Prevent Back Pain While You Sleep

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation

If the first sound that you make in the morning is a groan instead of a yawn, it’s likely that you’re familiar with back pain. Back pain isn’t just an uncomfortable nuisance that you have to deal with during the day—it can also rob you of sleep. People with back pain report that the discomfort can wake them up as often as six times throughout the night. If you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep due to a sore back, read on for four simple tweaks that can help break the “ow!” cycle.

Switch Positions.

Certain sleep positions can place extra pressure on the neck, hips, lower back, and more—all of which can cause back pain. Luckily, a pillow can fix this. If you sleep on your back, try placing a pillow under your knees while you snooze. This will allow for proper alignment of the spine. If you sleep on your stomach, a pillow under your lower abdomen can help, while those who sleep on their side should tuck the pillow between their knees.

Try a New Mattress.

Your bed may be to blame for your aching back. In fact, 63 percent of people say that their back pain improved after switching to a new mattress. Look for a medium-firm or firm mattress (the super cushy ones may feel great at first, but they are not back-friendly). Many companies allow you to test drive a mattress for a few weeks before you’re obligated to keep it, which is a good method for finding one that works for you. If a new mattress isn’t in the cards, adding plywood supports under the mattress may help.

Move Carefully.

Paying attention to how you get in and out of bed may help ward off back pain. Avoid sudden, jerky movements and also try not to bend forward from the waist when getting out of bed, as this can hurt your back. Instead, roll over onto your side and push yourself up using your hands while swinging your legs over the side of the bed.

Hit the Gym.

Working out, in general, helps you sleep better. And a stronger, more flexible core can help reduce your risk of back strains and muscle spasms during the night. Add exercises that work your abs and back to your regular workout routine, like the following plank move. Start on your hands and knees, with your hands directly under your shoulders. Walk your legs back until your body is in a straight line from head to toe. Engage and tighten your abs (as if you’re about to be punched in the stomach) and hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds.

If you’re consistent about following this advice, your back pain will hopefully lessen, but see your doctor if these nighttime tweaks don’t lead to improvement, since chronic back pain could be linked to more serious conditions such as scoliosis, fractures, or spinal tumors.