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How to sleep with a bad back

Back pain is a common complaint, with around 10 million people in the UK suffering from it as of 2021, according to Versus Arthritis. Back pain can be caused by serious medical conditions, such as arthritis, but most of the time it is caused by lifestyle factors such as stress, bad posture and awkward sleeping positions. Sleep is an important factor in our overall health, so it is important to find a way to sleep that can help ease, or even prevent, a bad back.

Find a comfortable sleeping position

Back pain can be caused by bad sleeping posture, but a bad back can also hinder our sleep, so it is important to find a sleeping position that works for you. Certain sleeping positions can help to ease a bad back.

1. Sleeping on your side with a pillow between your legs

Sleeping on your side is a popular sleeping position, but the addition of a pillow between your legs will allow your spine, pelvis and hips to stay aligned.

2. Sleeping in the foetal position

Sleeping in the foetal position opens up space between your vertebrae, helping to prevent disk herniation.

3. Sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees

Sleeping on your back is by far the healthiest position, as it distributes weight evenly across your body. Adding a pillow under your knees allows your head, neck and spine to rest in a neutral position.

4. Sleeping on your stomach with a pillow under your pelvis and lower abdomen

If you can, avoid sleeping on your stomach as it puts a lot of strain on your back. If, however, you can’t sleep any other way, resting your pelvis and lower abdomen on a pillow will take some of that pressure off of your back and will therefore improve your spinal health.

Invest in a good mattress

We’ve all seen the adverts… we know that you should change your mattress every 8 years. According to Patient.Info, swapping an uncomfortable mattress for a new one could give you an extra 42 minutes of sleep a night. 

Often, high-street furniture shops will allow you to test out different mattresses before you commit to one, and even some online retailers provide a ‘sleep guarantee’ which gives you a certain time frame that you are allowed to return the mattress for if you aren’t sleeping better. If you are on the hunt for a new mattress, it is important to check your chosen store, as not all will have the same policies.

Try to reduce your stress levels or try relaxation methods before bed

Stress is one of the main causes of insomnia and is also linked with back pain. If you find that you’re unable to switch off before bed, trying some relaxation methods, such as breathing exercises, stretches or meditation may help to improve the quality of your sleep.

Speak to an Osteopath

If your bad back is persistently impacting your sleep and daily routine, it may be time to speak to a medical professional. They will be able to provide guidance and even advise on any stretches or exercises that you can do to help your back. Please feel free to contact us and one of our osteopaths or physiotherapists will be more than happy to help.

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