Things You Should Know About Sleep And Low Back Pain
It’s hard to sleep with any kind of pain. But in particular can make it very difficult to get a good night’s rest. That’s because your back is more sensitive to your positioning than other parts of the body, says HSS spine specialist .
“During the day, people are able to move around and reposition in ways that can help relieve back pain,” he explains. “At night, it’s hard to keep repositioning while also getting the restful sleep you need.”
But just because back pain is getting in the way of your slumber doesn’t mean you need to take it lying down. Dr. Griffin offers up five things to know that could help you get a more restorative night’s sleep, free from low back pain.
On The Back In A Reclined Chair Or Bed
This might help people with lower back pain, particularly those with isthmic spondylolisthesis, a condition in which one spinal vertebra slips over the vertebra right below.
If a person gets significant relief from resting in a reclined chair, it may be worth investing in an adjustable bed that can be positioned in the same way.
Finding Your Next Step
Which tips will you try this evening? Consider observing your breathing, meditating, and clearing your mind at various times throughout the day.
Releasing tension as we encounter it is beneficial for muscles, joints, and nerves. Do what you can to minimize the effects of stress and potential injury during your waking hours.
As evening approaches, be willing to let go of the day and focus on sleeping pain-free
Read Also: Can A Bed Frame Cause Back Pain
Avoid Sleeping On Your Stomach
If you suffer from sciatica, you should avoid sleeping on your stomach. Stomach sleeping is considered the worst sleeping position.
This unpleasant position flattens the spines natural curve, and when your head is tilted to one side, it strains the neck. Its better to avoid this position, even if it relieves sciatica so that you do not suffer future back or neck trouble.
In case you can only sleep on your stomach, place a small pillow under your abdomen. Those with degenerative disc disease will find this particularly helpful.
Back sleepers and stomach sleepers can be at greater risk of lower back pain. A possible cause of this is an increase in pressure in the small joints of your spine.
Treating Lower Back Pain: How Much Bed Rest Is Too Much
Back pain is one of the most common reasons why people visit a health care provider. The good news is that the pain often goes away on its own, and people usually recover in a week or two. Many people want to stay in bed when their back hurts. For many years, getting bed rest was the normal advice. But current studies recommend no bed rest at all and stress that staying in bed longer than 48 hours not only wont help but it may, in fact, actually delay your recovery. Heres why:
Staying in bed wont help you get better faster.If youre in terrible pain, lying down for a day to help ease the distress may seem like a good idea, but moderating your activities and staying active in a limited way is a more effective way to control your symptoms. Research suggests that if you can find comfortable positions and keep moving, you may not need bed rest at all.Research shows that:
- Lying down longer than a day or two day isnt helpful for relieving back pain.
- People can recover more quickly without any bed rest.
- The sooner you start moving, even a little bit, or return to activities such as walking, the faster you are likely to improve.
Who needs bed rest?Almost no one! The only people who might require time in bed are those with unstable spinal fractures awaiting surgery.
When should I see a health care provider?You should see your health care provider right away if:
- Heat or ice
Check with your health care provider before starting an exercise program.
Recommended Reading: Which Tempurpedic Mattress Is Best For Lower Back Pain
Do Be Mindful Of How You Get In And Out Of Bed
Jerking yourself out of bed quickly or getting in too fast can exacerbate lower back pain, so make sure youre careful about doing each:
When getting into bed, first sit down near the place where you want to sleep. Then, using your hands as support, bend your knees and slowly lie down on your side. Take care to keep your torso straight.
When getting out of bed, you basically want to do the opposite. Roll onto your side first towards the edge of the bed, bend your knees, then use your arms to help push yourself up and swing your legs over the side. This will help you keep from bending at your waist, which can engage your back.
When To See A Doctor
Anyone with severe or worsening back pain, particularly after a fall or injury, should speak to a doctor. People should also speak to a doctor if they experience pain that gets worse after resting or at night.
