Did you know that an estimated 80% of adults will experience some sort of back pain at some point in life? This discomfort is further exacerbated for individuals who suffer from chronic conditions such as cervical degenerative disc disease, adult degenerative scoliosis and compression fractures amongst many others. One of the most common complaints we hear from people who are experiencing spine issues is the fact that sleeping is sometimes more tortuous than it is relaxing.
Pain and sleep have a complex relationship — pain disrupts sleep and poor sleep leads to more pain. If you are someone who is struggling to get a good night’s sleep due to spinal issues, this is the article for you. Today, we have a look at 6 expert tips that may help alleviate pain and discomfort for better sleep, so read on to find out more.
1. A Quality Mattress Is Vital
Considering we spend a whopping one-third of our lives asleep (or at least laying on a bed), ensuring that you choose the right mattress for your body type is key. The age and quality of your mattress can have a massive effect on your spinal health and could even provide insufficient support for spine alignment over time. So, what is the best mattress for bad backs? Experts recommend skipping softer and seemingly more comfortable mattresses for firmer varieties that provide you with the support you need all night long. Contrary to popular belief, a firm mattress isn’t synonymous with an uncomfortable mattress — firmness stops your body from sinking down into a mattress, allowing you to adopt a neutral sleeping position that can provide pressure relief to your upper and lower back throughout the night. So, if your mattress has been around for longer than its welcome, it just may be time to head out and get yourself a new one.
2. Check Your Pillow
Another aspect that we cannot ignore is the quality of your sleeping pillow. Your pillow’s biggest responsibility is to help maintain the natural curve of the spine when you’re sleeping as this helps in relieving tension during the night. Pillows that are too soft or too high/firm may add strain to your neck whilst you are asleep which can lead to pain, stiffness and discomfort in the morning. To maintain spine alignment, we recommend opting for a memory foam pillow that conforms to the contours of your head. Be sure that the pillow you choose is also at a comfortable height that doesn’t cause your neck to strain and you’re good to go!
3. Switch Up Your Sleeping Position
Your sleeping position is just as important as having a high-quality mattress and pillow. Although there is no “correct” or one size fits all answer when it comes to sleeping positions, the ideal solution is to find a position that equally distributes pressure along your spine. One option is to sleep on your back with a pillow placed under your knees to help maintain the normal curve of the spine as you sleep. If sleeping on your back isn’t your first choice, you may also consider sleeping in a fetal position on your side. One thing you definitely want to avoid is sleeping on your stomach as this puts the most strain on your spine, so avoid this at all costs if possible.
4. Utilise Targeted Pain Relief
If you are still experiencing discomfort that gets in the way of a good night’s rest, experimenting with targeted pain relief is something that you may want to look into. Many patients who suffer from spinal or back issues resort to cold/hot therapies before bedtime to help alleviate any symptoms of pain or discomfort. Other popular forms of targeted pain relief include pain relief cream (often referred to as Deep Heat), and heat patches that you can stick on affected areas of your body prior to getting some shut-eye. Although this option isn’t the magic cure for back ailments, it is one that can help alleviate pain temporarily in order to allow your body to rest and rejuvenate.
5. Take A Bath Before Bed
Did you know that sitting in the bath before you go to sleep can actually help you fall asleep 90% faster? A warm bath can also relax your muscles, ease pain in joints, improve oxygen and blood flow and most importantly, encourage your body to release pain-combating endorphins. When drawing a bath, be sure that your bath water is warm to the touch and not scalding hot. You can also use essential oils to help yourself further relax by easing tense muscles and other tissues in pain affected areas of your body.
6. Engage In Some Light Stretching
Lastly, another great way to reduce nighttime pain is to engage in some light stretching before bedtime — and by light, we mean light! Too much activity prior to bedtime may delay sleep and affect sleep quality, so be sure to go easy with your nighttime stretches. There are a wide variety of stretches that you can do on your bed, from pelvic tilts and knee hugs to gentle bridges and spinal twists. Light stretching improves blood flow and relieves muscle tension — both of which can help manage pain for a quality night of rest. Of course, it is important to note that you must consult with your doctor before engaging in any new physical activity just to ensure that you aren’t potentially doing further damage to your spine.
Getting a quality night of sleep when you suffer from spine and back issues may be challenging, but it certainly isn’t impossible. We sincerely hope that the techniques and tips that we have shared in today’s article help you combat pain for a better night’s rest. All the best!