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Why Does My Lower Back Hurt When I Sleep

Can A New Mattress Cause Back Pain

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Yes, a new mattress can cause back pain temporarily. Thats because theres a transition period when you go from an old unsupportive mattress to a new supportive mattress. New mattresses also have a break-in period. Components can be stiff at the start but will soften up and conform to your body over time.

Blame Your Expensive Mattress

Like pillows, your mattress needs to provide support that conforms to your body. The right mattress will help you maintain proper sleep posture all night.

Beware of the squishy pillow top mattresses!

Pillow top mattresses have become quite popular in recent years. Theyre not necessarily better than non-pillow top types. Laying on a very soft compressible surface all night long can cause back pain for some, particularly stomach sleepers. These mattresses can allow your body to bend too far downward at the heaviest part, your waist. This can be a result of the pillow tops filling:

  • simply being too soft or
  • sagging and/or compressing over time from repeated use.

Maybe your mattress is just too firm?

If your mattress is too firm, it wont compress sufficiently to allow your body to sink downwards in the appropriate locations.

If youre convinced that a new mattress is the key to eliminating your back pain, shop with caution.

The large mattress manufacturers are frequently criticized for their marketing practices. They often distribute the same mattress under different names to each retailer intentionally making it difficult for consumers to comparison shop.

Main Causes Of Morning Back Pain

Why is back pain worst first thing in the morning, and what can you do about it?

I woke up with it is an amazingly common description of how low back pain started.

Why? Is sleeping dangerous? Probably not: waking up with back pain rarely indicates a serious problem. But both mornings and backs are unusually vulnerable to some common minor sources of pain.

This is mostly about chronic back pain thats at its worst in the morning, a common symptom pattern. People who are more or less pain-free during the day may still suffer for a while every day after waking up. But attacks of acute back pain are also much more common in the first few hours of the day see Steffens et al.2 and that phenomenon may be related to why chronic back pain tends to be bad in the morning.

Morning back pain is a tough problem to treat because most of it probably has several subtle chronic causes, but there may be some opportunities for treatment.

Is pain & stiffness your alarm clock? Do you bail out of bed early every morning with low back pain, neck pain & more?

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How To Exercise To Relieve Back Pain

In the morning and evening, it is beneficial to warm up and warm down. To achieve this:

  • Some gentle stretching will help in general, but particularly for pain in the lower back.
  • For the neck and lower back, gentle stretching in all vectors of movement will help, ensuring you engage the core muscles at all times to strengthen them and stretch the other muscles.
  • Tight hamstrings can place stress on your lower back. To stretch your hamstrings, place one leg up on the bed and gently stretch forward until you feel the tension down the back of the leg. This will help, particularly if you have been sat down all day as the hamstrings will have been contracted and shortened for that whole period, they deserve a stretch!

Any exercise that strengthens your core will help prevent back pain in the future, so consider hitting the gym or park more often, or taking up a yoga class or similar.

Invest In The Right Mattress To Help Your Back Pain

Morning Back Pain After Sleeping

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Wrong Type Of Mattress

If you find your back aching every time you wake up in the middle of the night, your mattress might be the culprit. Does it have a deep depression in the shape of your body? Or does it feel like a bed of bricks? A mattress that is too soft as well as one that is too firm can prove problematic.

Your long hours of sitting or standing or other activities like lifting or driving through the day affects the spine. When you sleep on a soft mattress, the lack of support to your spine leaves the body at an unnatural angle and prevents the tense muscles from relaxing, which increases the pain.

On the other hand, sleeping on a firm mattress does help your spinal cord assume the right posture at rest. Research has found that a firm mattress reduces pain among patients with chronic non-specific lower back pain . However, if the mattress is too hard or uneven, it could result in back pain through the night.1

Getting Out Of Bed Improperly

How a person gets out of bed can be vital to preventing early morning aches and pains. Even if a person is well-rested, rising too quickly or bending too far forward when getting out of bed can place a strain on the back.

To reduce the risk of morning back pain and stiffness, a person should follow these steps:

  • Begin by moving slowly to the edge of the bed.
  • Using the arms for leverage, transfer to a sitting position with the legs dangling off the side of the bed.
  • After taking a few seconds to adjust to this position, slowly place the feet on the floor and stand up.

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How Do You Treat Inflammaging Lifestyle Medicine

No one really knows, but its probably all about just being as fit and healthy as possible, and reducing biological vulnerabilities . Systemic inflammation is almost synonymous with being out of shape and all the bad habits that tend to go with it so these very general approaches to health can be considered inflammation treatments specifically. But they are also a sensible everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to treating any health problem we dont understand .

