Sleeping and back pain

It is obvious, that there can be no sleep, when your back hurts like hell and you can’t fall asleep without taking painkillers, or drinking a whole bottle of wine, which may ease the pain, but may also help you to become an alcoholic.

If this is your case, refer to my article on Acute Back Pain.

What I would like to discuss with you, is the case where your back is not perfect and you may have occasional back or neck pain.

You may be waking up aching and it takes time to get going or you may have a slight headache in the morning which only eases after a hot shower and a cup of coffee.

You maybe get tired quickly and feel depressed, because of general feeling of weakness and fatigue. You may under-perform at work and can’t wait until the day is over. Add to this, elbow and wrist pains, “pins and needles”, numbness, knee and hip pain and you get a picture of a chronic back pain sufferer.

You may say, that you don’t have chronic back pain, there is only an occasional “twinge” or “pull” or stiffness. This is because your body is a great conspirator and is very good at hiding your problems from you. Remember – good back shouldn’t EVER hurt at all! Therefore, if you have any of these symptoms above – you must be concerned that your body may become tired compensating for back problems and they will get much worse.

Let me kindly remind you, that your back is not only a main support for your internal organs and the rest of your body, but also carries and protects the network of nerves, which are the one and only communication system between your central computer (the brain) and your body.

There is nothing happening in your body without command and control from your brain through the nerves.

The reason for concern is only one – if you do not keep your spine in perfect condition, it deteriorates (wear and tear) very quickly, because lack of movement is followed by weakness and insufficient lubrication of the spinal joints. This is The “Scary” Arthritis – the verdict your doctor gave you, when you went to see him with back or neck pain 5 or 10 years ago. If you are reading this now, you still have this problem, because you have already read 5 paragraphs.

Would you bother otherwise?

What your doctor didn’t tell you, is that if you maintain your back’s flexibility and strength, the wear and tear would slow down to the minimum level and your pain would dramatically decrease. All the functions of your body would be at their possible best.

Your car is the best example. You can drive your car without servicing, changing oil or filters for many years, except one day it will give up on you and break down totally. If you service it on time, it will serve you many years without any problems at all.

We are often asked: “How come I have so much back pain and my neighbour (or friend) doesn’t have any?”

Depending on your past life trauma, amount and type of exercise, your work conditions and your inherited strength and ability to heal, you may have arrived to the present moment with minimum pain and damage or if you are less fortunate your back took more damage and is not recovered and repaired enough, so you are in a lot of pain.

Diet, nutrition and amount of liquid you consume also plays a major role.

  • Just like a better car, your spine may have started out at a better quality from birth and has been able to take more damage, and it may have been driven (used) more carefully and serviced on time. Therefore it’s in a better condition today.
  • If your back is not as strong and you abused it a lot in the past, it may suffered more damage and this is why you are in much more pain and are still reading this.

In both cases, it needs service ASAP!

A “better” back will need less service and the worse one will need more service and care. If you deny your spine the required service, it will eventually break down and require some major interventions (injections or surgery?), because simple servicing won’t be enough.

Wait! You thought this article was about sleeping, and if you are still on this page, you have probably guessed where I’m going.

When you are asleep, your sleep goes through phases, from shallow to deep. If nothing disturbs your nervous system – you will be falling deeper and deeper into the world of sleep, your body will rest and repair more and more, and you will be most likely to wake up refreshed and rested and a good day at work will follow!

However, if you tend to turn and move during the night many times and if these turns are uncomfortable or painful to your body, your sleep will be superficial, and although you may not wake up in pain, you will feel tired in the morning. Your body will not repair itself as well and the brain won’t rest.

Thus to follow – another tiring and frustrating day at work.

Imagine sleeping in a noisy environment, or if somebody is constantly poking you with a stick all night. This is how you are going to feel when your brain is being bombarded by the signals of pain coming from your spine and the rest of your body all night long.

Chiropractors believe, that when your spine is not moving properly, the spinal nerves which manage the body can’t perform very well, this is why you feel worse in the morning. During the day when you are on the move, your spine is moving better and therefore nerves have more space and you feel better. When you in bed, the joints which are “stuck” move even less and may affect nerves even more and that’s when your symptoms get worse. This is why “pins and needles”, numbness and pain may wake you up at night or bother you in the morning.

And of course, when nervous system is not at its best, because the spinal joints are swollen and agitated, most of your body organs and systems will suffer from lack of management and nutrition which supposed to come from perfectly functioning nerves.

Get your back right and you will sleep better, age slower and have a happier life. Wellness chiropractor will show you the way.

We always ask our patients about the quality of their sleep when we examine them on their first visit. We tend to find, that their sleep often improves during the course of treatment, as they regain their spine’s flexibility and strength.

Can’t fall asleep with pain?

It is difficult to fall asleep when your back is hurting. It is good to have a good mattress and a pillow which supports your head in the midline of your body when you are sleeping on your back or the side. I describe a perfect pillow and a good mattress here.

Some of our patients find that it is easier to fall asleep with the pillow between their knees, that seems to take some pressure off their spinal joints and that speeds up the recovery.

Best sleeping posture!

We are always asked about best sleeping position. Sleeping on the back is the healthiest option as the gravity acts down to flatten your back which is basically the opposite of what you been doing all day long – slouching. If you measure your hight in the evening and after a good night sleep, you will find that you are actually taller in the morning, as your spinal disks are re-hydrated and the spine is stretched. In the evening you will be a little shorter because of the gravity and poor posture increasing the curves of the spine and de-hydrating the discs. Sleeping on the back not only straightening the spine reducing the slouching posture but helps re-alignment as you are not twisting or turning and gravity is evening out the tension around postural muscles.

There are of course, few conditions to better sleep:

1. Good mattress, which is hard enough underneath to provide good support and soft enough on the surface to be comfortable

2. Good pillow wich supports your head and the neck in the midline of your body and is soft enough to enjoy.

3. If your back is hurting you may need to put a pillow or a rolled blanket under your bend knees and if it doesn’t help, find position where it doesn’t hurt.

People who suffer with excessive kyphosis (roundback or over-curvature of the thoracic spine) are advised to lie on their backs on the roll of the soft towel to slow down the progression of the curve. The roll is positioned in the middle along the spine and this is advised to be done daily for 5-10 minutes and preferably in the evenings. This sparkled the idea of Posture Pole and other devices to help you to fight rounded shoulders and curved back. Most of them are very useful if used on a regular basis (daily).

Good night!