Getting a good night’s rest is imperative to a healthy lifestyle. Research shows that sleeping well is connected to mental health, physical health, and personal safety. Without quality sleep, you’re at risk of developing heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. On top of that, when you don’t get proper rest, you’re also more likely to experience mood swings, sadness, depression, lack of motivation, and problems paying attention.
According to the National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep in America Poll, over half of people with chronic pain have difficulty sleeping each night. This is especially true for people with back pain, who are unable to get into a comfortable sleep position without worsening already tender pain points. If you suffer from chronic or acute low back pain, there are a few non-pharmaceutical pain therapy options out there that will help you get better sleep.
1. Change Your Sleep Position – Though it sounds simple, changing your sleep position can be a serious challenge if you’re used to snuggling up in a certain manner each night. But the use of a knee pillow and other helpful tips can keep the pressure points untriggered while you get necessary rest.
a. On Your Back with a Pillow Under Your Knees – Placing a pillow under the back of the knees can help ensure that your neck, hips, and back are aligned. The idea behind this sleep position is that it keeps your spine neutral and eliminates any pressure points that would worsen with a curve.
b. On Your Side with a Pillow Between Your Knees – If you’re a side sleeper, you can use a knee sleeping pillow (or simply a regular pillow with a bit of extra structure) to prevent your spine from curving while you sleep.
c. On Your Side in the Fetal Position – Sleeping in the fetal position, with your knees tucked into the chest, opens up the joints and elongates the spine. This will help reduce pressure and pain so you sleep better.
2. Try Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) – Have you considered low-level laser treatment for back pain? This cutting-edge option temporarily relieves lower back pain associated with mild to moderate aches, muscle spasms, and inflammation, which can help you sink into a relaxed, pain-free state. The best part is, laser therapy belts are painless and drug-free, with no reported adverse side effects.
3. Evaluate Your Mattress – Unfortunately, your mattress could be worsening your back pain. One of the main reasons why your bed may be to blame is because it’s not properly supporting a properly aligned spine. If your spine is not aligned while you sleep, it can put pressure on already tender pain points, and you’ll wake up feeling worse. Consider a firm or medium-firm mattress for better alignment.
4. Use Ice, Heat, or Massage – Temporary pain relief is possible with certain therapies that will help you treat the pain and sink into a state of relaxation. If your condition can be safely treated with hot or cold therapy, consider integrating it into your bedtime routine so you go to bed pain-free. Enjoying a massage before bedtime will also help you settle into a restful state.
5. Create a Dreamy Sleep Environment – Lower back pain alone is enough to keep you up at night, but it’s nearly impossible to sleep if you’re also dealing with common sleep preventers, such as loud noises, bright lights, or the wrong temperature. The National Sleep Foundation recommends sleeping in a quiet, dark bedroom between 54 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit for the best results. Resist the urge to self-medicate with alcohol, drugs, or over-the-counter sleep aids.
6. Try Relaxing Rituals – Again, while these things won’t take the pain away, they will help ensure that your body feels ready to commit to a good night of sleep once you get settled in. Lighting a candle, taking a relaxing bath, or playing soothing sleep sounds may help you combat anxiety or restlessness.
One of the most common reasons people don’t get enough high-quality sleep is because they experience pain that either prevents them from falling asleep or wakes them up in the middle of the night. Learning how to sleep with lower back pain comes down to getting temporary relief so that you can fall asleep and stay asleep for longer. All of these options will help ensure that you rest pain-free and enjoy a better quality of life.