Do you often find yourself tossing and turning at night, trying to get comfortable while sleeping with back pain or sciatica? If so, you’re definitely not alone. Millions of people suffer from these conditions every night, which can lead to night-time waking and poor pain control. This blog post explains how to improve your sleep if you suffer from lower back pain or sciatica. Let’s get you on the path to a restful night’s sleep!
As a chiropractor, I often see patients coming into the clinic with back pain or sciatica. With many people working from their home office, these aches and pains are becoming more and more common.
What is sciatica? It is best described as pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve, which originates in the lower back and runs through the hips and buttocks and into each leg. It typically only affects one side of the body.
Why Can’t I Sleep?
An underlying cause of disrupted sleep is a lower pain threshold, which leads to greater nerve activation and it can cause you to wake up many times during the night. This can lead to less deep sleep and REM sleep, causing you to feel groggy the following day. Don’t ignore your pain as it’s the body’s way of telling you something is wrong. Taking the necessary steps in dealing with your pain can help you get back to a healthy restful sleep.
Dealing with pain is not always easy and can become overly frustrating. Regardless of where you are in managing your chronic pain, there are a variety of ways you can start improving your sleep. The smallest changes can have a big impact on both sleep quality and daily life.
Manage Your Mental Health
Chronic pain can affect your mental health (concentration and mood.) When your body is dealing with a constant pain that just won’t go away, it can lead to depression and anxiety. We become more aware of pain when our mental health is compromised. Learning relaxation techniques such as meditation and breathwork, or even just going for a 15-30 minutes walk can help you cope better with your mental health.
Sleeping Positions And the Proper Pillow:
It’s important to consider the best sleeping position for back pain and sciatic pain. Some people find relief by sleeping on their stomach, while others prefer sleeping on their side or on their backs. Experiment with different positions until you find one that feels comfortable and doesn’t aggravate your pain.
- Sleeping on your side—If it is more comfortable to sleep on your side, keep your hips stacked by placing a firm and flat pillow between your knees. This will allow your lower spine to be properly aligned and prevent your top leg from creating pressure on your lower back and/or pelvis. By using a head pillow you can slightly raise your head so that your shoulders are aligned. Some people also like to place an additional pillow behind their back to keep a better position when sleeping.
- Sleeping on your back—If it is more comfortable to sleep on your back, elevate your knees by placing a pillow underneath them. This will reduce stress on your lower back by maintaining the natural curve of your spine. A proper pillow to support both your head and neck will help you maintain proper spinal alignment.
- Sleeping on your stomach—If it is more comfortable to sleep on your stomach, add a small thin pillow underneath your stomach and under your feet. Also add a pillow for your head with proper neck support, and make sure to alternate your head position from side to side during the night. Be careful with this position as it may relieve your back pain but may cause issues in your neck.
Pillows & Mattresses—Can They Make A Difference?
A pillow can make or break your sleep. They come in a variety of shapes, densities, and contours and can be used for elevating your knees. They can really make a big difference when you are using the right one for your sleeping position.
I recommend purchasing an ergonomic pillow that supports your body and keeps your spine in proper alignment when sleeping. There are many pillows on the market, such as cylindrical pillows you can use under your knees or even wedge pillows for various body supports.
Another undertaking you may want to consider is changing your mattress. If it’s over 8-10 years and you are starting to have dents in your mattress, it could be what is the cause of your back pain.
Mobility exercises can help ease discomfort in the lower back by reducing tension and compression on the sciatic nerve through increased hip mobility. Here’s one that can be effective in helping to reduce your discomfort:
Standing pigeon pose—One mobility exercise that is great for opening up the hips and releasing back tension is the standing pigeon pose – Stand in front of your bed and lift your right knee up and place your right leg on top of the bed. As you exhale, gently fold your torso over your right leg, keep that position for 30 seconds. You should feel a stretch in your lower back, buttocks and hips. Then lift your torso up, and switch sides. Repeat 3 times. You will notice each time you stretch your torso over your leg, you will be able to get into a deeper stretch.
Finally, chiropractic care can help reduce your back pain and sciatica. They can get to the root of the problem, rather than suppressing the symptoms. Oftentimes, more than one adjustment is needed to create a long lasting impact. They will work with you to create a care plan that suits your condition best.
We’re Here to Help
At Santé Chiropractic and Wellness Center, we take a holistic approach to wellness, meaning that we help your whole body, We understand that it can be difficult to make sense of all the health and wellness information out there; please know that we’re here to guide you on your journey, We carry pillows in our Wellness store and will be happy to help you choose the right pillow for you!
Book an appointment with us today to experience the benefits of chiropractic and get back to your optimal self!