Article by : Cheryl Conklin of Wellness Central
In a survey quoted by the Sleep Foundation, only 45 percent of those suffering from acute pain reported having good, quality sleep. And when it comes to those with chronic pain, the results were even bleaker (37 percent). While back pain isn’t the only type of pain that can prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep, it is the most common. If you suffer from chronic or acute back pain, then here’s what you need to know to ensure it doesn’t ruin your rest.
It’s Okay to Seek Out Medical Help
For whatever reason, some people who experience sleep-affecting back pain believe they can and should fix themselves without the help of medical professionals. Some fear that the solution the doctor will prescribe will be medication, and both sleep and pain meds turn them off. Though there are plenty of non-habit-forming medications that can aid in pain relief and sleep, it’s important you remember that medicine isn’t only about prescriptions. There are therapies like massage, chiropractic services, rehabilitation, and more that you can try — and many may be covered by your insurance!
Make Sure Your Mattress Isn’t the Problem
The composition of that soft, cushiony thing you lie down on every night has a profound effect on how you feel when you wake up the next morning.
As SleepJunkie simply puts it, “Your spine and the muscles supporting it rest while you sleep at night. As you settle into a horizontal sleeping position, proper alignment and support is essential to reducing and avoiding soreness over the several hours you’re in bed.”
There’s no right answer to the question “What mattress is best for me?” Some people have success with memory foam, while others don’t. Many prefer a medium-firm to firm mattress. Finding the right mattress for you is the first step in getting quality sleep through back pain.
Sometimes, It’s About How You Sleep
While the mattress is the first thing to consider, there’s a good chance it’s not the surface you sleep on that’s exacerbating your pain — it could be how you’re sleeping on it. When we sleep, our bodies often fail to land in the optimal position for back comfort. It’s on you to ensure you sleep in a manner that’s conducive to proper spine alignment. Some sleeping positions known to reduce back pain include sleeping on your side and sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees/upper legs (you can purchase one of these pillows for $19.97). Stomach sleeping and sleeping at an acute angle (with too many propped pillows behind your back, for instance) have been known to worsen back pain.
Not Every Solution Lies in the Bedroom
Changing positions and finding the perfect mattress, while important, may not really address the root cause of your back pain. You may not be able to eliminate that pain altogether through rehab, but you can lessen the amount of pressure you put on your back by hiring others to do some household chores, such as mowing the lawn or cleaning your home.
Also smart exercise can help your back become stronger and more flexible. This, in more cases than not, will lessen your back pain. So, try back-friendly exercises like side planks, dead bug leg raises, and the lying chest opener. Special yoga routines for back pain are also widely available, and trying one or more of those would be a good idea. Remember this: With exercise, you get a two-for-one deal. Not only can it help alleviate back pain, but working out also helps you sleep better even if you don’t have back pain. Seniors can take advantage of Medicare Advantage plans like those offered by companies like Humana. Many of these plans give seniors access to fitness centers through the SilverSneakers program.
At this point, it’s likely you’re stuck in a bad cycle: your back pain is disrupting your sleep and your poor sleep is making your back pain worse. Know that this cycle can be reversed.
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