How Sleep Can Contribute To Back Problems
There are many factors that can cause lower back pain. However, it is possible to be affected by how you are sleeping. Your tolerance for pain will be lower if you arent getting enough sleep, and research has shown that sleep loss can increase sensitivity to painful stimuli. Insomnia can increase painful inflammation, and getting enough sleep may help reduce inflammation.
Your response to pain medication when your sleep is interrupted can also contribute to back pain. A study of healthy, normal adults showed that codeines analgesic effect is less in those who are sleep-deprived than those who are not. Your pain medication may even work better if you sleep better.
Reasons You’re Waking Up With Back Pain
Lower back pain can be difficult to manage whether you have an active job or find yourself sitting at a desk all day, it can be uncomfortable and even debilitating if you cant perform certain actions without trouble. If your lower back pain is bad in the morning but eases throughout the day, it could be your kidneys suffering not your muscles.
Many people are unaware of where their kidneys are. The kidneys sit either side of your spine, just below your ribs. Often, those suffering with kidney pain will put it down to a sore back, when really they should be taking care of their kidneys and making sure they are well hydrated.
Unhappy kidneys can cause a lot of pain. If you dont make sure to stay hydrated then your kidneys will suffer, as their main role is to filter the blood and excrete waste products through urine. Without sufficient water, waste products wont be eliminated as effectively and various healthy issues can arise, such as recurrent urinary tract infections.
Morning Baths Are Almost Miraculous For Some Kinds Of Morning Back Pain
A hot bath is one of the oldest medicines. While most people appreciate a nice hot bath, few people think of it as a serious treatment for back pain just something that takes the edge off. Maybe.
But for morning back pain, it can be incredibly effective. Reader C.B. writes:
I am 73 with assorted age-related issues, but this low back pain every morning is new. Here is what I do: I run a hot bath, and jump in and immediately the pain goes away, all of it. Why would that be, and what does it mean?
C. is not alone: many people report near rapid, profound relief from morning back pain. Baths seem to be at their best in this context, and its not clear why. When a bath has an immediate, profound effect on pain, its probably because immersion/flotation is a fairly potent dose of novel sensory input, which can very persuasively tell the brain that theres no need for the alarm of pain. This may be more pronounced with some kinds of pain that are aggravated by gravity, so the partial flotation might be directly relieving.
And then, by the time you get out of the bath, the relatively transient phenomenon of morning back pain is already retreating and perhaps even faster because of some thermal effects .
P.S. Showers may be just as good! Or nearly as good. It would be nice if I could cite a nice, well-controlled trial of this, but thats probably never going to happen.
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The Dangers Of The Cycle Of Morning Back Problems
As you go to bed, the following extensive chain of events occurs:
What once was believed to be appreciated as a restful period, actually becomes an ordeal of severe discomfort.
Should You Worry About A New Mattress Causing Back Pain
Getting a new mattress is exciting. You anticipate sliding between the sheets and sleeping blissfully on your brand new bed. But then you struggle to get comfortable at night and you wake with morning pain or stiffness. What gives?
Your body needs time to adjust to a new mattress. Many of us adopt poor posture over the years, and a bad or old mattress can compound the problem. Its normal to feel some initial discomfort or soreness as your body adjusts.
Sleep on your new mattress for at least a month. If your pain doesnt improve, and especially if it worsens, your new mattress may not be the right fit for you.
Want to try out your new mattress without the hassle? Casper mattresses come with a 100-night risk-free sleep trial and an easy return process for more snoozing and less stressing.
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Best Mattress Firmness For Back Pain
For many people, a medium-firm mattress is the best choice for reducing back pain.
One small study tracked the sleep quality of adults with lower back pain. After tracking the participants sleep quality for 21 days on their own mattresses, they were given medium-firm mattresses with foam and latex layers. After 12 weeks, the participants had progressively less back pain and stiffness.