People should seek immediate medical advice for back pain if it is accompanied by any of the following:
- numbness in the legs, buttocks, or groin area
- difficulty passing urine
You May Like: How To Relieve Lower Back Pain From Pulled Muscle
The Best Sleep Position For Your Spine: On Your Back
Sleeping on your back is the best for putting your spine in a neutral alignment, but only 8% of people sleep in this pose.
A few strategically placed pillows can boost the benefits of back sleeping. A small pillow underneath your head and neck will help keep your spine straight. Adding a pillow under your knees will provide even more support and comfort, as it encourages your spine to maintain its natural curve.
Though back sleeping is the best for your spine, it has a few drawbacks:
On The Side With A Pillow Between The Knees
Lying on the side can be comfortable, but it can pull the spine out of alignment, straining the lower back.
It can be easy to correct this issue by placing a firm pillow between the knees. This raises the upper leg, restoring the natural alignment of the hips, pelvis, and spine.
To get comfortable in this position:
Anyone who usually moves from their side to their front may also want to try hugging a large pillow against their chest and stomach to help keep their back aligned.
Don’t Miss: Why Do I Have A Sharp Pain In My Back
Sudden Pain In The Lower Back
The harmless back pains that result from intensive physical activity typically disappear after a day of good rest.
You must contact the nearest emergency department if you have experienced sudden, extremely severe back pain without engaging in any physical activity. The pain in your back might indicate you have a problem with your back muscles or even your spinal cord.
Does Laying On The Hard Floor Help Lower Back Pain
Some people find laying on the floor supports their back and keeps their spine neutral, but this doesnt work for everyone. The floor is too solid for side sleepers, but it might be okay for some back and stomach sleepers. If youre planning on sleeping on the floor, still use pillows so your head and neck are supported.
Don’t Miss: Can Alcohol Cause Back Pain
Tips To Sleep With Back Pain
Sleep is the best remedy for back pain. A good nights rest will make it easier for your body to recover naturally. If youre finding it difficult to sleep because of the pain in your lower back, there are a few things you can try, from changing your sleeping position to optimizing your relaxation before bedtime.
No matter what you do, remember that alignment is key. When you sleep, you should focus on the alignment of your spine. You can do this by making sure your ears, shoulders and hips are lined up. If there are gaps between your body and the bed, use pillows to take away undue pressure. When you turn, keep your core tight. Twisting and turning can wrench your back.
Try These Sleeping Positions
- A warm bath
Walts Feet Are Not On The Mattress
Now look carefully: Walts feet are like hanging out of the mattress. I have no proof, but I believe this is what makes the difference.I tried this after spending some time on a massage table you know, with your feet hanging out of the table?
Its much more confortable because with the feet like this, Walt feels more pressure on his knees and thats ok, because his knees are fine and the mattress makes it ok.
More pressure on the knees meansless pressure on the back.
Less pressure on the back means back pain relief and better sleep.
Its just mechanics.
Recommended Reading: What Is The Best Treatment For Back Pain
Should I Sleep On The Floor For Lower Back Pain
Some people say it helps their back pain, while others simply find it more comfortable. The popularity of minimalist living has also inspired people to get rid of their beds and sleep on the floor. To date, there aren’t any researched benefits of sleeping on the floor.
For some people, sleeping on their back may be the best position to relieve back pain: Lay flat on your back. Place a pillow underneath your knees and keep your spine neutral. The pillow is important it works to keep that curve in your lower back.
Loss Of Bladder Control
If you also experience bowel or urinary incontinence, in which you lose control of your bladder and bowels, you should seek medical attention at the emergency room as soon as possible for treatment.
These symptoms characterize Cauda equine syndrome. Serious compression of the nerve sac in the lower back creates this syndrome.
Recommended Reading: What Would Cause Lower Back Pain On The Left Side
Best Way To Sleep With Herniated Disc & Lower Back Pain: Bottom Line
14 years ago, I was diagnosed with herniated discs and degenerative discs disease: trust me, I know what severe back pain means.If you cant sleep at night because of the constant pain in your back, try this setup.
You dont need to buy expensive stuff: maybe you can achieve the same results with your regular mattress and some cheap garden beds mattresses to test it out.
