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Waking Up with Back Pain?

Tips to Help You Sleep Better and Prevent Back Pain

Q:  Every morning, I wake up with severe pain and stiffness in my back and neck. The pain generally wears off as the day wears on, but it’s very bothersome at the start of the day. Could I be sleeping incorrectly? How can I make sure that I sleep right to prevent neck and back pain?

We spend approximately one third of each day sleeping, as it is an essential part of life. If we’re going to spend a third of the day sleeping, it should be a time to relax painlessly and prepare for a new day.

Sadly, sleeping can be an uncomfortable situation for some people, and it can be a cause of back and neck pain. Thankfully, there are several steps you can take to ensure you are sleeping correctly to prevent neck and back pain.

Tip #1:  How You Sleep Is Important

First, make sure you’re sleeping in a position that is conducive to maintaining the natural curves of your spine. Specifically, do not sleep on your stomach. Stomach sleeping can cause neck pain and headaches upon waking, and places your spine in an unnatural position.

Try to sleep on either your side or back. If you’re a side sleeper, place a pillow between your knees. If you sleep on your back, it may help to place a pillow underneath your knees. Placing the pillow between and underneath your knees gives your spine the best chance of maintaining its natural curves while you sleep.

Tip #2:  Check Your Bed Set-up

Next, make sure you’re equipped with the proper sleeping supplies. For example, it’s difficult to find a pillow that properly supports your neck. Most feather pillows don’t provide adequate neck support, which can cause neck soreness even if you are sleeping in the recommended side and back positions.

If you find yourself awaking with neck pain or headaches despite sleeping on your back or side, it is likely that you need a cervical pillow. A cervical pillow is specifically designed to support the natural curves of your neck while you sleep and places your neck in its desired, natural position. Cervical pillows are designed for side and back sleepers, but make it difficult to sleep on your stomach, which is an added perk to using it.

It is also important to make sure you’re using the correct mattress. There is a link between the type of mattress people use and associated back pain. People who use a medium-firm mattress have less back pain compared to people who use mattresses classified as too firm or too soft.

In addition, research indicates that you should purchase a new mattress every 10 years if you want to ensure your mattress isn’t the cause of your back pain. Mattresses that are 10 years old and beyond are shown to be a possible cause of back pain while you sleep.

Tip #3:  The Right Way to Get Out of Bed

Lastly, make sure you are getting out bed properly. Unfortunately, the majority of people will sit up, twist their back to prepare to get into a standing position, and use their back to stand. This method is incorrect.

The proper way to exit a bed upon waking is to roll onto your side and use your arm to push up from the side-lying position. From this position, scoot to the very edge of the bed and get up using your legs, not your back.

Sleeping shouldn’t be painful. It should be a time to relax. Implementing these aforementioned suggestions is a great way to decrease pain while you sleep and increase your odds of having a great night’s rest.

Updated on: 01/11/13
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