Do you have trouble sleeping at night due to back pain?
This blog is excerpted from Everyday Health, originally written by Diana Rodriguez, medically review by Meeta Shah, MD, on December 20, 2016.
Back pain can make it tough to get a good night’s sleep. At the same time, how you sleep may make things worse — while certain sleep positions put strain on an already aching back, others may help you find relief.
Experts do believe, however, that people with sleep problems experience more problems with back pain. Pain in turn can affect the quality of your sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation, leading to a lighter sleep state and more frequent waking throughout the night.
What’s more, there’s a relationship between the severity of pain, overall mood, and the ability to function — and a good night of sleep can improve all these symptoms, at least temporarily, according to a study published in the November 2016 issue of the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.
Worst Sleep Positions for Back Pain
Some sleep positions can put added pressure on your neck, shoulders, hips, lower back, knees, and even your heels, all of which can lead to pain. There’s no one-size-fits-all sleep position to kick back pain, but you can try a few tricks to get it under control so that you can sleep more soundly.
The most common offender? Sleeping on your stomach. “Typically, sleeping on your stomach can flatten the natural curve of your spine, putting some additional strain on your back muscles,” Santhosh Thomas, DO, MBA, says. Plus, stomach sleeping means that your neck is rotated, which can actually result in neck pain or back pain between your shoulders, says Paul Grous, a physical therapist and spine specialist.
Don’t worry about keeping your body in the same position all night. It’s normal for you to move around a bit while you sleep, and that’s a good thing because a little movement can help ease pressure on your back.
Grous adds that the real culprit may not be sleep position but your daily activity — or a lack of it. “My opinion of the biggest causative factor for back pain in our population is the amount of time we spend sitting during waking hours,” he says. “We sit too long and we don’t sit properly — we sit slouched with our backs rounded.” During daylight hours, try to vary your posture as much as possible, and practice good posture when standing and sitting to help ease back pain at night.
Sleep Positions That Help Relieve Back Pain
First, you’ve got to be comfortable to get a good night’s sleep. Thomas suggests making a few simple modifications to your regular sleep position to help take a load off your back:
- If you’re a back sleeper: Put a pillow under your knees to allow your spine to maintain its natural curve.
- If you’re a stomach sleeper: Put a pillow under your lower abdomen and pelvis to ease back strain.
- If you’re a side sleeper: Draw your legs up slightly toward your chest and sleep with a pillow (a full body pillow can be comfortable) between your knees.
Overall, if a few changes to your sleep position don’t help your back pain or sleep troubles, it may be time to get a medical opinion. If your pain worsens, Thomas recommends meeting with your doctor to check for any potentially serious problems.
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Read the full article on Everyday Health here: https://www.everydayhealth.com/news/switch-sleep-positions-ease-back-pain/