It doesn’t seem fair, but back pain and poor quality of sleep really do go hand in hand. Struggling with back pain can make sleep feel impossible, and insufficient sleep exacerbates back pain in a truly vicious cycle. Here are two reasons for the bad sleep/bad back link, and what you can do to improve your chances for better sleep.
POOR SLEEP MAY AFFECT PAIN TOLERANCE
Insufficient sleep may affect your ability to tolerate pain. That was the finding in a small study that compared two groups. One group had participants who had slept a full eight hours, while the other group’s participants slept only four. Researchers asked the study participants to hold their fingers over a heat source as long as they could. Those who had slept for the longer timeframe withstood the discomfort from the heat for 25% longer than those who slept just four hours.
Anecdotally, this is an easy hypothesis to support. The more rested you are, the more capable you are of managing pain and discomfort. That’s often the case even if your injury or condition doesn’t appear to be improving.
POOR SLEEP SLOWS RECOVERY
Sleep is a time of recovery for the body. It’s an opportunity for the body to repair and restore itself. That’s true for muscles that have been stressed intentionally, in the gym, and it’s also true for injuries. Whether your back pain is the result of chronic stress or a sudden injury, recovery is predicated on quality sleep. Without it, the road to recovery is much longer and harder.
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR SLEEP
It’s all fine and good to recommend eight hours of sleep every night, but making it a reality isn’t always easy. One of the best ways to calm the body and mind in preparation for sleep is with a soothing bedtime routine. Avoid electronic devices for thirty minutes before bed, and create a routine that you can easily follow. Set a regular bedtime, and stick to it! Building a familiar habit is a good way to indicate to your body and brain that it’s almost time to power down for the night. A comfortable, distraction-free sleeping environment is also key, so keep lights dim or low, reduce the thermostat, and banish devices from the bedroom. Remember – your bedroom is a sanctuary, so do what you can to keep it a calm, quiet, restful space.
WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS…
If your back pain is severe enough to negatively impact your sleep for longer than a few days, don’t assume pain medications are your only option. Dr. Lynelle McSweeney here in Reno takes a holistic, multi-technique approach to chiropractic care that is personalized to the patient. Learn more about what you can expect at your first visit, or schedule an appointment today. You don’t have to suffer from back pain and poor sleep any longer.