How to Make Sleeping With Back Pain a Less Painful Experience

Back Pain

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Back pain is no fun. It’s hard to stand; it’s hard to walk; it’s hard to sit; it’s hard to do anything! When you’re dealing with back pain all day, the last thing you need is to sleep while in pain.

Thankfully, you can take some steps to help secure yourself a good night’s sleep. By making some key adjustments like purchasing a specialized mattress for sciatica, you can turn to your bed for a moment of respite.

Kinds of back pain

The most common type of back pain is lower back pain; after all, the lower back is where most of our movement occurs. Supporting our posture, bending, and twisting all require the lower back to work. That’s why when there’s a problem around that area, mobility is significantly reduced.

Inflammation of the sciatic nerve, also known as sciatica, is one of the most common causes of back pain. It’s usually characterized by pain starting from your lower back and radiating down one or both legs.

And then there’s the case of herniated disks. This problem occurs when the cushion between your vertebrae is swollen or ruptured. Sometimes, the swollen disc presses against your sciatic nerve, which makes your back pain even worse.

Other cases, such as sacroiliac joint pain or spinal stenosis, are more severe and require medical treatment. But regardless of whether your back pain is due to muscle strains or a severe musculoskeletal disorder, your bed can help you find relief. 

The Best Mattress for Sciatica

Do a cursory Google search and you’ll find scores of recommendations about the best mattress for sciatica. This information overload can quickly get overwhelming if you don’t know where to start.

Fortunately, all the articles about picking your ideal mattress for sciatica have these two tips in common:

1. Figure out your preferences

It’s your bed, so decide how you prefer your bed and stick with it. If a website tells you to get a firm mattress even though you know you can’t sleep in one, don’t do it. Your goal is to be comfortable, and only you know how to achieve that.

Keep in mind that some memory foam mattresses might prove to be too soft for you. Even though their body-conforming properties is their biggest strength, picking the wrong one can make your problems worse. If your mattress is too soft, then it’s not doing its job of supporting your body.

That said, don’t just completely throw away the article’s advice either. If you like soft beds but the recommendation is to get something firmer, see if you can get something in between. Staying comfortable while keeping your spine aligned should be your top priority.

2. Keep your back supported

Sleeping on too soft of a bed, even if it’s your main preference, can make your problems worse. If your body sinks on the mattress, your joints bear the pressure. More pressure equals more pain.

Sleeping with back pain usually requires you to keep your spine aligned correctly, so if your hips can’t sink then you’ll be in pain. You want a firm bed that can support your weight instead of resisting it.

The key is to sleep with a pillow or a rolled towel placed according to your preferred sleeping position. Back sleepers should place the pillow under the knees. On the other hand, side sleepers should put the pillow between the legs while keeping the “fetal position”.

And even though stomach sleeping is discouraged, placing a pillow under the pelvis to reduces pressure on the spine.

3. Check your pillows

Don’t forget about the pillows! They don’t just give your head a soft cushion; they also support your neck and shoulders. And if your neck and shoulders are well-supported, your spine is well-aligned.

Make sure you invest in pillows that not only feel soft but can also provide support. Cheaper pillows that have nothing but fluff go flat after a few nights, and that defeats the purpose.

And make sure you’re wary of gimmicky pillows that claim to do one thing or another. Always test them thoroughly so you don’t hurt yourself.

If one pillow feels too low for you, try getting a second one. Make sure you stagger the pillows – place one lower than the other. The lower pillow supports your cervical vertebrae (the neck region), while the higher pillow raises your head.

4. Take a warm bath or shower

Believe it or not, your mattress and your pillows are not the only ones that can help reduce your pain. Taking a warm bath soothes your muscles and promotes blood flow, which in turn facilitates quicker healing. Not only that, but you’ll also feel relaxed and refreshed right before bedtime. If a bath or shower is not an option, you can opt for a warm compress instead.

5. Reduce distractions

If your goal is to sleep comfortably despite your back pain, you need to make it your goal to fall asleep. Doctors advise to reduce extended bed rest during bouts of back pain, so laying on your bed while doing something else hurts you more.

Finish everything you need to do before going to bed, and don’t be tempted to read a book or check your phone one last time. 

Final thoughts

Keep in mind that back problems don’t go away overnight, so don’t be fooled into buying items explicitly labeled for sciatica. There’s no instant cure for back pain, but with proper treatment and self-care, you can reduce your symptoms and get a good night’s sleep.

Remember, the best mattress is the one that’s most comfortable for you.


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