In the quest for restful sleep, back pain can be a huge problem. According to the American Chiropractic Association, as many as 31 million Americans experience lower-back pain. That means a lot of restless nights and uncomfortable mornings – but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are ways to combat those aches so you can wake up refreshed and feeling good.
First: Talk to your doctor
There are many things that could be causing your back pain, so make sure you understand where the discomfort is coming from. It’s possible you might need physical therapy, chiropractic care, or other medical options to get things straightened out. Our suggestions can help some cases, but see a specialist to make sure that they’re good for you.
Check your bed
Even though it felt good when you bought it, your mattress may not be doing the job it should be to support your spine. If you last replaced your mattress and box spring when Britney Spears was topping the charts, you should consider a replacement. The Better Sleep Council suggests replacing your mattress after 7 years, although that can depend on the type of mattress as well. Some will wear out faster than others.
When choosing a mattress, do some research or talk to your doctor about what type is best to help with your back pain issues. A cloud-soft mattress might be soothing at first, but it could be sabotaging your sleep by not providing enough support.
Speaking of, don’t forget about the bedding support, either. If you use a box spring, it should be replaced when you get a new mattress. Box springs can wear out too, meaning you’re not getting the right structure under you. Not sure you want to buy a box spring? Other support, like a platform bed, might do the job..
Exercise your core
You don’t need us to tell you that the right exercise is good for you. As it relates to back pain, strengthening your core can be a huge help. When back muscles and abdominal muscles weaken, they provide less support to your spine. This means pain and injury are more likely. Try improving strength and flexibility in your abdomen, hips, lower back, and pelvis with targeted exercises – again, check first to make sure they won’t make things worse!
Another form of exercise, yoga is good for many people for strengthening and toning (especially those important core muscles). It can even realign your back. Why do it before bed? Because yoga also lowers stress levels and relaxes the muscles. Tense muscles can cause back pain to flare up, so relaxation can be key to better sleep.
Adjust your sleeping position
Certain sleeping positions can ease your back pain. Sleeping on a flat traditional bed focuses pressure on the hips and shoulders, leaving your lower back without support. Changing your position can distribute weight and allow the spine to decompress. Try it out – all you need is a pillow.
-Back sleepers: Put the pillow under your knees to keep the curve in your lower back.
-Side sleepers: Put a pillow between your knees, and if there’s a gap between your waist and the mattress, try putting something there too. You can also try sleeping in the fetal position, with your knees tucked towards your chest. Make sure to switch sides, so you’re not always putting the weight on one side of your body.
-Stomach sleepers: This position isn’t recommended because it can add stress to your neck and put more weight on the spine. However, if this is most comfortable for you, you can try to put the pillow under your pelvis to relieve some of the pressure.
Try an adjustable bed
Adjustable beds like our Rize line were developed to ease aches and pains, so we couldn't end this article without talking about them! The down side of using pillows is that they tend to move out of position, or can be the wrong size or thickness to make sure you get the right support all throughout the night. If your base is adjusted to just the right angles, it's easier to stay in the same spot, without the pillows. Being able to lower and raise sections of the bed to just the right angles for your body provides relief where it’s most needed. With a power base, you can raise the head section for more back and neck support, lower the leg section to take pressure off the lower back, or use positions like zero gravity to distribute weight evenly. You can choose one position for relaxing, and then easily switch to another that’s just right for sleeping.
Motion beds can be good for overall spinal health in ways that a pillow just can’t compete with. They can be used for stretching, aligning your back, and relaxing your muscles. Models like the Aviada even offer an inversion position. Similar to inversion therapy, it provides a full spinal stretch that can reduce muscle spasms and improve circulation. This provides a natural force to decompress the spine and relieve spinal compression.
A few easy changes can help you soothe your back pain and get you the restful sleep you need. Speak to your doctor and start trying them out, so that you’ll be waking up refreshed and energized in no time.
Want to try out an adjustable bed to see how it feels on your back? Find a store near you.