Living with chronic pain can be exhausting. The difficulties in falling and staying asleep just exacerbate the problem, leaving you even more worn out and overtired. Getting enough sleep, following a well-regulated fitness and exercise routine, and physical therapy can help reduce lower back pain and help you sleep more deeply for longer.
While in general you’ll want to seek out a position that puts as little strain on the muscles of the lower back as possible, the fetal position, in which the sleeper lays on their side with their knees tucked up and the spine curved forward may be most comfortable for patients with a herniated or bulging disc. The position draws the spine out, releasing pressure on an aggravated disc and may provide some relief from the pressure and inflammation causing the pain.
On Your Back
Some sleepers prefer to lie flat on their backs. If this is your preferred position, use a small pillow to support the knees. If there is a gap between your lower back and the mattress, consider using another small pillow to add extra support for the lower back. The idea is to maintain the natural curvature of the spine as closely as possible.
On Your Side
When sleeping on your side, place a small pillow between your knees to help align the spine to its natural curve. Avoid sleeping on the same side every night, which can lead to an increase in back strain. Choosing to change sides occasionally helps distribute the load across the muscles of the lower back and avoids strain.
Should I Replace My Mattress?
If your mattress has developed a sag or dip, it’s time for a new mattress. While you may find tips online like sliding a piece of plywood under your mattress, the best solution is to simply replace a worn-out mattress. Visit your local mattress store and test mattresses for at least 15 minutes to see if they produce fatigue in your back muscles or offer solid support of the spine. Taking good care of your back leads to less pain down the road, and helps contribute to a better night’s sleep.