Updated: Jul 28, 2019
Week of July 22, 2018
What’s Happening: This week, we have an article written by Cheryl Conklin, creator of wellnesscentral.info. Cheryl believes if you don't have physical wellness, you don't have mental wellness, and vice versa. We 100% agree with her! Check out her website for some great resources on mental & physical health.
What You Can Do Each Day (and Night) to Reduce Back Pain and Sleep Better
by Cheryl Conklin
If you suffer from back pain, you may feel like sleep is a battle you just can’t win. You need sleep to feel your best, but pain keeps you tossing and turning. Not only does pain keep you from resting well, but if your spine isn’t supported properly, sleep can actually make back pain worse. Put a stop to this cycle by adjusting your sleep routine and some crucial daytime habits that will reduce pain and help you get a better night’s rest.
Give Yourself a Break
Trying to tackle your daily chores when your back pain is at its absolute worst isn’t a good idea. However, some things can’t wait, such as making dinner or ensuring that the house stays tidy. During these moments, don’t be afraid to ask for a little help; the last thing you want to do is make the situation worse. And while getting someone to bring you food is pretty simple, asking a friend or relative to clean your house might be pushing it. Instead, consider hiring a team of professionals to do the job. In the Rochester area, for example, you can hire a maid service to clean your house for around $123 and $260, depending on its size.
Eat Right to Fight Pain and Insomnia
You might think that eating a balanced diet is all about counting calories, but when it comes to fighting pain and sleeping better, you also want to focus on the nutrients you’re getting. For example, the nutrients in some foods are essential for joint health and can help reduce pain from joint problems. Some of the best joint health foods include cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts), ginger, bone broth and fruits that are full of vitamin C (including pineapple, mango and oranges).
While these foods for joint health should be a major part of your diet, if pain or anything else keeps you up at night, you want to be careful about when you eat certain foods too. Avoid foods that tend to cause digestive issues, such as acidic, fatty or fried foods, as well as having anything with caffeine too late in the day.
Build Strength and Flexibility
Strengthening your core muscles is one of the best things you can do to reduce back pain. Those core muscles are essential for providing stability to your entire midsection, so if you have a weak core, the lack of stability puts excess pressure on your back and forces back muscles to work extra. Check with your doctor first, but as long as you get the green light, try doing core-strengthening exercises to relieve that excess pressure and reduce pain.
The right back exercises will give you a good stretch while strengthening your back and core at the same time. Along with these exercises, you can also stretch muscles before bed to relieve pain from flaring up overnight. Some yoga poses can even be done in your bed to relax muscles right before going to sleep.
These exercises are the perfect start to improving posture, but they aren’t enough. It’s just as important to be mindful of maintaining good posture while sitting and standing. You may find that using an ergonomic chair or getting extra lumbar support helps. For many of us, our posture suffers because we spend too much time sitting. Mind Body Green recommends sitting for no more than 45 minutes at a time. If your job requires lots of sitting, get up and take quick breaks to realign your posture.
Support Your Spine
All of these daytime habits help reduce overall pain, and of course, less pain equals better sleep. But if you don’t have the proper support for your spine when you lie down at night, you can end up with more discomfort. Start by adjusting your sleep position to make sure it’s providing the right support. If you sleep on your back, place pillows under your lower back and knees to help create the right alignment. If you sleep on your stomach, place a pillow between your knees.
Getting the right support for your spine also comes from your mattress. According to Women’s Health Magazine, the firmness of your mattress isn’t the most important consideration. In fact, a mattress that is too firm could cause you more pain. The most important thing is to find a mattress that is comfortable and supportive while reducing pressure at key points.
No one wants to wake up in more pain than they were in the night before. After all, the purpose of sleep is for muscles to relax so your body can reset for the next day. Achieving that is possible, even with back pain, when you make these daytime and nighttime adjustments to lessen pain and rest better.
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