Guest Blogger Cheryl Conklin Gives you tips on Back Health
Coping with Back Pain: Getting the Sleep Your Body Needs
A lot depends on your ability to sleep at night. You need seven to nine hours of restful sleep to maintain a healthy mental outlook, concentrate during the day, and keep your metabolism and immune system functioning properly. There are many things that can keep you from sleeping, such as anxiety, sleep apnea, and certain prescription medications, but few sleep problems are as difficult to deal with as chronic back pain. If back pain is keeping you from getting to sleep every night, you may be caught in a self-perpetuating cycle in which the pain keeps you from sleeping, while the lack of sleep worsens your back pain. Here are some tips to help solve that problem.
Doing some gentle stretching exercises before bed can help minimize muscle tension, which is a major cause of back pain. Talk to a physical therapist about morning exercises that can help you face the day and stretching exercises you can do at bedtime so you’re able to rest more comfortably. Combine these with relaxation strategies, like reading or meditation, to reduce tension and help you prepare for sleep. Discuss with your doctor the possibility of doing yoga, which is a physical and meditative discipline that can alleviate pain and make it easier to sleep.
Find the Right Sleep Position
If you’ve always been a stomach sleeper, it’s probably time to try a different position since sleeping face down places undue strain on the back. Instead, try sleeping on your back, which distributes your weight evenly, and place a pillow under your knees to help keep your spine in alignment. Or, you can try sleeping on your side in the fetal position with a pillow between your knees. Changing positions is an adjustment and may take some time, so be prepared to try different positions until you find the one that works best.
Your mattress may be the single most important factor in your ability to sleep well, especially if you suffer from back pain. It’s essential to have a mattress that provides adequate support by keeping the spine in alignment with your neck and head. That means a mattress must strike the right balance between being firm enough to hold you in the right position while providing enough contouring to keep your spinal column in the proper position.
If your mattress is at least five years old, it’s time to look into getting a new one. Read customer reviews and test different ones in the showroom, particularly mattresses with memory foam, until you find the best one that puts you in a healthy and comfortable sleep position. Always be smart when it comes to cost and value by checking into different purchase offers and warranties.
Watch What You Ingest at Night
Watch what you eat or drink in the evening; avoid stimulants or anything that could keep you wired and disrupt the REM sleep your body needs to restore itself. Avoid coffee, tea, chocolate and alcohol, and avoid eating a full meal before bed, which can cause problems if you’re trying to sleep on your back (acid reflux, breathing/snoring issues).
Getting In and Out of Bed
You can easily aggravate a back condition by getting out of bed the wrong way, such as trying to spring up into a seated position by creating torque with your hips. Instead, roll onto your side, slide your legs off the side of the bed, use your arms to reach a seated position, then slowly stand by pushing up using your legs. Moving at a slow and steady pace helps as well.
You need regular, restful sleep to help you cope with back pain and function adequately during the day. Dealing with your discomfort may require some lifestyle and logistical changes (such as changing mattresses or pillows), so find the right sleep routine and situation for you.
Image courtesy of Pixabay