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How to Sleep with Lower Back Pain Using These 13 Tips

How to Sleep with Lower Back Pain Using These 13 Tips

Your clock began with just a blink of how late it had gotten. Now, it screams at you that the night is far underway. Yet, there you remain – awake and still uncomfortable.

Perhaps, you had just barely begun to doze when the pain unfairly awakened you. Sleeping with lower back pain is not always as easy as just lying down and closing your eyes. You must plan ahead for a proper – and enjoyable – night’s sleep.

Preparing your mind and body for rest is just as important as preparing your sleeping space.

So how to sleep with lower back pain?

Let us help you figure out a few alterations that may help you sleep better tonight. From that, you will be more equipped to choose which tips will most benefit you.

Where to Start?

It is no secret that exercise, food, and rest each have a balance that is required for general health. Creating an environment in which you can relax is imperative for minimizing tension. So, how can you do this if your body is in pain?

If a back injury has been sustained, the first step is to ensure that the source of the pain has been eliminated or is under review. If you are aware of an injury, it is best to ensure that proper care is received for the best chance of a timely and effective recovery.

If you are uncertain what may have caused the pain, speak with a medical professional to determine what may be needed for recovery.

How to Sleep Better Tonight

What can you do at home to help work through some of the pain for a better night’s sleep? Perhaps, it is already bedtime and you are just now realizing that pain from the day has begun to settle into your lower back. What can you do to get through tonight? What can you do to be ready for tomorrow night…and the next night?

Let’s look at some new ideas for sleeping with lower back pain. Find a couple that you want to try first. Combine them, mix them up, and find out what works for you. Alternate some of the options to keep it interesting. Be sure to incorporate any information given to you by your chiropractic doctor.

Take one or two nights with each of these 13 sleeping tips for lower back pain. Decide which ones help you the most. Feel free to adjust each concept to your lifestyle and physical needs.

1. Recognize the Power of Your Brain

The human brain is an incredible tool for directing what happens throughout the body. Pain signals are sent to the thalamus telling us that pain is present.[1]

What does the brain do? It sends a signal telling our hand to, “Move! There is something beneath your hand that is too hot for your skin to handle!” How do we respond? We yank our hand into the air, “Ouch! I’m not sitting on that park bench!”

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Why is it important to understand the brain’s power? Recognizing that the pain is part of the brain’s alert system can help us see that something isn’t as it should be within the body. This is especially important for us as humans because we cannot feasibly walk around with an MRI or X-Ray machine and constantly take stock of our insides. Pain signals take care of this for us. They act as an alert system that can help stop us from causing further damage.

Does that mean that we have to like the pain? Of course not! We can, however, take the messages from those pain signals and use them to help direct us to a reasonable recovery.

Will we always get rid of all pain all the time? That depends on the cause for the pain and what steps are taken to minimize its source, as well as any underlying conditions that may require medical attention.

Will crashing on a snowboard be automatically healed simply by recognizing the pain? Nope – but rather than going along day by day in hopes that the pain will subside magically on its own, recognizing the pain’s presence is a great first step.

2. Understand the Relationship Between Pain and Tension

Pain and tension have a closer relationship than we might realize. You may even hold your breath to avoid sending movement through your body in times of great pain.

Helping tight, tense, and sore muscles to relax release the tension held in them can help get you on the way to feeling better faster.

If an injury is present, we may easily compensate for the pain by using other muscles more. Holding tension in one portion of the body to avoid pain puts greater strain on the surrounding muscles.

Chronic pain can easily find its way into your life through stress and tension that is not dispensed with regularly.[2] Pain is often increased by our desire to resist its presence on our bodies. You may find that the pain becomes greater with a lack of sleep. An ache may start small and become progressive with little or no sleep.

3. Be Warm, Not Hot or Cold – Especially During Sleep

The human body shivers to gain warmth when it is cold. This brings tension to the muscles. We may not even realize this added tension until warmth is regained.

If pain is present and muscle tension is increased, we risk further stressing the neuromuscular system. Our nerve endings can detect changes in temperature.[3]

Not only does this take them away from their job as pain signal devices in the body, it also alerts them that an adjustment should be made. Allowing the body to stay cold for long periods during the day can cause the body to retain unnecessary tension, which may increase pain.

Sleeping too hot can simply make us uncomfortable and prevent sufficient REM sleep. Tossing and turning because your body is trying to dispense heat does not help you eliminate back pain while sleeping. Rather, it can put increased stress on your body during the time when it is meant to be recovering.

