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Friday, April 06, 2018

How to Get Quality Sleep When Your Back Is Hurting You

Back pain, especially lower back pain, can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. You toss and turn every night just trying to find a position that would be comfortable enough, and eventually fall asleep because of exhaustion.

This doesn’t last long however, as lower back pain can result in microarousals, periods in which the body shifts into a lighter sleep stage and causes you to wake up.

Microarousals can occur several times an hour. Pain in the back therefore decreases the amount of sleep you get, and with sleep deprivation also comes a diminished quality of life during daytime hours.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, individuals who have chronic pain lose an average of 42 minutes of sleep each night. That’s 42 minutes your body could have used to recover and heal itself.

But how can you get comfortable when a major part of your body that you use for sleeping is paining you? Here are some tips from the experts.

Sleep on your side.
If you have back pain, sleeping on your back can become unbearable - so sleep on your side instead. It helps if your mattress provides just the right amount of comfort and support to relieve pressure on the parts that make contact with your body, such as the hips and shoulders. A medium-firm mattress is usually recommended for those with back pain. Of course, it’s best if you try out different mattresses first to see which kind feels the most comfortable for you.

When sleeping on your side, bend your knees slightly toward your chest and place a pillow between them to keep your hips level and promote better alignment in the spine, pelvis and hips. If there is a gap between the mattress and your waist, you can place a small pillow there for added support and keep your spine aligned.

If you sleep on your back, prop up your knees with a pillow.
If sleeping on your back is what feels natural for you, you can relieve back pain by placing a pillow under your knees. The pillow would help keep the curve in the lower back and remove pressure from it. You can also roll up a small towel and position it under the small of your back.

Include yoga stretches in your bedtime routine.
There are several yoga poses that can alleviate pain in the lower back. Yoga stretches coupled with deep breathing exercises also helps in reducing stress. Take care not to overexert yourself especially if you’re a beginner - use props like blocks or rolled-up blankets for added support and to allow you to hold poses safely and comfortably.

Strengthen your core.
Along with yoga stretches, core exercises can also help in easing back pain. When you build flexibility strength in your core muscles (those in the abdomen, lower back, pelvis and hips), you reduce the risk of back strain and muscle spasms.

One of the ways you can exercise your core is by holding a plank position for 15 to 30 seconds. It may sound easy on paper but if you haven’t done it before, you may find it’s actually very challenging to maintain the proper position. Your hands should be straight under your shoulders with your legs out straight. Keep your body in a straight line - no sagging around the middle or bowing your back. Keep your abdominal muscles engaged and don’t forget to breathe.

Following these tips can help keep your spine healthy and relieve pressure on your lower back, helping you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Try them out and let us know how it goes!

This is a guest blog entry.

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