How to Sleep Comfortably in Any Position for Back Pain
Our ridges secretly hate us. A third of people in the United States suffer from some form of back pain. This number is expected to increase significantly over the next few years, thanks to the combination of desktop life and our generally inactive society. It would seem that the night brings relief, but when we lie down, the discomfort does not diminish.
This post originally appeared on the Van Winkles website .
“People have more pain at night and in the morning because their joints don’t move,” says Joseph McNamara, a chiropractic neurologist in Cumming, Georgia. “The brain is not sending extra blood flow to this area.”
In addition to tension and lack of movement, conditions such as scoliosis (curvature of the spine), arthritis, spondylitis (inflammation of the joints along the spine), bulging or ruptured intervertebral discs, and osteoporosis cause back pain.
Due to the myriad of back problems, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how to sleep better if you suffer from back pain. However, there are techniques that will reduce the pressure on your spine by keeping it in a neutral position, which will help you sleep more easily and wake up with less pain and stiffness. Here’s what the experts say.
If you are a sleeping stomach
Sleeping on your stomach is generally considered the worst sleeping position if you suffer from back and neck pain.
“It’s like looking over your shoulder for 8 hours,” because you have to turn your head to one side or the other so you can breathe, ”says Dr. Ariel Blackburn , a Jones Island chiropractor in South Carolina.
It also stretches the spine excessively, which can worsen lower back pain.
These tense muscles then make the lower back stronger, ”says Dr. Joseph Horrigan, director of the Soft Tissue Center at DISC Sports & Spine Center.
“As the vault increases, the joints of the spine (facet joints) contract. If these joints are already irritated or inflamed, the person may wake up with a dull pain in the lower back, ”he says.
Sleeping on the stomach can be so harmful that many doctors recommend that patients try to get into the habit of sleeping on their side instead.
But if it’s too difficult for you to fall asleep in any position other than your belly, turning slightly to the side and using a thin pillow can ease the discomfort, says Dr.Kamshad Riszade, board-certified orthopedic surgeon and co-founder of SpineZone in California.
If you sleep on your back
When you lie on your back, this position can put too much stress on your lower discs because you flatten out lumbar lordosis (the natural, straight curve of the lower back), explains Matt Tanneberg, sports chiropractor, board certified strength and fitness specialist. Phoenix Specialist.
However, the knee pad supports normal curvature of the lumbar spine and allows the lower back to relax.
As for the head, do not be afraid to relate to the pillow you sleep on, addiction to the diva. The wrong type can cause headaches, neck and shoulder pain, and numbness in the hands, Raiszade said.
“The pillow should not be thicker than the distance from neck to shoulder,” advises Blackburn. Sleepers on their backs can make the pain worse if their head is tilted too far forward, resulting in increased neck flexion.
“If you sleep on your back, you may need a thinner pillow,” says Raiszade.
And that thinner pillow doesn’t have to be expensive to have a therapeutic effect. “A small rolled towel or crescent-shaped pillow under the neck can also help maintain a normal neck position,” Raiszade adds.
If you want to try a special therapy pillow, McNamara recommends a cervical variation because it “helps maintain the lordotic curve of the neck when you are supine and keeps your spine straight when you lie on your side.”
Foam padding under the knees can also be a good idea to prevent excessive lumbar lordosis.
“Styrofoam wedges are often preferable to pillows because the pillows flatten and move,” says Raiszade.
A pillow under your knees is also the best way to sleep if you have stenosis, a rare condition in which the spaces along the spine narrow, putting pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. “Sleeping with a pillow under your knees flexes your back and opens the canal to relieve pressure on the umbilical cord,” says Glynn Hunt, a physical therapist and board-certified orthopedic specialist.
A pillow-supported position is also great if you have an anteriorly angled pelvis, Raiszade adds.
If you’re sleeping sideways
Every pregnant woman learns to sleep on her side with a pillow between her knees. But it works whether you’re pregnant or not: “It keeps your legs in a good neutral position and prevents your upper leg from dropping onto the mattress and putting your pelvis in a strong twist position,” says Dr. Jason. Hare, a chiropractor from Nanaimo, British Columbia.
However, pillow selection and placement are critical. The pillow should be small enough so that there is no awkwardness between your legs, but large enough so that you do not roll onto your back or stomach.
If you sleep on your side, you will need a firmer and thicker pillow, thick enough to cover the distance from your ear to the bed and to keep your neck in a neutral position. In addition, a pillow between the legs will help prevent the spine from rotating, says Raiszade.
It should be noted, however, that some of the pillows designed to help people with back pain sleep better are useless for those who sleep on their sides.
“A person who mostly sleeps on their side may not be able to cope with the contour pillow because the contouring part can actually pull his or her neck out of its natural position,” says Blackburn. “And the memory cushions are very dense and the patient may take some time to get used to them. Or they may be too large, causing their necks to bend when they lie on their backs. “
To increase your chances of a good night’s sleep, no matter what position you prefer, warm baths or “sleepy” tea before bed can help.
“If you have chronic back pain, use heat. This will relax the muscles in your lower back and release some of the tension, ”Tanneberg says (however, if you have an acute back injury, use ice. The heat will increase the inflammation and make your pain worse).