Their superpower is that its hard to actually waste your time doing this stuff. Its all good for you, whether it helps morning back pain or not.

What about more specific inflammation treatments? There are many. Obviously there are OTC anti-inflammatory drugs. They arent a long-term solution those drugs are too hard on the GI tract for anything but taking the edge off now and then. But they might do that, and if they do its also good diagnostic evidence that the issue is caused by inflammation. Inflammation can also be nuked by some more potent drug therapies, but those cures are definitely worse than the disease of morning back pain.

I have an article specifically about inflammation that goes into more detail about managing inflammation:

Get Exercise Throughout The Day

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Regular exercise throughout the day is key to alleviating back pain. Walking is among the best exercises, and you should aim for at least 10,000 steps per day. However, anything that gets you moving and on your feet can help keep your back strong.

Also, if you have an office job that involves sitting, its important to take frequent breaks. Stand up at least once every 30 minutes and stretch. Standing desks can also help keep the pressure off your back during the day at work so you wont suffer the consequences the next morning.

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Sleep Tips For Back Pain Relief

Your mattress isnt the only factor in relieving back pain while you sleep. How you sleep matters, too. Your sleeping position, sleep quality, and more can make a difference in back pain when you wake up. Consider these tips for improving the way you sleep:

Call any of our offices located in , , or today to find out if chiropractic adjustments can help you wake up pain-free!


Be Careful Getting In And Out Of Bed

Many back injuries are attributed to making awkward movements when doing routine things. One of the easier ways to prevent new injuries or exacerbating old ones is to be conscious of your movements. Here are a few pointers from WebMD experts on protecting your back when getting in and out of bed:

  • Dont twist your back or make rapid jerking motions.
  • Get in bed by sitting on the edge of the mattress. Supporting yourself with your hands, bend your knees, and lay on your side. Then adjust your position as needed.
  • Get out of bed by rolling on your side and bend in your knees. Supporting yourself with your hands, carefully swing your legs to the floor and stand up straight. Get up from the seated position.

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How To Sleep With Lower Back Pain

The lower back features an interwoven series of structures. It includes the five vertebrae of the lumbar spine, each of which is bolstered by shock-absorbing discs and held in place by ligaments. Surrounding muscles offer support and are connected to the spine by tendons. Nerves run through the spinal column to deliver signals throughout the body.

The lower back supports most of the bodys weight and is integral to all kinds of movements. Whether standing, sitting, walking, or lying down, the lower back plays a role in mobility and comfort.

Given the complexity of the lower back and how much we depend on it, it comes as no surprise that it is a leading hotspot for pain. Eight out of 10 people have back pain at some point during their life, and lower back pain is one of the top reasons why people see a doctor.

Back pain can range from mild to severe, and it may be short-lived or long-lasting. When serious, it can be debilitating and interfere with nearly all aspects of daily life, including sleep.

Pain and sleep have a complex relationship. Pain can disrupt sleep, and poor sleep can make it more likely that a person will experience pain. In addition, a sleeping position or mattress that doesnt support the lumbar spine can induce or exacerbate lower back pain.

Should You Get An Adjustment

Why do I get extreme lower back pain when laying on my side?

It is a very wise idea to get a wellness adjustment from your chiropractor before you go mattress shopping. This can help relieve pain and help you have better posture and body support while you sleep. Ask your chiropractor for advice on sleeping positions, as well as recommendations for mattresses. Not only is your chiropractor a back expert, but he has probably heard a lot of recommendations from his patients who suffered from mattress-induced back pain.

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What About Nocturnal Intervertebral Disc Swelling

This is one of the classic theories about why people seem to be more vulnerable to back pain in the morning.

Between every pair of vertebrae is a bit of padding, the infamous disc. They probably swell up a wee bit overnight. There are two studies that suggest this2930 . A 2016 paper speculates that disc swelling is why astronauts probably suffer from more disc herniations than they should.31 Weightlessness is undoubtedly like resting your spine, but its another long-term effect, so Im not sure how relevant the astronaut angle is its just a fun angle on the topic.

I saved this idea for last because its too speculative to be really satisfying.

Discs may swell, but that doesnt mean swelling discs hurt. Mild swelling is hardly a concern in itself, and most people dont wake up in pain, so its unlikely that swelling alone is a problem. Swollen discs may hurt more in the morning if theres already something wrong with them, such as annular tears,32 but such discs might well be uncomfortable regardless. Mildly herniated discs might swell and effectively be more herniated in the morning but many herniations are painless, so thats hardly a smoking gun.

