Have you ever dreamed of a good night’s sleep?
Lower back pain is a major health condition for older people, and it can wreak havoc with our bed time routines. It’s estimated that over 80% of people with chronic back pain suffer from sleep problems, which can then aggravate inflammation, intensify sensitivity to pain and even contribute to depression.
Whilst it’s recommended that adults have 7-9 hours of sleep a night, the quality of our sleep can make a big impact; it’s essential that time is spent in both deep non-REM and REM stages of the sleep cycle, which is hard to reach for adults that wake up due to back pain.
However, there are plenty of easy ways to help get a better night’s sleep; from choosing the perfect new mattress to using relaxation techniques before bed. Take a look at some of our favourite techniques for a great night’s sleep…
The Right Mattress
Did you know you should replace your mattress every 8 years for optimum comfort? Have you checked what firmness you need? Research points to a medium-firm mattress to reduce chronic lower back pain, however a mattress is a personal choice. Depending on your sleep position, if there’s someone else in your bed, and how soft you like it, you need to pick the perfect firm rating for you.
Choose a mattress firmness that offers adequate support without creating pressure points; choosing one based on the way you sleep is a sure-fire way to choose the ideal one! Another factor to consider is your body mass index (BMI)- a light person will feel more comfortable on a soft mattress, whereas a heavier person would sink in. This is also something to think about if you sleep with a partner- if you require different firmness levels, a medium mattress is a great compromise.
Side sleepers usually prefer a softer mattress to conform to pressure points in shoulders and hips, as well as preventing numb arms. Stomach sleepers should generally choose a firmer mattress to support their hip and pelvis pressure. Finally, back sleepers can choose from the whole spectrum of firmness as pressure is spread evenly across the body. If back sleepers are still unsure, they should go for a medium mattress.
Is an orthopaedic mattress right for you? We know these are extra supportive, but firm or extra firm orthopaedic mattresses aren’t ideal for everyone. These mattresses are ideal for those that sink into a standard mattress, where softer mattresses put the spine out of shape and further back problems. The even weight distribution of an orthopaedic mattress is clinically proven to help reduce aches and pains, so may be perfect for long term back pain sufferers.
We all have our favourite sleeping positions, but putting pillows in different places could actually work to our advantage! Side sleepers should place a pillow between their knees to help spinal alignment, and back sleepers should have their knees slightly elevated by a pillow.
Loosen Back Muscles
Doctors often provide people with back pain with a set of stretches and workouts to relieve tension and strengthen the back; the perfect time to do this could be just before bed! Stretching out your back could release muscle tension and stop your back from seizing up as quickly, and heat therapy relieves and stretches soft tissues around the spine.
If there’s something that helps you unwind before bed, make sure you do it when your back is feeling particularly achy. Focused breathing, a delicious bedtime tea or mindful meditation can relax and reduce the perception of pain enough to fall asleep. Alternatively, an unwinding bath will help you nod off whilst relaxing your muscles, and stretches them out with the heat.
Do you have any tips for people trying to sleep? Leave them in the comments below for others to leave!