4. Try Not to Procrastinate: Understand that Hard Work Deserves a Break

Allow yourself to rest and rejoice after working hard. Try not to push a task to the end of its time. Plan to work hard and then take a break. Schedule breaks into undesirable endeavors – and then allow yourself to enjoy those breaks.

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Why is this important for lower back pain? Back pain is often the result of overworked muscles. If an injury has occurred in the past or if you are seeking to recover and avoid chronic back pain, you need to let your muscles take a break.

If your mind is geared to finish a task but you find that your body is not willing, planned break times might help you feel as though you are still on task.

Break bigger projects up into separate days. Enlist the help of a relative or neighbor and enjoy the scheduled break together. Why is this important for sleeping with pain?

If you can work to minimize or eliminate pain before it gets underway, you are less likely to be troubled by pain as you sleep.

5. Create a Balance in Your Body

Recognize the work your lower back does to help the rest of your body. Try to take some of the stress off of your lower back by treating your body as a complete unit. We do not mean that you must fill your time with crunches or a complicated weightlifting regimen.

Simply, your body will heal itself more efficiently if it is permitted to function as a unit. When you rest, it is time to allow your body to relax and rejuvenate itself from the interior – all the way through your extremities. Yes, over time working on core muscles can help with lower back pain. Thinking about intense workout procedures while you are in pain may not be so desirable.

Instead, choose a few stretches or yoga poses that can help your body relax and function more efficiently. Choose positions that bring you joy and do not cause pain. You might be a bit uncomfortable if you have not tried stretching techniques for lower back pain – but the rewards are amazing once you get the hang of it!

6. Work to Clear Your Mind

Fixating on your lower back pain will not help you rest or heal. Find activities that help you separate the pain you experienced during the day from your sleeping routine. In the evening, enjoy a favorite book. Go for a walk outside. Play with the kids – make a mess!

Find something that makes you laugh! Take your mind off of the pain as much as you can a few hours before it is time to put your head on your pillow. Clear your mind of anything that distracts you from joy.

7. Focus on Your Breathing Patterns

Breathing is something that our bodies naturally do by design. We often simply do not realize that we are taking in oxygen and dispensing carbon dioxide.

However, if an event takes place and we are not permitted to complete this basic physical task, we won’t live long.

Focusing on the body’s ability to be so completely amazing is a wonderful way in which we can divert our attention from pain.

8. Meditate as You Prepare to Sleep

Meditating for a better night’s rest can increase your ability to rest comfortably. While taking a moment to ponder and reflect at any time of day may be helpful, taking a moment to decompress shortly before sleep offers another level of relaxation.

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Similar to a focus on your breathing, find something else for your brain to interact with as you lie in bed attempting to sleep. Plan to enjoy a few moments in your preferred sleep position as you allow your eyes and ears to interact with something that calms you.

You may find these night time meditation techniques beneficial:

  • Select a night light that slowly dims up and down. Enjoy watching the color(s) change as you prepare your mind for sleep. Ensure that the light shown does not become bright enough to alert your ‘daytime’ thinking. Blues and greens are best if available.
  • Look out of your window and watch the sky, a storm, or the trees blowing.
  • Listen to the sounds of your home. What do you hear? Wind rustling outside?
  • Place an interesting image that glows in the dark on your ceiling. Observe how this image is shaped or designed. What do you appreciate about the image?
  • Enjoy a projection night light that throws your favorite design onto the wall or ceiling. Some children’s night lights offer fun cartoon images, too!
  • If you prefer having your eyes closed, consider listening to your favorite calming music for a few moments. Listen to the words, and focus on trying to hear phrases you may have missed in the past. If you prefer to listen to sounds without words, classical music, ocean sounds, or rustling river sounds may be preferred. Try to follow the sounds with your mind.

With this many meditation ideas, it will take several days to try them all! Be sure to allow your body to relax during this time.

Once you feel somewhat comfortable in bed, begin with whatever technique you have chosen for that night. The idea is to distance your mind from the day you just enjoyed (or endured).

Getting started is often the most difficult part. You may desire to set a timer if your chosen technique utilizes technology. Set it for 30 minutes and adjust up or down as desired the next evening.

Meditation is also a wonderful way to work through pain that may arise overnight. Be mindful of the sleeping habits of others. You may want to think ahead and have one of the techniques ‘ready to activate’ in case you do wake up from back pain and are unable to sleep.

9. Discover What Actions or Positions Cause or Increase Pain

You may already be well aware of what positions are the most and least painful for sleeping with lower back pain. However, have you tried really relaxing as you search for comfortable positions? Moving around trying to find comfort can easily cause temporary tension in your muscles.