Also, dont test it for the whole night the first time: just try lying in bed an hour or two, and feel if it makes a difference before you spend the entire night.
Finally: remember you will be modifying the so-called natural curve of the spine, so make sure you have the right pillow. Do not create a second problem while trying to fix the first one.
If it doesnt work, its just too bad: do not insist, do not try to fight the pain.
But if it does work, come back to this page, share it, and let us know..alignright
The Worst Sleep Position: On Your Stomach
Sleeping on your stomach is the worst position for your spine, according to Raymond J. Hah, MD, a spine surgeon at Keck Medicine of USC and assistant professor of clinical orthopaedic surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. This position puts the most pressure on your spines muscles and joints because it flattens the natural curve of your spine, he says. Sleeping on your stomach also forces you to turn your neck, which can cause neck and upper back pain.
Research shows that theres a correlation between pain and sleep, so it makes sense to incorporate simple changes in your sleep style that alleviate back pain and less pain means better sleep.
Don’t Miss: What To Do With Lower Back Pain At Home
When Should You See A Doctor About Lower Back Pain
Back pain is common and often recedes quickly, but its important to talk with a doctor if:
- The pain began with a specific injury
- Pain continues or worsens for more than a few days
- Pain is debilitating
- Pain radiates to the legs or other parts of the body
- You experience weakness or numbness in your lower body
- There are signs of infection like redness, warmth, swelling, or fever
- You have a personal history of cancer
- You have other unexplained health changes like weight loss or urinary problems
A doctor can review your symptoms and determine the appropriate next steps for testing, diagnosis, and treatment.
- Was this article helpful?
Chronic Lower Back Pain
Chronic Lower Back Pain: This long-term type of lower back pain tends to persist for over 12 weeks. Around 20% of acute lower back pain cases develop into chronic pain.
Despite the prevalence of lower back pain, its exact cause is unknown. Experts suggest that more than one event causes existing lower back pain. Heavy lifting and arthritis are some causes linked to chronic back pain.
Recommended Reading: How To Relieve Intense Lower Back Pain
On The Front With The Face Down
Sleeping on the front is generally unhealthy when a person turns their head to the side, twisting the spine and placing additional stress on the neck, shoulders, and back.
To avoid this, try lying face down. To do so comfortably:
What Are Good Exercises For Lower Back Pain
Situps and leg lifts, which can put a lot of pressure on the lower back and may cause unnecessary straining if you lack adequate core strength. Excessive bending like toe touches, which can place undue strain on the back. Exercises that require forward flexion for long periods of time, such as cycling.
Recommended Reading: What Causes Sharp Back Pain In The Lower Back
Where To Start
It is no secret that exercise, food, and rest each have a balance that is required for general health. Creating an environment in which you can relax is imperative for minimizing tension. So, how can you do this if your body is in pain?
If a back injury has been sustained, the first step is to ensure that the source of the pain has been eliminated or is under review. If you are aware of an injury, it is best to ensure that proper care is received for the best chance of a timely and effective recovery.
If you are uncertain what may have caused the pain, speak with a medical professional to determine what may be needed for recovery.
What Can I Do
Do you deal with lower back pain? Youre not alone.
The Global Burden of Disease study named lower back pain the leading cause of disability across the globe.
Whats even more interesting is that most back pain isnt caused by serious medical conditions, like cancer or arthritis. Instead, its often brought on by stress or strain from bad posture, awkward sleeping positions, and other lifestyle habits.
Here are the best sleeping positions to try if you have lower back pain, as well as some other things you can do to get a better nights rest.
If lying flat on your back feels uncomfortable, try shifting over to your side:
Whether you use one pillow or opt for two, you should resist the urge to always sleep on the same side. Doing so many cause issues like muscle imbalance and even scoliosis.
How does this position help? Sleeping on your side alone wont make you feel better. Its using the pillow between your knees thats the trick. The pillow will keep your hips, pelvis, and spine in better alignment.
If you have a herniated disc, you may want to try sleeping on your side curled in a fetal position: