Back pain can be caused by any number of things: injury, inflammation, posture — even your sleeping position. Whatever the cause is, if you have any form of back pain, there’s a good chance that it’s hard for you to get a good night’s rest. Instead of suffering through it, try these ideas to dial down the pain and up your relaxation level to get the sleep you need.
If you aren’t sleeping well, start by asking yourself how you sleep. Your sleeping position is important because it determines how well-supported your back is. Sleeping on your stomach is the worst position because it provides no support to your spine. You’re better off sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees to get your spine in proper alignment or on your back with a pillow under your knees. The way you get up in the morning makes a difference, as well. Instead of sitting straight up, Spine Universe recommends rolling to the side of your bed and using your ab muscles and arms to help push yourself up.
Sleeping on the right mattress is just as important as how you sleep. If your mattress is older, there’s no getting around the fact that it is probably sagging, which means your spine isn’t properly supported. The best type of mattress can vary from person to person, including traditional innerspring mattresses, foam, or Tempur-Pedic. However, the most important thing is to choose a mattress that is high quality and is comfortable for you and your needs. You’ll also need to take your size and sleeping style into account. For instance, larger-sized individuals with back pain find relief with innerspring mattresses, while side sleepers often do better with hybrids.
Getting a good night’s sleep starts with your mental state. If you’re going to bed stressed out, it doesn’t matter how comfortable you are — those racing thoughts will still keep you awake. If this sounds familiar, think about your home environment and how you can make it more relaxing. Do you have clutter lying around? Clutter can be a major source of stress at home, so decluttering is an effective way to create a sense of order that reduces stress.
After reducing clutter and making sure every item has its own “home,” consider what your space needs to feel more relaxed. Bringing a bit of nature inside with houseplants has been shown to improve your mood. Another way to get a little mental boost from nature is to use a diffuser for essential oils. Shape recommends lavender oil for stress relief and relaxation.
Getting enough light during the day, whether from sunlight or indoor lighting, is another great mood booster. The key is to make changes to your entire home — not just your bedroom — that can make it a space which reduces stress and promotes better sleep.
Even with a stress-free home environment, you still want to take time to relax before bed. Many people benefit from setting a regular bedtime routine. Think of activities that help quiet your mind and make you feel calm, such as breathing exercises, having a cup of tea, reading, or listening to soothing music. Just be careful to avoid activities that have the opposite effect, including using electronics and drinking alcohol or caffeine.
It’s also very important to pay attention to your diet. After all, what you put into your body can have a major impact on your overall well-being. For example, adding more cruciferous vegetables (kale, Brussels sprouts) can help ease joint pain and improve your bone health. If vegetables aren’t your thing, reach for a bowl of berries or try some warm bone broth. Simply put: Improving your diet can work wonders for your body, which can help you sleep at night.
For someone who has pain, taking a warm bath as part of your routine is not only soothing to your mind but it also helps release tension in muscles. Exercise is another activity that can either help when it comes to back pain.
For seniors, look for low-impact activities that can not only boost your health but contribute to decreasing pain. Swimming, yoga, tai chi, and Pilates are all worthwhile options. Whatever exercise you do, try to avoid doing anything strenuous too close to bedtime because it can make muscles tight and lead to more pain. As long as you do it earlier in the day, exercises that strengthen your core can be beneficial. Gentle stretches are also good for relieving muscle tension and reducing pain.
Many different factors affect how we sleep, so it may take more than just one solution to see a difference. Taking this approach will help relax your muscles and your mind before bed. These strategies may not eliminate pain completely, but they can help you rest better tonight.