Your mattress firmness may not be right for you if lying on it causes your spine to become misaligned. Look at it this way:
- Your mattress is too soft if your hips sink lower than your shoulders.
- Your mattress is too firm if your hips and shoulders lie flat on the surface.
- Your mattress is just right if your mattress contours to your body shape and keeps your spine aligned.
Looking for a mattress thats just right? We have thoughtfully designed mattresses at every price point, so you can say sayonara to nighttime back pain without breaking the bank.
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Get Exercise Throughout The Day
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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Books That I Use Religiously
Pete Egoscue Pain Free:
A few of the exercises demonstrated here are ones that I learned from the Egoscue method one of the only things that has worked for me.
Consistently, after having spoken with chiropractors and doctors, who gave me zero useful advice about self-treating back pain, this book has come through.
You can read more about the book Pain Free on Amazon here.
Esther Gokhale 8 Steps to a Pain Free Back
Petes book is less about how to walk and move on a day to day basis, and shows exercises you can do right now.
Esthers book is the opposite it shows you how to sit, stand, sleep, and move to stop and prevent back and neck pain. It was pretty enlightening to see her research based on third world country populations with minimal back pain.
Trigger Point Therapy Workbook
The trigger point therapy workbook is a book Ive used to learn where to self-massage using the Theracane and the trigger point therapy ball mentioned above.
Personally, Its a really useful book for learning the locations to self-massage, as well as learning where pain gets referred from other areas.
You Have Low Levels Of Potassium
On the other hand, while we tend to consume too much salt in our diets, we also tend to be lacking in potassium, a mineral which helps with fluid balance. Whats more, not only do the kidneys hold onto salt and water, they also release vital potassium when the balance between these minerals isnt quite right. Therefore, as well as reducing your salt intake, its equally as important to up your intake of potassium to avoid overwhelming your kidneys as they struggle to maintain equilibrium.
To help avoid back pain caused by troubled kidneys, you can make sure to incorporate lots of fresh fruit and vegetables into your diet. White and sweet potatoes are both great sources of potassium, as well as bananas, kiwi fruits and oranges.
Top tip:Balance Mineral Drink is a refreshing strawberry drink that contains a sensible dose of potassium, plus other minerals like vitamin D, magnesium and zinc. It can be added to water for a refreshing strawberry drink, or included in your favourite fruit smoothie. Keeping your potassium levels topped up will help to keep your kidneys ticking over, and avoid troubling back pain.
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Poor Quality Sleep And Insomnia Are Probably Major Causes Of Morning Back Pain
Dont get me wrong: some people sleep just fine and still have morning back pain. But poor quality sleep and pain tend definitely to go together, and mornings can be the roughest part of that link.
The more interesting question is the chicken/egg thing: which comes first? Pain or sleeplessness? Once you have both insomnia and pain, they surely cause each other, but one side of that equation is probably more important than the other, like a cyclist pushing much harder on one pedal than the other.
In 2017, Gerhart et al studied the which-came-first question of pain and insomnia in 105 chronic low back pain patients. Their subjects bravely filled out five detailed questionnaires per day for two weeks thats quite a lot of paperwork tracking and rating many aspects of their pain and sleep quality. The goal was to study lagged temporal associations: what tends to happen after what? Are bad sleeps often followed by bad days with back pain? Are rough days with back pain followed by lousy sleeps?
Yes and no to those two questions.
Poorer sleep was strongly linked to everything being worse which is about as surprising as a dog barking at a squirrel. Its the timing of that relationship that this study zoomed in on, and not only did a bad night clearly herald trouble across the board the next day more pain, more disability, more doom and gloom but especially during the early part of the day.
Back Pain In The Morning Might Be A Sign Of A Medical Condition
If youve sorted out the environmental factors that contribute to morning back aches, it might be a medical condition that causes those achy mornings. Youll need to seek a professional diagnosis for treatment options, but you may suffer from:
- Herniated Disc: The tissue that sits between and cushions vertebrae may break down and inflame surrounding tissue, a condition known as a herniated disc. Also known as a slipped or ruptured disc, a herniated discs pain is worse in the morning due to long stretches of inactivity when sleeping.