Choose a position that is moderately comfortable, and take the time to breathe in and out 8 to 10 times without moving from that position. Give your muscles time to dissipate the tension in them.

Releasing tension from overworked muscles can be hard at first. Give yourself time to feel the difference in how your lower back responds to the decrease in tension.

You may or may not need to dramatically alter your preferred sleeping position. If you prefer to sleep on your side, simply place a pillow between your knees to align your spine.

Back sleeper? Ensure that your back is supported by your sleeping surface so that it does not bow and cause your muscles to strain overnight. You might prefer a pillow under your knees. Stomach sleepers may benefit from placing a pillow at or just above the hips for added support.

Many people simply do not realize the importance of their pillow for lower back pain. Too thick or too thin, your pillow may place your spine into a position that creates too much pressure on your lower back.[4] Choose a pillow that places your head in alignment with your spine.

10. Understand How Proper Support Helps the Lower Back While Sleeping

Be prepared to adjust your sleeping position a few times each night. Your spine contains sections that permit you to bend and move as you direct. The ability to twist and contort is a wonderful feature if you must reach something on a shelf. When you sleep, your body still retains the same ability for movement.

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As you lie down, your body conforms to the space on which you place it. Shoulders and hips tend to push into the surface beneath you. Your middle may curve too far pulling your back muscles into a position that creates undue stress on your spine and back muscles.[5]

If this is the case for any length of time, your lower back is likely to complain to your brain, “Help, I’m having trouble completing what you are asking me to do while your body is asleep! I can’t do this anymore. I need support down here!”

11. Decide Not to Utilize a Mobile Device if Awake Due to Pain

The light projected directly into our eyes from a device with backlighting can trick our brains into thinking that daylight is present. Why is this important? If you are awakened by lower back pain and wish to return to sleep, telling your body that morning is close does not give your brain a true perspective of your need for rest.

A mobile device may help take your mind off of the pain for a time – but it will not be the best thing for returning to dreamland.

If you really must read something, consider a few moments with an old school flashlight and paper.[6] Then, perhaps, focus on your breathing, meditate, stretch in bed, or adjust your sleeping position accordingly. (Be sure not to awaken your sleeping partner.)

12. Consider How External Factors Play a Role

Is something, in addition to lower back pain, causing you to be awake (e.g., caffeine, stress, particular unpleasant sounds)? If so, include changes to those matters in your preparations for sleep.

Are there external factors that add to your lower back pain (e.g., work requirements, exercise choices, yardwork, childcare considerations)? Existing pain will not likely diminish if the situation that caused it still exists in your life.

You may find that once you remove some of the sleep inhibitors, it will be easier for your body to allow you to sleep in spite of any remaining lower back pain.

13. Inquire with a Musculoskeletal Expert

Work with your chiropractor to determine the source of your lower back pain. Medical imaging can be done to ensure that possible injuries are properly assessed. From that, you and your chiropractor can work to set a goal for an efficient recovery. Receiving care as early as possible is beneficial for helping to avoid chronic back pain.

If your back pain has already been present for some time, your body may have begun to heal and simply is not able to properly tell your brain that the major injury itself is no longer present. Chiropractic care works to realign joints so that nerves can more efficiently send communications to the brain.

In opposition, you may be experiencing pain symptoms that mean your body still retains an injury and needs healing. Not sure what chiropractic care does for lower back pain? Chiropractic care seeks to find the source of pain and eliminate it from within the musculoskeletal and neuromuscular systems in the body.[7]

Finding Your Next Step

Which tips will you try this evening? Consider observing your breathing, meditating, and clearing your mind at various times throughout the day.

Releasing tension as we encounter it is beneficial for muscles, joints, and nerves. Do what you can to minimize the effects of stress and potential injury during your waking hours.

As evening approaches, be willing to let go of the day and focus on sleeping pain-free

More Resources About Back Pain Relief

Featured photo credit: Leighann Renee via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Dr. Brent Wells, D.C.

Chiropractic doctor currently leading over 10,000 Alaskans to more active, pain-free lifestyles โ€“ without addictive drugs or invasive surgeries.

Simple Hacks on How to Relieve Neck Pain Fast (and Naturally) 7 Best Lower Back Stretches for Relieving Pain 12 Causes of Lower Right Back Pain (And How to Relieve It) 12 Best Back Strengthening Exercises to Relieve Lower Back Pain How to Sleep with Lower Back Pain Using These 13 Tips

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

More About Working From Home

Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

Reference

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