Back pain can disturb sleep in a sensitive way. Tiredness, lack of concentration, low performance at work and exhaustion are the consequences.
Studies show that many patients with back pain sleep poorly due to nerve damage (e.g. from a slipped disc). Conversely, lying down at night can itself trigger back pain if the bed and mattress do not fit or an unfavourable position is adopted during sleep.
Sleep with back pain flat and not very restful
With strong tensions in the back, lying down becomes torture and sleep is not to be thought of. Pain-related sleep deprivation therefore often causes back pain sufferers a great deal of trouble: they typically suffer from a flat and “choppy” sleep, i.e. with frequent waking phases in between.
The lack of deep sleep weakens the body and makes it more susceptible to pain and infections. Moreover, if “pain sleep” is dreamless, patients with back pain find it difficult to find psychological recovery at night.
Before a painful vicious circle of overtiredness and ever-increasing back pain unfolds, it is therefore important to quickly release the muscular tension in the back and at the same time to optimize sleep hygiene in order to save the quality of sleep and life.
What is the right bed for back pain?
E essential prerequisites for healthy sleep are a good room climate with temperatures between 16 and 18° Celsius and a suitable bed. Since we move from one side to the other more often during sleep, the bed should be at least 20 cm longer than the body height and one metre wide. This is the only way it offers sufficient space.
The right mattress for back pain
A good mattress is also important. It should neither sag nor be as hard as a board, but should rest on a flexible slatted frame and yield slightly under pressure. Mattress and slat base should be well coordinated. Multi-part mattresses or old, remote mattresses with hollows are poison for the back. It is therefore worth changing the mattress from time to time.
In a study among hotel guests the connection between the quality of mattresses and the quality of sleep or the occurrence of back pain was investigated. In fact, a significant correlation between mattress quality and depth of sleep was found among people suffering from chronic back pain. The mattress should therefore be chosen carefully.
Pillow for back pain: not too thick
In addition, the correct size of the pillow must be ensured. If it is too thick, the head will be overstretched and tension in the neck muscles will easily develop. Special neck pillows can ensure a healthy position of the head when lying down.
What is the best way to lie down?
When lying down, the spine and muscles should be relieved or relaxed. The prone position is rather unsuitable for this, as the back forms a hollow back and the head is overstretched, which can lead to tension in the neck. When sleeping on the back, a pillow can be placed under the knees. This relieves the lumbar spine and prevents a hollow back.
In the lateral position, a pillow can be placed between the knees, which corrects a tilted position of the pelvis. If there is acute back pain, such as a slipped disc, sleeping on your back in a stepped bed provides relief. The lower legs are raised on a special foam cube, which is available from specialist orthopaedic retailers.
Treatment prevents chronic back pain
In addition to choosing a suitable mattress to provide back support for sleeping and a reclining position that is gentle on the back, it is essential to clarify other possible causes of back pain and sleep disorders and to treat them accordingly.
Otherwise, there is a risk that the pain will become chronic (permanent) and lead to days of illness or, in the worst case, to incapacity to work. Back pain is already the most common reason for doctors to issue a medical certificate.
In order to relax the muscles and thus also alleviate sleep disorders caused by back pain, various types of sports, massages and, depending on the cause of the pain, heat applications are recommended.