For people with chronic back pain, trying to sleep can be a nightmare. In fact, Cedar Rapids Pain Associates notes that between 50 and 90 percent of back pain sufferers report difficulty sleeping and often wake up feeling unrested and stressed. Because there is so little distraction at night, you are left to focus solely on your pain, making it a struggle to fall asleep. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help calm the pain and increase your sleep quality.
While yoga may not be the best idea for those with severe pain, it can be an excellent choice if you suffer from chronic lower back pain or soreness. Many studies have shown yoga can decrease pain, even occasionally reducing the need for pain medication. This is because yoga helps to lengthen your spine, maintaining proper alignment in your back. It can also build strength in your core, helping to prevent you from incurring further back injuries.
If you’ve cleared it with your doctor, try incorporating a nightly yoga routine before bed. Dim the lights, put on some soothing music, and go through your series of stretches. This practice has two benefits: it will soothe your aching muscles, and it will calm your mind enough to help you fall asleep more easily.
For even more help calming your mind once you’re in bed, try taking advantage of one of the numerous relaxation apps that exist to help people unwind and fall asleep. The Relax Melodies: Sleep Sounds app is a popular choice. This app allows you to customize your background noise, creating soundtracks of nature sounds, meditation music, ASMR sounds, or white noise. It can also provide bedtime stories, suggested stretches, or guided meditations.
For a more scientific approach, the NASA-developed app Sleep Genius provides sounds designed to guide your brain through the stages of sleep.
If you want to focus more exclusively on meditation, Calm can help you relax and get to sleep every night. And to wake up a little more easily, smart alarm apps like Sleep Time are designed to wake you in the lightest stage of sleep, helping you feel more rested even if you struggled with insomnia the night before.
If you’re making use of apps that run all night, you run the risk of overage charges from data use. Many people find prepaid phone plans ease their app-using woes. You can choose a plan that works with your usage, number of family members, type of phone, or whatever, so that you can take full advantage of your apps to get the sleep you need.
Find the Right Position
What position you sleep in can have an enormous impact on the back pain you experience. Cleveland Clinic suggests sleeping on your back in order to keep your spine in a neutral position throughout the night. If you are a side sleeper, however, you should make sure to alternate which side you sleep on so that you don’t develop imbalances over time. It can also be beneficial to sleep with a pillow between your knees to help keep your spine in line with your hips.
Pick a Medium-Firm Mattress
While extremely soft mattresses may feel comfortable when you first lie down, they can contribute to increased back pain over time. Some studies suggest that mattresses of medium firmness are the most beneficial for people suffering from chronic back pain. While a new mattress can be an expense, it may be worth it if you find yourself constantly unable to sleep due to pain.
Back pain is never easy, but with some experimentation, it may be possible for you to reduce insomnia and greatly improve your sleep. Think about what will keep you most comfortable and ease that discomfort. With a good night’s sleep, your days will shine brighter, too!