What’s the most time-consuming thing you do, day in and day out, every day of your life? Eating? We certainly hope not. Watching TV? Nope. Driving through traffic? Possibly. What’s most likely though? It’s sleeping.
You spend between six and 10 hours a night in bed. That’s one-third of your life in the long run. And when it comes to back pain, those are some of the most important hours in your day.
Sleep helps your body heal. It’s really the only time your muscles can completely rest and recover. There are a ton of studies linking sleep with healing. They show that, among other things, human growth hormone and melatonin, both of which play a big role in tissue recovery and immunity, are produced during sleep.
So if you’re not getting good sleep, whether it’s due to pain, anxiety, fear or other reasons, you are not giving your muscles, especially your back muscles, time to rejuvenate themselves for the next day’s activities.
Believe us, we know. In our search for experiences, we have come across various struggles with all kinds of pain over the years; We have come to understand first-hand the importance of restful sleep.
What’s the Best Mattress
Is firm better than soft? From a physiological standpoint, a more supportive mattress is better regardless of what sleep position you prefer.
But having said that, the real answer is this: The best mattress is the one that helps you sleep well and wake up without any added pain and stiffness. It’s really about personal preference and what you are used to.
In our experience, we have experimented with most of them, if not all. From firm to super soft. From innersprings to coil. Even memory foams to latex. Our experiment with memory foam mattress became a failure because it was too soft. (We gave to some elderly parents, and they loved it.) Ideally, we have become fans of using a firm box spring mattress plus a towel under the sheets to give added support to our hips and pelvis.
Special Secret Tip:
You read that right – We put towels under the fitted sheet. A small blanket works well too. Here’s what you do: Fold the towel or blanket in half (and in half again if it’s thin). Place it under the fitted sheet-so it doesn’t move around during the night-under the small of your back and spreading down toward your knees. This extra support helps prevent your pelvis from sagging into the mattress. It might only make a difference of a few millimeters. But that is a huge difference when it comes to preventing the added stress that comes with remaining in any sleeping position all night long.
What’s the Best Position to Sleep In?
As with the mattress you chose, the position you sleep in is based on your personal preference or physical limitations based on pain or restrictions from your doctor because of surgery. In general, back sleeping is the most stable position for your spine and the least irritating to your muscles. Side sleeping is the next best. Stomach sleep is the least desirable if your back is not adequately supported.
One of our personalized recommendations, is a personalized side-lying position, using full-length body pillow. We experimented by having one member sleep by “hugging” the pillow with his arms and legs, which he claims was really comfortable and takes pressure off his lower back. We think you should try it, as long as you don’t have any medical or physical difficulties. Body pillows can be found at most retail bedding stores. They are not expensive and may give you an alternative sleeping position that will make a big difference in your comfort level, thus improving the quality and duration of sleep.
Why am I Sore When I Wake Up?
Typically, those with back pain don’t roll over as much as those without pain. You may even find yourself with limited movement in many cases. And because the hips are the heaviest part of the body, they sag into the mattress over time. That puts undue pressure on the ligaments, joints and muscles of the lower spine. To counter this effect, we highly recommend the added support under the fitted sheet.
Think of it as like stretching the same muscles for six to eight hours straight. Would that feel good? Of course not. So it’s no wonder you wake up sore. Find a way to support your body and you will minimize the irritation.