5 Ways to Relieve Back Pain So You Can Sleep Better and Improve Your Life
by Cheryl Conklin
Living with chronic back pain involves daily challenges. From getting out of bed in the morning to getting comfortable when you go to sleep at night, back pain can be very frustrating. Fortunately, there are five ways you can relieve pain and enjoy better sleep—improving your mood and quality of life, too.
Start a Pre-Sleep Stretching Routine
Many back problems are related to muscle or ligament strain, Mayo Clinic explains, and symptoms may worsen at bedtime. The good news is, stretching each night or practicing simple yoga poses can help relieve muscle tension and help you wind down for bed.
People who do yoga regularly also report feeling more relaxed and peaceful overall. Part of it is the deep breathing routine, experts note, which helps reduce your fight-or-flight stress response.
If back pain—and other life challenges—are stressing you out, yoga can be a calming influence. It can even help you produce more oxytocin and endorphins—your body’s happy hormones.
Make Time for Exercise
Exercising is healthy for your body, but you might shy away from it while you deal with back troubles. But if your doctor agrees it’s safe for you to exercise, working out could help strengthen your core muscles and lessen back pain and tension.
One study found that people who exercised over six weeks experienced more effective pain relief than those who attended physical therapy for the same period. Specifically, core stabilization exercises were influential in reducing pain perception.
Even adding moderate exercise like walking or swimming to your routine can also expend energy that would otherwise keep you up at night. Getting your body moving can help work out stress and prepare you for deeper and better-quality sleep.
Swap Out Your Mattress
An old, lumpy mattress does nothing to help your back pain. In some cases, your bed might be contributing to chronic back problems—especially if it’s too firm, Harvard Health notes. Harvard’s experts note that “very hard” mattresses contributed to inferior sleep experiences.
Clearly, the right mattress can make a significant difference in both your sleep quality and comfort level.
Consider your sleeping style and shop for a new mattress that suits you. For example, people who sleep on their sides tend to prefer Purple mattresses. Conversely, WinkBed mattress options offer extra spinal support for back sleepers.
Make Your Sleep Routine Regular
A regular sleep routine has plenty of benefits for your health—such as a lowered risk of certain diseases. But making sure you get regular—and adequate—sleep can also decrease your sensitivity to pain. One study found that “extending nightly sleep” helped adults reduce their pain sensitivity and increase daytime alertness.
Also, keeping a regular schedule helps solidify your body’s natural rhythms. Your circadian rhythm—AKA, your internal alarm clock—regulates your sleep and wake periods. Catering to your body’s instinct to sleep when it’s dark and get up when it’s light out can help you prep for more restful sleep.
Plus, sticking with nature’s plan can help you feel drowsy at bedtime—even if your back pain typically keeps you up. Overall, you’ll sleep more deeply once your body recognizes and accepts regular sleep patterns.
Improve Your Sleep Posture
Sleep posture—which the University of Rochester Medical Center says is a real thing—can have a significant impact on your pain level and sleep quality.
To keep your body aligned while you rest, use pillows or other positioning devices to keep your spine in its natural curve. Also, keep your body in alignment when you turn or roll over, instead of twisting or bending.
Getting quality rest is vital for your everyday functioning—and for improving your back pain. With these five tips, you can get deeper, better sleep, and start feeling more like yourself again.