Sleeping with Lower Back Discomfort
At Stretch Zone we offer many practitioner-assisted stretches for lower back pain, and we’ve seen the spinal issues that can arise from bad sleep habits.
Something as simple as a new mattress or new sleeping position can help soothe the discomfort you’re feeling.
In this article, we’ll discuss some of the ways your sleep habits can impact your back. We’ll also discuss how you can relieve the discomfort you’re currently experiencing.
Why Does My Lower Back Hurt When Lying in Bed?
Lower back discomfort has many different causes, including but not limited to:
- Tight fascia
If your discomfort is sporadic, it’s often best to focus on the symptoms that trouble you. If it persists for long periods of time – or it’s paired with other worrisome symptoms, like an inability to feel sensation in one or both of your legs – it’s best to visit a medical professional.
The time of day when your back feels bad may vary depending on the source of the discomfort. That said, night is one of the most common times for this issue to be apparent, for two reasons.
First, many people sleep on their backs. This puts pressure on that area, making any underlying issues more obvious. Second, you have few distractions from discomfort at night, when the rest of your home is likely quiet. These hours make you more likely to notice problems you’re already experiencing.
Can a Bed Make Your Lower Back Hurt?
Bad mattresses can make your lower back hurt. In some cases, they’re the main source of discomfort, but a worn bed can also aggravate issues that you’re already having.
Beds are a big purchase, so if you’re unsure whether you need a new one, it’s worth considering some of the major signs that the mattress is the problem.
We’ll discuss these signs below.
How Do I Know if My Mattress is Causing My Back Discomfort?
When You’re Experiencing Back Discomfort
When you’re experiencing discomfort can be a significant indicator, helping us narrow down the potential causes of why you feel that way.
For instance, if you’re feeling it most intensely in the middle of the night, or when you’re getting up in the morning, the issue can most likely be found when you sleep. If the discomfort is the same during both the day and night, you’ll want to look at other factors that could be causing the issue.
If the discomfort is worse at night, your first step should be to change your sleeping position, to ensure this isn’t bending your spine into an unnatural place. If that isn’t the issue, you likely need to replace your mattress.
How Long You’ve Been Sleeping in Your Bed
You should also consider how long you’ve been sleeping in your bed. Generally, your best bet is to get a new bed no more than once every eight years. For one, this prevents the mattress from degenerating with age. Older mattresses often get soft, not providing the support your body needs.
Shopping for a new mattress once every eight years also helps ensure that you’re getting the right mattress. Many things can change during that amount of time – how you sleep, your weight, and even in some cases the density of your bones – which makes an old mattress less suitable than a new one.
If you’re experiencing the opposite problem, with your new mattress causing the discomfort, you may just need to give it time to acclimate to your body. If you’re still experiencing this discomfort after 90 days, you may not have the bed that’s right for you.
You’re Having Trouble Sleeping
There are various reasons why you might have trouble sleeping, but if restlessness is paired with lower back discomfort, this is a good sign that there’s an issue with your mattress.
What If I’m Still Not Sure My Mattress Is the Issue?
If you’ve gone through the list and you’re still unsure of the root cause for your back discomfort, your best bet is probably going to the mattress store to try some out for yourself. By comparing new mattresses to the one you currently have, you can determine whether it’s the mattress itself that needs replacing.
Can Lying Down Too Much Cause Back Discomfort?
Yes. While it can be tempting to stay in bed if your body is hurting, this sometimes just exacerbates the situation. It depends in part on the source of your discomfort, which is why it’s important to think carefully about your symptoms.
Lying down for too long is particularly bad for your fascia, which stiffens up when it doesn’t get enough movement.
Can Not Getting Enough Sleep Cause Back Discomfort?
Excess isn’t good in either direction. Once you’re certain you’re not laying down too much, you also need to make sure you’re getting enough sleep.
Sleep is important for your body, giving your muscles the chance to rejuvenate after the stresses of the day. If you’re not in bed enough, the inflammation can cause your back to feel worse.
What Should I Look for When Buying a New Mattress?
If your mattress is causing back problems, you’ll want to know what to look out for when buying a new one.
First, it’s useful to try the mattresses out yourself. There are many different body types, and you want to make sure the mattress is right for yours.
That said, even if you’re not able to try mattresses out in the store, many companies now offer trials that last up to 100 days. It’s good to take advantage of these programs, because if your bed still doesn’t feel good after 90 days, it’s already broken in and will likely cause problems in the future.
Along with that, you’ll want to consider mattress firmness. In general, firmer mattresses are better for back discomfort because they ensure better alignment of your spine. That said, mattresses that are too firm put pressure on your hips, which in turn can cause or exacerbate your lower back issue.
Your BMI is an indicator of what you need, as lower BMIs tend to respond better to softer mattresses.
