Lower back pain plagues many Americans over the course of their day, making their jobs and just everyday movements difficult and painful. At the end of the day, nothing seems more appealing than lying in your comfortable bed to rest your back in hopes that the pain will lessen before you have to do it all again tomorrow. However, for many people who suffer from lower back pain, bed time doesn’t bring relief and the suffering continues in a never-ending loop of pain and misery.
Our experts here at Holten Wellness Center want you to be able to get the rest that you need and deserve. We’ve put together some helpful hints that are designed to help you fall asleep, and stay asleep throughout the night so you can get a good night’s rest.
Sleeping Positions to Help Relieve Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain is typically a symptom of a greater problem. Adjusting your sleeping position based upon the underlying condition that you are suffering from could play a key part in bringing you comfort and a better night of sleep. Different conditions tend to respond better to specific positions.
For example, if you have a herniated disc then sleeping on your stomach will generally provide the greatest relief. However, the position of your herniated disc can also impact which sleeping position is most comfortable for you. While those suffering from paracentral herniated discs are typically more comfortable on their stomach, people who have a foraminal herniated disc tend to be more comfortable sleeping on their side in a fetal position.
Individuals suffering from degenerative disc disease also tend to favor sleeping on their stomach as this helps relieve the pressure on the discs. If this doesn’t seem like it’s providing you enough comfort and support you may consider placing a thin pillow under your stomach and hips to help reduce the stress on your back even further.
If you have been diagnosed as suffering from isthmic spondylolisthesis then sleeping in a reclining position tends to provide the most comfort. Many people with this condition favor adjustable beds that can be elevated to different levels of incline.
It is important to remember, however, that all of these sleeping positions are merely suggestions. You don’t force yourself to sleep in a position that’s uncomfortable just because that position is what works for other people. Each individual is different. You can also speak with your medical professional about other sleeping positions that may be better for your specific case.
Cold Therapy and Easing Lower Back Pain
More and more people who suffer from lower back pain have found that applying ice to the area or partaking in a nightly ice massage is just the trick to help them fall asleep with less pain. By applying an ice pack or a cold gel pack to your lower back prior to bed you can help reduce inflammation and slow down the nerve impulses in the area.
An ice massage is done by freezing water in a paper cup. Once frozen, you can peel away the top inch or so of the cup away from the ice. To begin the ice massage, lie on your side and use the hand on the side that you are not lying on to apply the ice in a circular motion to your lower back. Focus on a six inch area around the pain. If you have a partner that is willing to help with the massage, you can also lie on your stomach and have them apply the ice in the same motion. Just be careful that you don’t apply the ice for more than five minutes at a time in order to avoid a potential ice burn. If an ice massage is a little too extreme for your comfort level then you can also wrap a cold pack or an ice pack in a cloth and apply it to the area where you’re experiencing pain for about 15 – 20 minutes prior to bed time.
Having a Sleep Schedule Can Ease Lower Back Pain
For many people, lower back pain can actually worsen during sleep. This tends to greatly affect your sleep schedule which can actually act as a disservice to your back. Working with a regular sleep schedule will help establish and maintain a natural sleep cycle for your body. This will actually make it easier for you to fall asleep each night.
Choosing a specific bed time that doesn’t vary much from day to day and ensuring that it allows you to get approximately eight hours of sleep each night is the first step in creating a sleep schedule. The next thing you’ll want to do is choose one or two activities that helps you relax for the 30 – 60 minutes prior to your bed time. These activities vary from person to person depending on their preferences, but it should be something that helps you relax and signal to your brain that it’s time for sleep.
Paying attention to when you have stimulants such as coffee and other sources of caffeine is also an important part of making sure that you can fall asleep close to your designated bed time. You should either avoid caffeine completely, or at least limit yourself to not having any after lunch time. It’s also a good idea to avoid rigorous exercise routines prior to bed. Waking up is also an important part of a well-developed sleep schedule. At the same time every morning, when you wake up, you should immediately get out of bed.
These tips will help ensure that you are able to get a better night of sleep with your back pain. Better rest can lessen the intensity of your back pain and creating a routine is a great way to improve your lower back pain.