The spine is one of the most important parts of the complicated, living, machine that is our body. And yet it is one of the most abused parts.
We set ourselves up for spinal misalignment, back strain, sprains and so much more with the terrible posture we have thanks to the number of hours we spend hunched up at our desks in front of computers. Not to mention the careless sleeping positions we adopt.
How can you make sure that the sun doesn't rise on another day filled with agonizing back pain?
Simply, start by sleeping right. The way you walk and sit probably need correction too but hey, one step at a time. These are some of the things that you should pay attention to for the benefit of your back.
You must not focus solely on your back muscles or nerves. Instead, see your lifestyle and its impact on your body as a system. Just a few tweaks in your lifestyle can soothe the condition. Check How:
The type of mattress on your bed plays a significant role in the kind of support your spine gets during all those hours of shut-eye during the night. A too-soft mattress will not provide adequate support – you'll find your body sinking in (like in quicksand), and after a while, your back will begin to ache.
The other extreme is a too-firm mattress that really doesn't allow any flexibility to your spine and back. It can feel your back muscles feeling sore and stiff, and cause extra pain in sensitive pressure points - almost like you spent the night on a granite slab.
According to the American Chiropractic Association, a mattress of medium firmness is the best. However, it's also been found that “the right” firmness is subjective so what works for you may not work for someone else.
If your current mattress isn't giving you a good night's sleep, it may be time to go shopping. The same is also true for your pillow. Get a pillow designed for back sleeping. As you test each one, do a mental check to see if you can feel any uncomfortable pressure points or if your body is sagging in places.
There are those who sleep curled up like a fetus and those who sleep straight as a board. There are yet others who sleep on their tummies (you know the kind, with an arm and possibly half a leg hanging off the bed). Unfortunately, not all of them have equal impact on the health of your back. There is such a thing as a right position to sleep in. Here are the most common sleeping positions in order of best support for your spine, and hence the minimum chance of a backache in the morning.
a) Sleeping on your back
This is the most recommended sleep position for your back, providing a neutral alignment for your neck and spine. One thing though – don't sleep like a soldier standing at attention, with your legs stretched out straight ahead. It can create some tension in your lower back and hips and pushes your spine into a mildly uncomfortable alignment. Try putting a small pillow or rolled-up towel under your knees to relieve the stress on your spine by allowing it to rest in its natural curve.
Though the commonest sleeping position, this one is second best for support to your spine. To make it more supportive and relieve stress on your hips and lower back, put a pillow between your knees and also bend them slightly. Also make sure that the pillow height is such that your neck is straight and on the same level as your spine, or else you may wake up with a crick.
Try not to curl up too tightly (fetal style) or you will definitely have a killer backache in the morning.
Just to be clear, this position is NOT for the health of your back. It takes away the support from your lower back, putting strain on the muscles in that area as well as your spine itself. On top of that, your neck and shoulders are also under some level of strain in this position.
However, old habits die hard, and there may be those of you who cannot fall asleep in any other way. For such people, you can make things a little better by choosing a good stomach sleeper pillow, thus giving some support to your body.
What you do during the day can also be at fault. If you misuse the muscles of your back or don't keep them toned and strengthened, you can end up with a backache in spite of having the best mattress and sleeping position in the world. A few important things to take care of:
If you suffer from back pain on a regular basis, following these general guidelines should make a difference in the quality of your life.
If you're doing everything right, and you still suffer a lot of discomforts, it may be time to get it checked out by a doctor – your back pain may also be caused by more serious underlying issues with your spine or the discs between your vertebrae.
So say hello to restful nights and pain-free days and goodbye to hours of squirming to find a comfortable position in your chair, getting up frequently to relieve the pain, and in general just wishing for the day to be over. Back pain, back off!
I am a big advocate that having great sleep is something everyone deserves. With over 10 years of experience in this field, I would love to use this platform as a means to help you achieve a good night's sleep.