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How To Sleep When You Have Lower Back Pain

Roll Over The Right Way

Best Sleeping Positions If You Have Lower Back Pain

It happens: Youve got yourself perfectly positioned and have just drifted off only to be awoken by a jolt of sharp pain in your back when you roll over. Changing positions quickly or with bad form can cause or exacerbate nighttime back pain, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center. They advise: When turning in bed, remember not to twist or bend at the waist but to move your entire body as one unit. Keep your belly pulled in and tightened, and bend your knees toward the chest when you roll.

What Are The Best Sleeping Positions For Sciatica Lower Back Pain

According to Bob and Brad, any sleeping position on your back, side or stomach is okay for your low back as long as you feel good. Some people recommend against sleeping on your stomach, but B& B dont take issue with it unless theres severe swayback.

That said, some slight modifications to your sleep position can make a big difference in your quality of sleep. As mentioned before, if you want to learn how to sleep with sciatica or lower back pain, youll need to learn how to keep your spine in the neutral spine position.

So in the section below, Ill share a bunch of tips on how to keep neutral spine alignment in bed, by sleep position.

Sleeping On The Front With Pillow Under The Stomach

Lying on the front of the body is usually considered the worst sleeping posture. However, for those who struggle to sleep in another position, placing a slim pillow underneath the stomach and hips can help improve spinal alignment.

Sleeping on the front may also benefit people with a herniated disc or a degenerative disc disease.

To adopt this sleeping position, a person should:

  • Get into bed and roll on to their front.
  • Place a slim pillow underneath the abdomen and hips to raise the mid-p.
  • Use a flat pillow for the head or consider sleeping without one.
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    Go To Bed When Youre Sleepy

    If youre not truly tired, chances are youll toss and turn, which makes you more uncomfortable and puts you into a cycle of stress. Allow yourself to become tired before hitting the sack. If youre not sleepy because you didnt exert yourself enough during the day, however, now isnt the time to get your heart rate up. If you have a pattern of not being sleepy at night, try doing some low-impact exercises during the day exercises that wont hurt your back.

    Change Up Your Sleep Position Or Mattress

    Pin on Methods of Sleeping while you have a Back Pain

    Switching to a more supportive sleep position can reduce lower back pain. Also consider how you can use pillows or invest in a new mattress to support better spinal alignment and relieve lower back pain.

    Research suggests medium firm mattresses are the best mattresses for back pain. In one study of people with low back pain, those who slept on medium firm mattresses reported lower pain scores both during sleep and upon getting up in the morning.

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    Sleeping On The Back:

    Sleeping on your back is the best sleeping posture because it helps distribute weight evenly across the body, keeps the alignment of your internal organs in check, and reduces the amount of pressure points that you might experience from side sleeping. Tip: use a thinner pillow to make sure your head doesnt protrude forward which can contribute to forward neck posture.

    Alternative Treatments For Back Pain Relief

    No two people experience back pain and sleep problems in the exact same way, so its worth exploring a variety of techniques until you figure out what works best for you. You dont have to only treat your back pain before you sleep either.

    Other ways to relieve lower back pain include:

    • Using a heating pad or electric blanket
    • Massaging area with ointment that includes cayenne pepper, which reduces pain
    • Practicing progressive muscle relaxation to help with physical and mental tension
    • Acupuncture sessions, which has been shown to decrease pain after 12 months

    A doctor or other healthcare professional can also make personalized recommendations for sleeping better with lower back pain, and prescribe medication as needed.

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    What Can I Do To Relieve Lower Back Pain In The Morning When I Wake Up

    It can be a little tough on your back to start moving again after seven or so hours of sleep. In general, doctors say stretching your hamstrings can help loosen things up. They tend to tighten up when we have back issuesits a protective mechanism, Dr. Womack says. Stretching the area will help take the pressure off your back, he adds.

    Wall slideswhere you stand with your back up against a wall, and slowly raise your arms up and down on the wallcan also help get you in alignment in the morning, Dr. Anand says.

    If you have a condition like spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spaces in your spine that can put pressure on your spinal cord and the nerves in your spine, touching your toes will feel great on your back, Dr. Anand says. Just keep this in mind, per Dr. Anand: If you feel pain when youre stretching, stop.

    The bottom line: If you struggle with lower back pain, focus on keeping your spine straight and your knees, hips and neck in alignment.

    Best Sleeping Position For Lower Back Pain

    Try These Sleeping Positions And Alignment Tips If You Have Lower Back Pain

    Lower back pain afflicts most adults in industrialized countries at some point in their lives. It has been estimated that, in the United States alone, nearly 150 million work days per year are lost due to back pain.1

    Anyone that has experienced lower back pain might not be surprised by these numbers. However, there is hope: the way you position your body at night can decrease your lower back pain. That is why it is important to learn the best sleeping position for lower back pain.

