Back pain triggers sleepless nights

In the depths of winter, the long dark nights can often seem never-ending. For many of us, January is the perfect to take advantage of the longer nights by catching up on some sleep after the busy festive period.

While we sleep, we expect our bodies to restore themselves, leaving us feeling more refreshed when we wake in the morning. However, new research from the British Chiropractic Association has found this isn’t always the case.

A third of Brits complain that either sleep or their mattress is triggering their back pain, and those hitting middle age are finding it the most difficult to nod off, with over half admitting that back pain keeps them from sleeping. Additionally, one in eight in this age group said they wake up with back or neck pain every day.

This could be because, as we age, our bodies start to see the cumulative effect of years of poor posture, which can, in turn, lead to back pain. For many, this pain is triggered by sleep. There are a number of ways you can counteract this though, to help stop sleep from becoming a painful experience. Here are seven tips to help you catch those zzz’s, if back and neck pain is getting in the way of a good night’s sleep this winter.

1. Find your ideal sleeping position

You should ideally sleep on your side, so your neck doesn’t twist. This reduces the amount of physical stress on the back. Try to keep your spine parallel to the mattress in a straight line.

2. Update your mattress regularly.

Mattresses should be replaced at least every 7-10 years, as they become less supportive over time. If you can feel the springs, or the mattress is no longer level, these are signs that the mattress is getting too old. The bed itself can also lose support over time, and will need replacing if it starts to slump.

3. Buy the right mattress

Everyone has different mattress requirements – a 16 stone person will need a different level of support to a 10 stone person. When lying on your side, your spine should stay parallel to the mattress. If your spine drops, the mattress is too soft, and if it bows, the mattress is too hard. If sharing a bed, look for two single mattresses which can be linked together to ensure that you both get the support that you need.

4. Get your pillow right

Your pillow should be positioned so that your neck is a continuation of your spine. If your pillow is too high or too low, your neck will be placed at an angle as you sleep.

5. Stretch it out

Sudden movements first thing in the morning can be a shock to the body. It’s important to wake your body up slowly – light stretches are a great way to start the day.

6. Sleep alone

If your partner moves around a lot in the night, they could be aggravating your back condition. It may be a good idea to try separate beds for a while to see if this alleviates the pain.

7. Turn the tech off at bedtime

Using technology in bed can be damaging, as your neck isn’t supported when looking down at a screen. The weight of your head leaning forward will put pressure on your back, which may cause back or neck pain. If you do use your mobile devices in bed, try to prop them up at eye level so you don’t have to look down.

Tim Hutchful
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