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5 Tips to Sleep Better with Back Pain

Jan 10, 2014

Back pain is one of the leading causes of disability across the globe, according to the 2010 Global Burden of Disease Study. In fact, researchers estimate that 80 percent of individuals will suffer from significant back pain at some point in their lives. This causes Americans to spend an estimated $50 billion on time lost from work, medical care, prescription pain medications and workers compensation payments each year, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. One of the most frequent complaints made by those suffering from back pain is the lack of a good night's sleep. Fortunately, simple lifestyle changes can dramatically improve your ability to sleep well with back pain, and get back to being productive at work.

Invest in a High-quality Mattress

Unfortunately, there is no magic mattress that alleviates back pain. Ultimately, the decision on what mattress to buy depends on your personal preference. Spine Health reports that a medium to firm mattress may be the most beneficial for reducing chronic back pain. If your mattress is too firm, adding a foam mattress topper can increase the comfort. Mattresses are said to last eight years, so it is important to keep up on switching them out when the time comes.

Two of the best mattresses that I personally recommend for those who suffer with back pain are the Memory Foam Mattresses and the Q3 Natural Latex Mattress. Both these mattresses provide superior support and ample comfort.

Employ Good Sleep Posture

The way you lie down for a snooze may affect your back pain. According to TruContour, a side-sleeping position is best for your spine. Unlike sleeping on your stomach or back, side sleeping allows your spine to stay in its natural 'S' shape. Placing a small pillow between your knees may further reduce spinal stress, alleviating pain.

Lying on your back is also an acceptable position. For those who love to sleep on their stomachs, experts warn to steer clear. Stomach sleeping causes the back to arch unnaturally, placing pressure on the spine and exacerbating back pain.

Safely Enter and Exit Your Bed

Simply plopping down on your bed may be tempting after a long day of work, but it can further stress your back. Instead, take a “log roll†approach. Sit down on the edge of your bed, gently lowering your back onto the bed while swinging your legs upward. Then, roll into a side or back sleeping position. Use the opposite approach when getting up in the morning. This minimizes stress on your spine and prevents you from wrenching your back.

Talk to Your Doctor About Pain Medications

Many individuals suffering from back problems take prescription pain medications. Although these medications are effective painkillers, they can be habit forming and may disrupt your natural sleep cycle. Talk to your physician about alternatives to prescription pain medications. For example, Laser Spine Institute, a network of five back and neck surgery centers across the country, recommends consulting a specialist about the underlying anatomical or physiological problems causing your back pain. This allows you to identify treatment approaches, such as physical therapy or surgery, which address the root causes of back pain.

Establish a Bedtime Routine

If you are used to tossing and turning every night because of debilitating pain, bedtime is no fun at all. Establishing a nightly bedtime ritual helps your body naturally adjust to sleeping. For example, take a bath 30 minutes before bedtime or drink a cup of green tea to relax. Avoid eating heavily, drinking alcohol or watching TV, all activities that make it more challenging to get to sleep.


  • lower back pain