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    Get Out Of Bed Gently

    Theres an art to getting out of bed that can help you avoid aggravating back pain. And keeping that pain at bay in the morning could lead to better sleep come bedtime.

    Kirsch says: Be very careful when you are changing position do not twist or turn. Move your body together and keep your core tight. Roll on to your side and swing your legs over the side of the bed to sit up slowly and reduce the strain on your back.

    Still feeling stiff? Your nighttime stretch routine can work for lower back pain in the a.m., as well.

    Pain Management For Scoliosis

    Certain therapies can aid in managing scoliosis pain, though they wont help to correct the curvature itself.

    Some techniques need more research but may be recommended by your doctor, such as hydrotherapy, massage, electrical stimulation, and back braces.

    These methods are most likely to aid in reducing pain and discomfort:

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    Take Slow Deep Breaths To Get To Sleep And Fall Back Asleep

    Slow, rhythmic breathing has calming mind-body effects and may help alleviate pain and stress, promoting sleep. Research indicates that taking slow and deep breaths before bedtime can help you get to sleep faster and fall back asleep in case you wake up during the night.10

    This type of breathing technique also helps synchronize your heart rate and breathing pattern, which may help promote deeper, restorative sleep.10

    Sleep On The Front With Your Head Down

    How should i sleep with lower back pain

    If you sleep on the front with your head facing one side, you may twist your spine and put unnecessary stress on your back, neck, and shoulders. You can prevent this by simply lying with your face down. It’s also a good idea to use a small pillow under your stomach and another one to lift up your forehead.

    If you’re unsure of which position is right for you, try several of them. Eventually, you’ll find one that brings you the most comfort and pain relief.

    All information provided on this website is for information purposes only. Please see a healthcare professional for medical advice. If you are seeking this information in an emergency situation, please call 911 and seek emergency help.

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    Get The Right Pillow Under Your Head

    Sleeping on the wrong pillow is a common culprit of nighttime back pain, Tatta says. Make sure your pillow has enough support and allows your neck and spine to be in neutral alignment, which means that your head isnt craning backward nor is your chin pushed too far forward, he explains. Many arthritis patients find the most comfort in a thin, firm pillow. Ditch the giant, fluffy decorative pillows on your bed when it comes time to sleep.

    How Can You Tell If Your Mattress Needs To Be Replaced How Often Should You Replace Your Mattress

    You should look into getting a new mattressif it is noticeably sagging, lumpy, lopsided or creaking .

    Or it could be too old or worn out from usage. According to Consumer Reports and WebMD, if you keep your mattress in good condition, it can last about 10 years.

    Some sites also recommend getting a new mattress if you wake up achy or tired, struggle to fall asleep, and/or get better sleep elsewhere. But if you are experiencing those issues, you might not need to invest in a new mattress just yet. You can do some simple, cheap tests to check if your mattress needs replacing. And you can even modify your sleep position.

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    The Basics Of Back Pain

    From temporary, acute pain to debilitating chronic conditions, the term back pain can be quite broad. It can be attributed to many different causes and can vary in intensity, but the scope and effect of back pain can be quite significant when it strikes. Before we get into the specifics of sleep and pain, heres a look at where back pain comes from and how it can affect life for those who have it.

    What Is The Neutral Spine Position

    How-Should you sleep if you have lower Back Pain II lower Back Pain

    Basically, the neutral spine position aka neutral spine alignment is the shape your spine takes when you are standing upright, face forwards, and your pelvis is not tilting too far forwards or too far backwards. It results in 3 natural curves to your spine, as shown in the picture below.

    When you are lying down in bed, you want your spine to keep this same shape.

    Oftentimes, a bad mattress can get your spine out of neutral spine alignment. If a mattress is saggy or too soft, it causes your body to sink into the mattress. Your low back can end up rounding-out. Heres what rounding-out looks like when someone is standing up:

    Rounding-out is harmful because discs between the vertebrae in your spine can protrude and touch the sciatic nerve. To help give you a better idea of how that looks, here are some anatomy props, courtesy of Bob and Brad.

    The white parts represent the vertebrae bones in your spine, the green rubbery material is the spinal disc, and the red/orange elastic band is the sciatic nerve.

    As you can see in the photo above, when the spine bends, the discs are pushed outwards. A disc which is damaged because it is herniated or bulging can move out of place more easily and touch the sciatic nerve. That triggers sciatica, which can manifest itself as a dull ache in the buttocks or even a shooting pain down your leg.

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    What To Look For In A Mattress

    Your mattress matters too.

    Doctors used to recommend very firm orthopedic mattresses to people with lower back pain. But dont go out and buy one just yet. Recent surveys have shown that people who use extremely firm mattresses may have the poorest sleep.

    That said, a mattress thats too soft wont help very much with alignment.

    If you have the funds to buy something new, try choosing a firm or medium-firm mattress made with good-quality innersprings or foam. You may also improve the innerspring mattress you already own by adding a memory foam mattress topper.