Memory foam mattresses are specifically designed for people with back discomfort. If you’re in a relationship, you may want to get a bed that offers two different, adjustable levels of firmness.
Are Water Beds Good or Bad for Back Discomfort?
Water beds used to be popular because they distributed pressure evenly throughout your body. While this is good for your spine, this kind of bed comes with two major disadvantages.
The first is that it doesn’t provide the level of support your back needs. The second is that it’s prone to leaking.
Is Sleeping on the Floor Good for Back Discomfort?
Some people sleep on the floor because they believe it’s good for their back. There are benefits to this practice, but it’s not ideal for lower back discomfort. The hard surface puts pressure on your hips, which in turn causes the tension felt in your lower back.
How Do You Get Rid of Back Discomfort from Sleeping?
One of the first steps to relieving this discomfort is changing your sleeping habits. Typically, we want to start with the position you sleep in. The following are all good sleeping positions for mitigating the discomfort you’re feeling.
Sleep on Your Side
If you go to bed on your side, you’re putting less pressure on the area that hurts.
There is no notable difference between lying on your left side or your right side. In fact, when choosing this position, try to vary between lying on your left side and right side.
By lying on the same side every night, you’re putting regular pressure on only one half of your body. Your shoulder is particularly vulnerable to discomfort if you lie on it every night.
There are two recommended ways of sleeping on your side: in the fetal position or with a pillow in-between your knees. The former helps keep your vertebrae as open as possible, which in turn relieves the discomfort that results from pinched discs. The latter helps align each part of your spine.
Sleep on Your Stomach
Sleeping on your stomach isn’t recommended in most scenarios because of the way it orients your spine. That said, this may be the only way you fall asleep. It’s also useful for minimizing the pressure placed on your spinal discs.
When on your stomach, you’re putting pressure on your neck and spine. The best way to offset this is by putting a pillow under the bottom half of your stomach. If you choose to sleep in this position and want a pillow by your head, you’ll want to choose the thinnest pillow possible.
This technique helps you ensure that your spine is aligned, which is essential if you choose this sleeping position.
Sleep on Your Back
If you can’t fall asleep without lying on your back, you’ll want to put a pillow underneath your legs.
Depending on the source of your discomfort, you may also be able to sleep in a reclined position. While the most convenient way to do this is typically in a chair, in the long run you’re better off getting an adjustable bed.
This gives you more support, while also allowing you to sleep in that reclined position.
Is Back Discomfort at Night a Red Flag?
Back discomfort comes with numerous potential causes, so there’s no need to be alarmed. At the same time, feeling this discomfort at night can be one of several indicators pointing to a more serious issue.
The following are aspects of discomfort specific to your lower back which may speak to a larger issue:
- You experience it outside the ages of 18-50.
- It never stops, lasting longer than six weeks.
- You’ve previously experienced major trauma.
- You’re only experiencing it at night, when lying down.
- You experience it regardless of your sleeping position or the mattress you’re using.
Essentially, lower back discomfort is common, so you shouldn’t be alarmed if you’re experiencing it at night. However, it’s important to be mindful of other symptoms, which can give you a better idea of what’s causing your discomfort.
If you feel you have a medical issue, you should get a diagnosis from a medical professional.
Does Lower Back Discomfort Get Worse with Age?
As people get older, they tend to lose both bone mass and muscle. This progression, combined with other processes like the thinning out of your spinal cord, often contributes to back discomfort.
There are many things you can do to stall this change, such as engaging in regular physical activity and eating a healthy diet. As well, practitioner-assisted stretching can help you maintain your range of motion, ensuring that you don’t lose it as you age.
What Can I Do to Lessen My Lower Back Discomfort?
There are many ways to soothe your lower back discomfort. If you think this may be a medical issue, it’s worth speaking with a medical professional. Otherwise, you’ll want to find a technique that can help address the discomfort.
Practitioner-assisted stretches for lower back discomfort are ideal here, since they’re non-invasive. A professional will also be able to give more detailed, personalized advice to you based on what they’re seeing.
At StretchZone, our practitioners work with patients to design unique stretch programs for each client. They also listen to the client, understanding which stretches feel good and which one’s cause discomfort.
This helps increase your range of motion, limbering you up and making your body more resilient.
Looking for Practitioner-Assisted Stretches for Lower Back Pain?
StretchZone is here for you. For decades, we’ve been helping people relieve their lower back discomfort. Our practitioners are trained to help you benefit from the many benefits that stretching can cause. Even better, our studios can be found across the country, meaning it’s more convenient than ever to find a stretch practitioner.
Are you ready for a free 30-minute stretch session? If so, please don’t hesitate to book it today. We’re always happy to help newcomers see what a difference practitioner-assisted stretching can make.