How To Prevent Back Pain In Bed
6 min read
Last Modified 19 December 2022 First Added 1 April 2016
“A staggering 8/10 of us will experience back pain at some stage in our lives and this can disrupt sleep. It’s important to remember that just like sitting and standing posture is important, so is your lying posture in bed when you sleep.”
Back pain can keep you up at night, it prevents you from enjoying a good night’s sleep and saps your day’s energy. But you’re in luck, not only are there solutions, but we’ve spoken to Hashim Saifuddin, Director and Osteopath at Atlas Osteopathy, to get the best and most thorough information to help you on your way to understanding back pain in bed, and how to combat it.
The main cause of back pain in bed is poor posture, either from how a person sits at work or how they sleep at night.
Between the vertebrae in the spine are intervertebral discs, which rehydrate at night (this is why we are taller in the morning, and part of the reason that the elderly lose height as they get older). Poor posture can prevent the discs from rehydrating.
Read more: The NHS Guide To Back Pain
Attached to the vertebra are smaller muscle groups such as the erector spinae, and large muscles such as the trapezius. Poor posture can put the muscles into awkward positions that can cause irritation over a prolonged period of time, resulting in aches or pains. Lower and middle back pain tend to be the common culprits when sleeping. While there are several causes of back pain, a small number of which can be more serious underlying health issues. NHS Live Well gives us a list of common indicators of poor posture:
These points are developed with images and solutions on this helpful NHS web page.
In order to prevent back pain in bed, taking care of your posture is essential. A great start is to sleep on your right-hand side, with knees bent up slightly. Laying on the right-hand side is good for blood flow, as you have the smaller and lighter left lung resting on the heart in this position, maximising blood flow.
Ensure that the gap in between the shoulder, neck, and head is filled with a pillow, so that the spine and neck remain in good alignment. Imagine how your neck sits vertically in line with the rest of the spine when you are sitting and standing; when you are laying on your side, you want to maintain that. Pillow depth is key here, and firmness or softness is a personal preference.
Related: Sleeping Positions Guide
In the morning and evening, it is beneficial to warm up and warm down. To achieve this:
Any exercise that strengthens your core will help prevent back pain in the future, so consider hitting the gym or park more often, or taking up a yoga class or similar.
When it comes to picking the right mattress, it is important to get the correct support for your spine. A mattress that is too hard can put too much pressure on the areas where you feel discomfort, whereas a mattress that is too soft will not provide support for the areas that need it, allowing the spine to spend long periods in poor and unhealthy positions.
People who suffer from lower back pain generally benefit more from a mattress erring on the firmer side of neutral. This is because of the shape of the spine, meaning that the lower back is often in need of more support. Most people can’t go wrong with a memory foam-type mattress, as this will provide support where support is needed, and allow for adjustment to the body where that is also required.
It is always a good idea to test any potential mattress first to check it supports you in the right way, the best way is to pop into one of our stores and try a bed. You may also like to see our Guide on Picking the Best Mattress for Your Sleeping Position.
If you’re prone to back pain, memory foam or alternative fillings such as latex can help cushion your back while maintaining your spine’s natural alignment. These mattresses are popular options for those with back pain:
Regarding the bed itself, if you are looking to start over completely, it may be important to remember that height of the bed can play an important part in preventing back pain. With beds that are too low and close to the ground, it is often that much more difficult getting out of bed in the morning, much like getting out of a low car!
Back pain when you sleep can be caused by a number of reasons, from your posture during the day to your bed and mattress. Finding out the cause of your back pain can help you to combat the aches that are keeping you awake or causing you pain when you wake up. Choosing a good bed and mattress for back pain can be a good start. If you know your bed and mattress are not the culprits of your bad back, looking at your posture and daytime habits is your next step.
If you’re suffering from back pain, our sleep expert Sammy advises you to always contact your GP for medical advice.