable on recliners or in a reclined position, then, by all means, go for it.
Another way to do it would be to purchase an adjustable bed that offers consummate support and alignment. If for any reason you’re unable to get one, then your recliner will do just fine. All you need to do is to slip a pillow under your back to provide support for your spine.
- On Your Side, With A Pillow Between Your Knees
Most people prefer to sleep on their side. Studies reveal that an overwhelming 63% of sleepers chose this as their sleeping position of choice. Sleeping on your side can aid blood flow and digestion, not to mention also helping you reduce heartburn. Another area where this position wins is that it places no pressure whatsoever on your spine.
Conversely, you may wake up with a numb arm if you sleep in this position. To maximize this sleeping position, put a pillow between your knees. This is to help your body to align properly and rid you of pain in your joints. Also, try to ensure that the shoulder lying closest to your mattress actually touches the mattress. If you need added comfort, place an extra pillow against your chest. This is to help keep your spine aligned. One thing you need to be careful to do is, always switch sides up.
- On Your Side, In The Fetal Position
The fetal position is another popular sleeping position, and it offers much the same benefits that side sleeping does. This position is perfect for people who suffer from herniated discs. Herniation occurs when a disc becomes disengaged from its normal location, causing severe pain to the nerve and joints. When you adopt the fetal position, the space between vertebrae gets opened up.
To adopt this position, lay on your back, then gently roll over to your side. Fold your knees together and slowly bring them up towards your chest. Then curve your body towards your knees.
- On Your Stomach, With A Pillow Beneath Your Abdomen
About 17% of people like to sleep in this position, which is too small or too large a number, depending on your viewpoint. The opinion of most experts is less controversial: avoid sleeping on your stomach because it puts severe pressure on your neck, back and spine. It places your head and spine into unnatural positions, leading to extreme pain and making you a very unhappy camper when you wake up in the morning.
Nevertheless, this position isn’t completely terrible, or no one would actually adopt it. Sleeping on your stomach can help control snoring. It may also help sufferers of sleep apnea cope with the ailment, in some cases.
If you notice that you feel most comfortable in this position, no need trying to change it. To enhance your comfort, you may choose to sleep with or without a pillow, depending on your preference. You may also place a pillow under your abdomen, to help take some of the pressure off your back.