What Causes Back Pain

The main cause of back pain in bed is poor posture, either from how a person sits at work or how they sleep at night.

Between the vertebrae in the spine are intervertebral discs, which rehydrate at night . Poor posture can prevent the discs from rehydrating.

Read more: The NHS Guide To Back Pain

Attached to the vertebra are smaller muscle groups such as the erector spinae, and large muscles such as the trapezius. Poor posture can put the muscles into awkward positions that can cause irritation over a prolonged period of time, resulting in aches or pains. Lower and middle back pain tend to be the common culprits when sleeping. While there are several causes of back pain, a small number of which can be more serious underlying health issues. NHS Live Well gives us a list of common indicators of poor posture:

  • Slouching in a chair
  • Sticking your bottom out when standing
  • Standing with a flat back
  • Leaning on one leg
  • Hunched back and text neck when focusing too much on your phone
  • Poking your chin out when at a computer
  • Rounded shoulders
  • Cradling your phone in between your head and shoulder

These points are developed with images and solutions on this helpful NHS web page.

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Do You Have Neck Or Back Pain Your Sleep Style May Be Contributing

If youve ever woken up with a tingling arm or achy neck, youve experienced the negative effects of sleeping in the wrong position.

The key is alignment: When you sleep with your spine in a neutral position, it reduces the strain on your back and neck. It also helps to sleep on a firm surface.

So which sleep positions should you embrace and which should you avoid? Heres a rundown, from best to worst.

What Sleep Position Is Best For Spine Health

Sleep Position | ? | Best Sleep Position

The National Sleep Foundation has ranked sleep positions based on whats best for your overall health and wellness. This ranking takes into account both your orthopedic fitness and your general health .

Their ranking is consistent with what orthopedists recommend. When youre sleeping, you should strive to keep your spine as neutral as possible including your head position. Your legs should be elongated if possible, but not overly straight. Keep a natural bend in the knee.

A neutral spine keeps your muscles long and loose, not flexed, which reduces the risk of soreness or tightness anywhere in the body. For example, by keeping your legs straight, not bent at ninety degree angles, you eliminate the risk of your knee ligaments becoming tight and stiff in a bent position.

Neutral spine posture is also symmetrical, which keeps your body in balance the muscles on one side of your body wont be working harder than the other.

Keeping this in mind, the best sleep positions for back and neck health are, in order:

If youre experiencing back or neck pain, take a look at your mattress and pillows too. And old mattress with weakening inner springs may not be supporting your spine enough, or some of the springs may be pressing into pressure points, triggering pain. You may need a firmer mattress or a softer one. Or your pillow may be to blame it could be too flat or too high.

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The Scariest Type Of Morning Back Pain: Inflammatory Back Pain

The closest thing to back pain that is truly prominent in the morning is inflammatory back pain , or spondyloarthritis.3 Although IBP is well known to medical science, it often eludes diagnosis, its biology is mysterious, and morning symptoms specifically are a stumper, as unexplained as joints that ache before a storm. Its just something IBP does.

But dont panic! Although studies have confirmed that morning is a common time for inflammatory back pain to flare up, they have also shown that the connection is not strong or exclusive.4 In fact, most morning stiffness and pain is not pathologically inflammatory. Its just that IBP is the only official morning back pain culprit.

The pain of IBP tends to be quite severe. If its not actually waking you up, its probably not IBP, or its a minor case.

When should you consider the possibility of IBP? Basically if your morning back is particularly bad: nasty and very consistent morning symptoms. The diagnosis is also more likely if you have other signs of this kind of back pain. Heres a good inflammatory back pain quiz, and heres my own quick checklist of reasons to ask your doctor about spondyloarthritis:5

Poor Posture Through The Day

Do you slouch while working at your desk? Slouching results in a tilt of your pelvis, which has a direct impact on the curvature of your spine. When you repeat poor posture daily, your bodys structure slowly changes and adapts to it, leading to misalignment and pain. If your pelvis is in a neutral position, it is easy for your spine to hold itself upright. Proper sitting posture relieves the back of any pain.3 Try these postural changes to alleviate back pain and avoid it in the future:4

  • Sit on a chair with a firm back and move it close to the desk to maintain contact between the chair back and your back. This will also relieve pressure on your back and shoulders and maintain the natural, inward curve of the spine.
  • Ensure that the upper back is straight, shoulders are relaxed, and your knees are slightly higher than your hips.
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor.
  • Avoid sitting for a long time at a stretch. Stand up and move around every one hour to stretch tight muscles and give them a chance to relax.

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