One of those unfortunate signs of getting older is waking up stiff and sore. If you typically experience back pain from “sleeping funny” or even when sleeping in what should be a comfortable bed, there are things you can do ensure that you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to start the day, not in pain and searching for an ice pack.
The Cause of Back Pain While Sleeping
Your sleep-induced back pain is likely caused by a misalignment of your spine. Most of us don’t have perfect posture and our activities throughout the day can begin to tighten muscles in our backs that result in pain while we sleep.
For example, sitting all day can cause the muscles in the hips to tighten, leading to an over-curvature of the spine around the lower back. Or slouching might cause the muscles in the shoulders to tighten, resulting in pain in the upper back.
Certain sleeping positions can exacerbate this tightness. The fetal position that many of us find most comfortable tends to introduce more curvature to the spine and too much straightness to the legs.
Sleeping on the back can cause the lower back to arch. Sleeping on the stomach can push the hips back, leading again to curvature of the lower back. All of this stress on the spine and surrounding muscles can lead to tightness and pain upon waking up or even during the night.
Solving Your Back Pain Problems
Luckily, there are a few simple fixes for back pain caused by sleep, with only a few minor adjustments to your usual sleeping position. More often than not, people with chronic back pain find that a modified back position is the best for pain-free sleep.
That’s because you can easily support your spine and neck and put even amounts of stress on both sides of your body.
The first step is to use a thin pillow, or even a folded towel, instead of a stack of pillows that over-elevates your head. This reduces strain on your neck. Then, place another pillow under your knees. This eases some of the strain on your lower back.
If you have trouble sleeping on your back, there are other options for avoiding back pain. If you prefer sleeping on your stomach, for example, placing a thin pillow under your hips can reduce pressure on your spine.
Likewise, if you prefer to sleep on your side in the fetal position, putting a pillow between your knees ensures that one side of your hip is not being pulled down.Sign up for our FREE daily newsletter.
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Prevent Back Pain During the Day
Ultimately, it’s not just about how you sleep. Your posture and activity during the day has a significant effect on muscles that may wind up feeling sore no matter what position you sleep in.
During the day, focus on maintaining good posture at work and taking frequent breaks to get up and stretch.
This might mean the difference between waking up feeling like you need a visit to a massage therapist and getting out of bed ready to take on the day.