Many people don’t realize how many movements are supported by the back until back pain limits them. Everything from putting a coat on to lifting a laundry basket can become an excruciating, pain-filled task. Managing back pain can come in many different forms. But, there’s a simple way to gain an advantage over your pain that is often overlooked—sleep. Adequate sleep coupled with effective pain management methods can often bring relief and greater freedom of movement.
Sleep and Pain: More than a Casual Relationship
More pain leads to less sleep, but many people may not realize that the relationship goes the other way as well—less sleep leads to more pain. When the body doesn’t get the rest it needs, seven to nine hours for most adults, it cannot manage pain as effectively.
Lack of sleep is a common complaint from people with chronic pain issues. A study published in the journal Sleep found that a person’s pain threshold goes down significantly as time spent sleeping decreases. Another group of researchers found that getting eight hours of sleep increased pain tolerance by as much as 25 percent over someone who’d only gotten four hours of sleep.
Further studies have shown that lack of sleep reduces the effectiveness of pain medications, making it more important than ever to find natural and alternative methods for treating back pain. A dual approach that involves pain management and better sleep habits can be an effective way to regain mobility and return to an active life.
Manage Pain Before Bed
A consistent effort to address pain may require trying a few different treatments and methods before finding something that addresses individual needs. A few to consider include:
- Chiropractic Treatments: Chiropractors take into account medical history, lifestyle, and other factors to develop a treatment tailored to individual needs. Skeletal and muscular points of imbalance may be treated with spinal adjustments, exercises, or massage.
- Meditation: Meditation has been used for centuries to bring mind and body into balance. Practices like mindfulness meditation have been shown to reduce pain perception by limiting the anticipation of pain. Meditation also has the added benefit of improving sleep quality.
- Hot/Cold Therapy: Heat relaxes muscles while promoting blood flow to an injured or painful area. On the other hand, cold reduces swelling and numbs your pain. These simple home treatments can be done in the morning or before bed to reduce pain.
Develop Better Sleep Habits
Many daily habits and behaviors can come back to affect sleep quality. Healthy sleep habits can set the stage for better sleep success and less pain, including:
- Getting Comfortable: A mattress can make a big difference in comfort, especially when it comes to back pain. Medium-firm beds have been shown to help back pain, and many mattresses can be ordered online and delivered to your front door.
- A Consistent Sleep Schedule: Consistency allows the body to adjust to regular sleep patterns. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day helps the brain time the release of sleep hormones.
- Turn Off Technology: Electronic devices like smartphones and iPads can give off a bright blue light that suppresses sleep hormones. Some devices have a low light setting that can reduce blue light exposure while others will need to be turned off two to three hours before bed to prevent a delay in sleep onset.
Sleep is an important partner in reducing back pain. With rest as a priority, many people find they’re able to lead the active lifestyle they want.