People who suffer from chronic back pain know that it can impact every area of their lives — but often none as great as our sleep. Eight out of 10 Americans will suffer from back pain at some time in their lives, and most will never feel complete relief. Chronic back pain is a debilitating daily distraction that can damage your ability to work, play, and be healthy and happy — and a lack of sleep worsens all that. If you’re experiencing sleepless nights and you think chronic back pain may be to blame, here are four solutions you can try that may lead to relief.
Get a Better Mattress
An old, lumpy, and uncomfortable mattress could not only hurt your back, but it could also hurt your sleep. Having the right mattress can not only ease your aches during the day but also help you get longer, better rest at night. Of course, you have to look for the right mattress based on what type of sleeper you are (i.e., back, side, or stomach). Also think about the materials the mattress is made of, especially if you are prone to night sweats.
Start a Bedtime Routine
A regular bedtime ritual will help signal to your body that it is time to relax and fall asleep. It’s important that your bedtime routine starts at the same time so that eventually your body will naturally unwind and ease into sleep. Many people find successful sleep by using relaxation apps like Calm, Headspace, and Insight Timer. Not only do they calm the mind, but they can also help you push through physical pain. You can also listen to calming sounds and music to help you sleep—look for a pair of noise-canceling headphones to enhance your experience.
Sleep is the body’s natural recovery mode, so when you exercise regularly, your body sleeps easier and more deeply to rebuild and repair muscle tissue. In addition, numerous studies have shown that exercise can do wonders for alleviating chronic pain, especially in the back. You improve posture, build muscle tone, enhance strength, and boost endorphins and serotonin, both of which can help ease the pain. Some people may be worried that working out will exacerbate their pain, especially if it stems from an injury. Check with your doctor before starting a fitness program so you can address any concerns and get solid advice on what workouts to avoid.
Practice Myofascial Release
Using simple instruments like tennis balls and foam rollers, you can ease tensions in the mind and body through self-myofascial release. While stretching, use these tools to help target specific areas of tension. For example, while in a seated forward fold position, you can place the tennis balls under each thigh and roll back and forth. If you discover a spot that is extra tight, you can hang out there for a minute or two, letting the tennis balls and your bodyweight apply soothing pressure to these pressure points. There are also self-myofascial release practices for easing pain in the upper and lower back, around the shoulder blades, and along the spine.
Suffering from chronic back pain and a loss of sleep can lead to weight gain, irritability, reduced productivity at work, lethargy in relationships, and more serious health concerns. Fortunately, for many sufferers, this cycle of discomfort and often depression can be broken.