    It may be difficult to tell if that mattress at the store really feels comfortable after only a few minutes of testing. Some companies let you test out a mattress over a set period of time and then return it if its not for you.

    Not in the market right now? You can see if a firmer mattress would help you by placing an inexpensive plywood board under your current mattress. You can even place your mattress on the floor to see if lessening the movement of the springs helps with your pain.

    Sleeping With Lower Back Pain

    Lower back pain is a common condition, affecting up to 80% of individuals during their lifetime. Lower back pain can negatively affect your sleep leading to . This is of concern because poor sleep can result in a variety of physiological and psychological effects that can become severe over time and lead to serious health problems including depression, Type II diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease. If youre suffering with lower back pain, chances are youre having difficulty sleeping and are looking for some tips to improve your sleep.

    In this article, well outline some of thebest sleeping positions for lower back painand discuss some other tips to improve your sleep.

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    What Should I Look For In A Pillow For Lower Back Pain

    In general, you want to opt for a pillow thats not too high or puffy, Dr. Womack says. You dont want anything that will prop your head up too much to where your neck is really bent, he says. Instead, he recommends trying to find a pillow that will help line up your head with your shoulders.

    A pillow should be firm enough to support the weight of your body, but soft enough to be comfortable,” suggests Dr. Slabaugh, like one of these expert-recommended best pillows for back pain.

    When To See A Healthcare Provider

    How To Sleep With Lower Back Pain

    Everybody handles pain differently. Still, it’s a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider right away if your pain:

    • Began with a specific injury
    • Wakes you up at night
    • Keeps you from sleeping
    • Travels to other parts of the body, like your legs
    • Comes with signs of infection such as redness, warmth, swelling, or fever
    • Comes with weakness, numbness, or tingling in your lower body

    You may want to start by checking with your primary healthcare provider. They will be able to treat or refer you to a specialist if needed.

    For example, if your healthcare provider thinks your pain may be caused by an inflammatory condition, you may need to see a rheumatologist. A rheumatologist specializes in arthritis and diseases that involve the bones, muscles, and joints.

    You may find it helpful to know how pain is categorized:

    • Acute pain is short-term–a few days or weeks. It often happens after an injury or specific event.
    • Chronic pain is longer-term. It may last for several months or more. In many cases, it isn’t from an injury.

    It’s a good idea to seek immediate medical care if you have low back pain and a personal history of cancer. Your pain may need urgent treatment if you also have unexplained weight loss or sudden bladder control issues.

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    Make This Sleeping Position Yours

    If you feel this sleeping position is helping for sciatica pain or herbiated disc pain, but things could get better, or if your mattress is too soft but you dont want to change it, dont hesitate & try out some variations

    You could try adding one more pillow for knee support or stomach support if you have to.Its not an exact science: the point is that you find the exact best position to sleep if you suffer from back pain, sciatica, herniated disc or DDD.

    Sleeping On The Side With A Pillow Between The Knees

    Although lying on the side is a popular and comfortable sleeping position, it can pull the spine out of position. This can strain the lower back.

    Correcting this is easy. Anyone who sleeps on their side can simply place a firm pillow between their knees. This raises the upper leg, which restores the natural alignment of the hips, pelvis, and spine.

    To adopt this sleeping position, a person should:

  • Get into bed and carefully roll on to one side.
  • Position a pillow to support the head and neck.
  • Pull the knees up slightly then place a pillow between them.
  • For extra support, fill in any gaps between the body and mattress with more pillows, especially at the waist.
  • People who habitually turn to sleep on their front may also want to try hugging a large pillow against their chest and stomach to aid sleep and keep their back aligned.

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    Why Is Sciatica Pain Worse At Night Or In The Morning

    This is a great question. And from my research, I believe there are two factors at play that cause sciatica pain to be worse at night/ in the morning.

    First, as mentioned previously, your spine isnt able to stay in the neutral spine position while youre in bed. Over time, this can cause the discs between the vertebrae in your spine to become herniated or bulging. And once damaged, the discs can squeeze out of place and push against your sciatic nerve.

    Second, the spinal discs actually absorb water when you sleep, which causes them to swell and stiffen your entire spine. Prof. Bob McGill who studies the mechanics of the back cited this study in his book Low Back Disorders: Evidence-based Prevention and Rehabilitation.

    Bending or twisting your back in the morning can make swollen discs more susceptible to getting squeezed out of place. Or if a disc was already out of place because of how you slept in bed, it is possibly pushing even harder against the sciatic nerve because its swollen.

    Typically, after an hour of being awake, the discs lose some water and reduce in size.

    Amateur Tip: If you like to workout in the morning, I would suggest doing some simple tasks around the house first and then warm up with some dynamic stretching. In fact, just last week, I got over-confident and made the mistake of trying to stretch and workout first thing in the morning. I felt a twinge in my low back later that day.


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