Best Way To Sleep With Back Pain
Back pain can be debilitating — especially when you’re trying to get a good night’s rest. The worst kind of bedding for sleeping with back pain is any type of traditional mattress pad. They may look comforting and help keep you warm during cold weather, but they also add extra weight that strains muscles. You need to weigh down your body slightly more than necessary in order to achieve proper spinal alignment while you sleep. In other words, you shouldn’t feel like you have to use two pillows to prop up your head. If you do, you probably aren’t resting properly.
If you’ve tried different ways to support your head and neck without much success, consider an air-filled memory foam pillow instead. This has become the standard for most insomniacs who suffer from chronic back pain. It conforms to your unique shape just right, as well as providing adequate comfort. Memory foam is designed to mold itself around your body’s contours and adjust its firmness accordingly. That means you don’t have to worry about settling into uncomfortable positions overnight, which can cause muscle strain and even pinching of nerve roots. Some models are filled with gel beads, whereas others feature hollow chambers that inflate automatically. Either way, this type of pillow will prevent you from rolling over onto your painful side.
There are several things to watch out for when buying a new memory foam pillow. First, make sure the material is high quality. Most manufacturers only use low-grade materials because they cost less money to produce. Poorly constructed pillows lose their effectiveness quickly and often break after repeated washing. Second, choose a model with a thicker top layer. The cover should be thick enough to withstand constant contact with your skin all night long. Otherwise, you could wake up feeling hot and sticky. Third, buy a pillow that doesn’t sag under pressure. Pillow tops made specifically for supporting your head usually won’t sink if you sleep on them for a few hours. However, if you spend time reading or watching television in bed, you might want to invest in a couple of pillows with built-in readers. These devices hold books and magazines upright so you don’t have to lean forward too far. And some televisions come equipped with a small platform that supports the TV set at eye level without having to lift it yourself. Finally, pick a pillow that offers adjustable firmness. A firmer version provides better support than a softer option, but there isn’t much difference between soft and medium options. So try out various firmness levels before making your final decision.
With these factors in mind, here are our recommendations for the best way to sleep with back pain. We’ll start with the easiest method first.
Sleep Position 1: Lying Flat On Your Back
This is by far the best way to avoid back problems while you sleep. All you need is a single thin pillow. Lie on your back with your shoulders, hips, and feet aligned straight ahead. If your lower back feels stiff or sore, lie on your left side with your elbow bent 90 degrees and your forearm propped against your stomach. Place the pillow beneath your neck and face, then tuck the bottom edge behind your calves. If you prefer, you can purchase a wedge-shaped pillow specifically designed for this purpose.
To ensure that your body remains completely relaxed throughout the night, we recommend using a product called Somnox. It combines cooling gel pads with special temperature controls that provide soothing warmth whenever you require it.
Sleep Position 2: Lying Side By Side
Sleeping with your head elevated slightly above your chest makes it easier to breathe. But that can lead to shoulder and arm pain. Instead, try placing a rolled towel or blanket lengthwise under your head. Slide your upper torso onto the towel until your chin gently rests atop the folded fabric. Then pull the edges up toward your ears. You can also try sleeping on your side with your torso facing sideways.
If you experience severe back pain while you sleep, you may want to elevate your legs higher than normal (about six inches) when you lay on your side. Elevating your legs helps alleviate symptoms by relieving pressure on your abdominal organs and spine.
Sleep Position 3: Sitting Up
Many people who suffer from acute back pain find relief by sitting upright in a recliner chair or lounger. Others opt to sit on the floor with their backs supported by pillows. Unfortunately, both methods put excessive stress on the lower back region. Sleeping on the ground puts undue pressure on your pelvis and abdomen, which can eventually give rise to herniation. And if you sleep near a fire, you risk inhaling smoke particles and carbon monoxide that can damage blood vessels and reduce oxygenation of vital tissues.
Instead of lying down, take advantage of the natural inclination of your body to curl up into a ball to stay warm. Sit comfortably on the floor with your legs extended and crossed. Rest your head on your arms. Use a rolled towel or blanket lengthwise under your buttocks to keep your lower back off the ground.
Sleep Position 4: Standing Up
A popular solution to back discomfort is to stand up straight with your feet spread apart. There are several variations on this technique. One approach involves standing erect with your hands clasped behind your back. Another alternative is to cross your arms across your chest and place your thumbs inside your armpits. Still others combine elements of both styles. Whatever your preference, remember to maintain a slight bend in your elbows and keep your shoulders relaxed.
Some people find that standing up straight causes fatigue and dizziness, particularly if their legs are weak. To relieve this problem, stretch your legs before going to bed. Try standing up straight for five minutes every hour or so. Slowly increase the duration of each session over time.
Now let’s see what happens when you mix up these four sleeping positions.
Sleep Position 5: Laying Down, Face Upward
It might sound counterintuitive, but turning your face upward can actually improve circulation and breathing patterns. It prevents you from snoring and reduces the amount of fluid buildup in your sinuses. Additionally, keeping your mouth closed cuts off airflow through nasal passages, which keeps dust bunnies and pollen balls trapped in your nose.
You’ll still need a thin pillow to place under your head. Just roll it lengthwise so that the hard surface faces downward. Now turn your head to one side and rest your cheek and forehead on the pillow. Keep your eyes shut and relax your neck and back muscles.
Sleep Position 6: Laying Down, Face Down
Putting a pillow between your knees and ankles can work wonders for those suffering from lower back pain. The rounded surfaces offer additional support for your knees and hips. Plus, they create a barrier that separates your legs from objects below, such as furniture and rugs.
But you must make sure that the pillow fits snugly between your thighs. Don’t use anything wider than 12 inches. Also, never sleep with socks or panty hose covering your legs. Those items bunch together and compress your thigh tissue. When you remove them, they trap moisture underneath and promote bacterial growth. Not to mention the fact that pantyhose tend to ride up over time and rub against sensitive parts of your leg.
Here’s how to solve the common problem associated with sleeping with your shoes on. Cut holes in the soles of your shoes where possible. Then slip your feet inside to ease movement and stretching. Or simply wear slippers with open toes.
Sleep Position 7: Seated Stretches
When you’re lying down, you can perform seated stretches to ease tension in your lower back. Start by bending your knees and leaning forward until your torso is nearly horizontal. Hold that pose for ten seconds, then slowly return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times. As you gain strength, repeat the exercise three or four times per day.
Try sleeping with a water bottle handy next. Simply pour water into the container and sip it as needed. Drinking water prior to bedtime hydrates your body and avoids dehydration, which leads to dry mucus membranes and constipation.
Finally, don’t forget to check your bedroom door before retiring. Sometimes, a loose hinge or knob can cause trouble in the middle of the night. Before you go to bed, tighten everything up and test the door to see if it works smoothly.
For sufferers of insomnia due to stressful situations, our advice is to adopt healthy habits and avoid negative thoughts and behaviors. Learn techniques that help you fall asleep fast and stay asleep longer.
I’m not an expert on back health. I’ve had occasional bouts of bad posture, and I know that poor sleeping positions can contribute to back problems. But my own back pain is mild compared to many patients I treat in my chiropractic practice. Fortunately, I have been blessed with excellent health insurance coverage and access to physical therapists. Since I live in Florida, I was able to schedule appointments with a sports medicine specialist and a massage therapist. Both helped me learn basic exercises and stretches that I can do on my own.
As for the memory foam pillow article, I wasn’t aware that memory foam conformed to your body shape. Although my husband likes his, he’s very particular about how it conforms to him.
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