Many people experience difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. For those who experience frequent chronic lower back pain, getting a good night’s sleep can be especially challenging. Lumbar pain can leave you tossing and turning all night and may even leave you feeling exhausted in the morning.
Fortunately, restless nights aren’t inevitable, not even for individuals with back pain. Though it’s not easy for everyone to change their sleeping habits, modifying your sleeping position and behavior is crucial to improving the quality of your rest.
Are you tired of experiencing lower back pain while sleeping? Read on to discover the best tips and tricks for sleeping well with lumbar pain.
Solidify Your Sleep Hygiene
Sleeping better despite your back pain will require you to improve your overall sleeping routine. These tips will improve your overall sleep quality.
Most of us sleep poorly because we insist on sticking to old habits that simply aren’t working for us. Do you fall asleep at vastly different hours on weekdays and weekends? Do you love having a cup of coffee with your evening dessert? Do you stay on your phone, tablet, or computer until 10 minutes before bedtime? Though these habits are seemingly unrelated to your back pain, such behaviors will prevent you from sleeping soundly, increasing your pain and exhaustion both day and night.
The best ways to improve your sleep quality including the following:
- Schedule your bedtime. Though most of us wake up at similar hours throughout the week, many of us keep widely variable sleep times, hitting the sack at 10 pm one night and 2 am the next. Instead, schedule an hourly window in which you plan on going to bed. Even if you’re usually a night owl, aim for a bedtime between 11 pm and 12 am. Your body will thank you.
- Shut off your electronics during the hour before you go to bed. The blue light emanating from your devices hinders the quality of your sleep. Use this time to read, stretch, and relax instead.
- Ensure that your sleeping environment is silent and dark. It has been proven that even the light emitted by a single candle flame is enough to interfere with the depth and quality of your rest. If you like to fall asleep with your TV blaring or iPod playing, break the habit now. Your body cannot properly relax while extensive noise continues in the background.
- Limit the alcohol, caffeine, and food you consume in the hours immediately before you go to bed. These substances can cause you to sleep poorly and may force you to take bathroom breaks during the night, waking you up and causing unnecessary flare-ups of your pain.
- Keep your bedroom cool. A lower temperature in your room will allow you to fall asleep more quickly and rest more soundly. If you need to warm up before falling asleep, consider taking a hot bath or warming up with a heating pad before turning off the lights. Sleeping in a cool room will allow your back and body to fully relax during the night, reducing your pain and improving your sleep quality overall.
Reconsider Your Sleeping Position(s)
Finding the proper sleeping position for you is the surest way to reduce the back pain you’re experiencing at night.
- For Stomach Sleepers: Unfortunately, sleeping on your stomach is the worst sleeping position for those who experience back pain. This sleeping position strains the neck and tightens the lower back, putting strain on the vertebrae in the lumbar region on the spine. Avoid sleeping in this position if possible. If you must sleep on your stomach, place a pillow under your pelvis and try to sleep with a pillow under your head.
If you suffer from a back condition such as sciatica or are recovering from a back injury, sleeping on your stomach is a bad habit worth breaking. Consider securing a tennis ball or other such object in the front chest pocket of a sleeping shirt. In doing so, you’ll be much less able to sleep comfortably on your stomach, forcing you to sleep in a healthier position.
- For Back Sleepers: Back sleeping is a decent position for back pain sufferers. Though not the ideal sleeping position, this position is a good alternative to stomach sleeping. Consider placing a pillow behind your knees and sleeping with a supportive pillow to reduce back pain while sleeping in this position.
- For Side Sleepers: Sleeping on your side is one of the best positions for those with lumbar pain. If, however, you are sleeping in this position while placing one leg and foot higher than the other, you should try changing your ways. Sleeping in this way twists the torso and spine, placing strain on your lumbar vertebrae. Instead, try sleeping with a pillow between your legs or use a body pillow to help support you in a better position. If your legs always seem to drift apart, try tying your ankles together for a few nights. Though this may seem like a crude technique, it just might train your legs to stay where they should during the night.
Acquire Any Necessary “Accessories”
If you continue to experience chronic back pain even after modifying your sleeping habits, it may be time to change other aspects of your sleeping routine and environment.
- If you are sleeping on an old mattress, it may, in fact, be your bed that is exacerbating your back pain and preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep. Consider purchasing a mattress that is the right firmness and material for your sleeping position and back condition. Your body and mind will thank you for the change.
- Consider improving your waking habits as well. Purchase an ergonomic desk chair to improve your sitting posture and add stretches and exercises to your routine. These changes will reduce the pain you experience during the day as well as the night.
- If you are struggling to change your sleeping position or are still otherwise experiencing pain at night, consider purchasing additional pillows or a memory foam mattress cover to assist you in getting comfortable at night.
- If you are still experiencing chronic pain at night or are having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, consult your doctor for additional pain medication and/or sleep aids. Doing so will ensure that you’ll finally experience the relief you deserve.
Addressing your sleep hygiene, daily habits, and sleeping positions are the best ways to ensure that your lower back pain will not flare up during the night.
Note that if you only experience back pain while lying down in bed, you should see your doctor as soon as possible. This may be a sign of a more serious back or spinal condition.
For all other back pain conditions, these tips and tricks will improve the quality of your sleep and reduce your back pain. By abandoning old habits and implementing new ones, you can improve your spinal health and sleep quality, helping you to feel better overall.