Back pain is a serious and wide-reaching problem. According to the American Chiropractic Association, more than 80 percent of adults will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. It is also the third most common reason patients visits their doctors.
Sleeping while suffering from an aching back can seem impossible. Once you are finally able to get to sleep, you may even find that the problem has worsened through the night. Luckily, there are ways to ease sleeping while improving your spine health.
Rethink Your Mattress
The mattress on your bed could be the primary cause of your spine issues. Make sure you are using a mattress that supports your back while also offering a comfortable night’s sleep. Mattresses with a medium firmness are best for spine health. Those with memory foam or other cushioning atop the mattress are even better. Even if you are happy with your current mattress, it may be time for a replacement. The National Sleep Foundation suggests replacing mattresses every 10 years.
Study Sleep Positions
Side or back sleeping are both fine for back issues. The spine remains in one straight line through the night, easing any pressure. Those who sleep on their stomachs may find too much stress placed on the lower back. If you are used to falling asleep while on your stomach, attempt to train yourself to sleep in a more a back-friendly position. It is more important than ever to have excellent pillows and mattresses if you find you simply cannot change your sleep habits.
Use Pillows and Props
Pillows, like mattresses, should be replaced on a regular basis. Standard pillows should be replaced every six to 12 months. Memory foam pillows with stronger cores need to be replaced every two to three years. Replacing pillows ensures that the structural integrity remains strong, which only serves to help your back. Of course, pillows are not just for head. Side sleepers can benefit from a pillow or wedge between their knees. Stomach sleepers should place the wedge below their lower stomachs. The idea behind pillows is the necessity to keep the spine aligned.
Seek Healthy Alternatives
While all of these methods are important to painless sleep, there are alternatives you might consider as well. An important one is to build up your core during the day. Stomach exercises build strong abdominal muscles, which serve to support the back. Yoga and other stretching exercises can help to relieve tension that causes back strain. Getting regular massages, visiting a chiropractor or even engaging in acupuncture may help with nightly pain. You might even consider using essential oils like eucalyptus, frankincense or peppermint. Diffusing these at night might help you to awaken with a back that is less achy.
You should always consult your physician if you have serious back issues. However, in many cases, the underlying problem is due to the curvature of the backbone while lying in bed at night. Treating your nighttime hours as an opportunity to support spine health rather than contribute to issues may be all you need to begin living pain-free.