A client of ours sent us an email last week, expressing his thanks for enabling him to have the best night's sleep he'd had in several months. It's not unusual for people to come to us exhausted, following months - sometimes years - of surviving on very little sleep thanks to their back pain.
Sleep is vital for basic human function. It's the time when our body rests and repairs. If you have back pain, that rest and repair becomes even MORE important. Yet, as so many people with back pain will tell you, getting comfortable enough for a decent night's kip is easier said than done.
Try these strategies to help soothe you into a comfortable slumber the next time your back threatens to keep you up all night:
1. Find your position
This one is tricky as everyone has their own comfortable position, but often the position which aggravates backs the most is sleeping on your front.
In this position, your spine is in an unnatural position and unable to maintain it's natural curve, which subsequently puts pressure on your back muscles.
If you sleep on your side, try placing a pillow in between your knees to stop your top leg sliding forward and rotating your spine.
If you sleep on your back, try a pillow under your knees or small rolled up towel in the small of your back to maintain the curve of your spine.
Keep in mind at all times the natural shape of your spine and trying to maintain that in your sleeping position. Which brings us on to:
Too many or too little and you'll have an unnatural curve in your neck. Choose a thickness which keeps your head and neck in alignment with your spine.
3. Warm bath
The warmth of the water will help relax your muscles. If you're feeling stiff and tense, or your muscles are in spasm, this is the ideal way to encourage your body to relax as you prepare for slumber.
You'll also experience the added mental benefits of helping relax your mind at the same time as warm baths can trigger the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone.
Salt baths are proven to reduce inflammation so using Epsom salts or magnesium in the water may also help.
Getting the right amount of support is vital, and investing in a decent mattress should be a priority if you have back pain.
In terms of the support, ultimately, there is no one type of mattress which is best for all back pain, so you should choose one with the right level of support for you, whilst maintaining the comfort you need for a good night's sleep.
Choose a mattress which supports your back and helps maintain the alignment of your spine, without sagging in the middle, for example. One study found that medium-firm mattresses usually provide more back pain relief than firm mattresses. One which is too firm may cause pressure points on your shoulders and hips, so find one where your shoulders and hips can naturally sink in slightly.