- Inflammatory Back Pain: Inflammation caused by an autoimmune disorder may cause spinal tissue to swell and inflame. Youll likely need treatment outside of orthopedic care to address this issue.
- Ankylosing Spondylitis: Swelling of the joints in the spine can cause pain and stiffness that often decreases throughout the day.
- Spinal Stenosis: The narrowing of the spinal canal can put pressure on nerves, and is often irritated when you sleep. While its more common in older adults, it can affect younger patients, particularly those who suffered a spinal injury.
Morning back pain might be subtle, but its important to take it seriously. If you wake up with back pain for an extended period of time or the back pain is increasing in severity, you should see a doctor before your morning stiffness worsens.
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When To See A Doctor
In many cases, a herniated disk can be a progressive condition. A person might experience back pain for some time. If the disk begins to slip out of place significantly, incontinence can occur.
As a result, the sudden onset of unexplained urinary incontinence can indicate that a person may need to seek immediate medical attention.
The following signs may also indicate that back pain and incontinence together could be a medical emergency:
- a fever higher than 103Â°F
- loss of ability to move the legs or sense the lower body
- tingling or numbness down both legs
In most instances, incontinence and back pain are a medical emergency when they suddenly occur together.
If a person experiences either symptom separately, they should talk to their doctor. Many treatment options are available for both incontinence and back pain.
Why Your Mattress Matters For Back Pain
If youre waking up with back pain, you may be sleeping on the wrong mattress. However, your bed is typically not the cause of back pain. In any case, a good mattress can help relieve issues that cause back pain.
A good mattress that is well suited to your needs will help to align your spine. This alignment can alleviate aches and pains. People who suffer from lower back pain should look for a mattress that doesnt put pressure on pain points, particularly the shoulders and sacrum. These beds are typically firm enough that your shoulders dont sink, but soft enough to feel comfortable. Look for a 5-7 rating on the mattress firmness scale .
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Some Of The Most Common Issues That Contribute To Morning Back Pain Include:
This list outlines some of the most common reasons why you might be experiencing back pain in the morning.
Whats New In This Article
Seventeen updates have been logged for this article since publication . All PainScience.com updates are logged to show a long term commitment to quality, accuracy, and currency. moreWhens the last time you read a blog post and found a list of many changes made to that page since publication? Like good footnotes, this sets PainScience.com apart from other health websites and blogs. Although footnotes are more useful, the update logs are important. They are fine print, but more meaningful than most of the comments that most Internet pages waste pixels on. I log any change to articles that might be of interest to a keen reader. Complete update logging of all noteworthy improvements to all articles started in 2016. Prior to that, I only logged major updates for the most popular and controversial articles.See the Whats New? page for updates to all recent site updates.
2020 New section, Poor quality sleep and insomnia are probably major causes of morning back pain. Also made some minor improvements to the introduction and article summary.
2020 Comprehensive editing. Re-wrote the summary. Refined advice on treating inflammation. Explained fibromyalgia more clearly and accurately. Added more about mattresses. Improved organization, in-document navigation, and added a few sprinkles of humour.
2018 Significant science update: cited Steffens on back pain risk factors, a fascinating study that adds some important data to this article.
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Tip #: The Right Way To Get Out Of Bed
Lastly, make sure you are getting out bed properly. Unfortunately, the majority of people will sit up, twist their back to prepare to get into a standing position, and use their back to stand. This method is incorrect.
The proper way to exit a bed upon waking is to roll onto your side and use your arm to push up from the side-lying position. From this position, scoot to the very edge of the bed and get up using your legs, not your back.
Sleeping shouldnt be painful. It should be a time to relax. Implementing these aforementioned suggestions is a great way to decrease pain while you sleep and increase your odds of having a great nights rest.