An increase in temperature can bring on an increase in fatigue. The change in weather can cause you to focus on your sleeping habits—especially if you’re not getting enough rest.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, lack of sleep can affect mood and functional ability as well as have a negative impact on pain perception. At the same time, back pain can make it tough to get a good night’s sleep. But if you dig a little deeper, you’ll learn that how you sleep may make things worse. While certain sleep positions put strain on an already aching back, others may help you find relief.
Some sleep positions can put added pressure on your neck, shoulders, hips, lower back, knees, and even your heels—all of which can lead to pain.
What is the most common offender? Any sleeping position has the potential to amplify back pain if you maintain it for too long, but sleeping on your stomach flattens the natural curve of your spine and puts some additional strain on your back muscles. Plus, stomach sleeping means that your neck is rotated, which can result in pain in your neck or between your shoulders.
To avoid discomfort, you don’t have to worry about keeping your body in the same position all night. It’s normal for you to move around a bit while you sleep, and that can help ease pressure on your back. Also, there’s no universal position to beat back pain, but you can try a few tricks to get it under control so that you can sleep more soundly.
First, you’ve got to be comfortable. A few simple modifications to your regular sleep position will help take a load off your back:
- If you’re a back sleeper: Put a pillow under your knees to allow your spine to maintain its natural curve.
- If you’re a stomach sleeper: Put a pillow under your lower abdomen and pelvis to ease back strain.
- If you’re a side sleeper: Draw your legs up slightly toward your chest and sleep with a pillow (a full body pillow can be comfortable) between your knees.
When it comes to selecting a mattress and pillow (or number of pillows), personal preference and comfort always take priority. Test out different surfaces in your home or spend a night in a hotel that offers options to see what works best for you.
Don’t forget that daily activity—or lack of it—is just as important as sleep position. If you sit too long during the day, or don’t sit properly, chances are that you spend several hours slouching with a rounded back. Try to vary your posture as much as possible, and practice good posture when standing and sitting to help ease back pain at night. Likewise, if you spent all winter indoors, the sudden jolt of strenuous activity outside might catch up with you when you’re sleeping.
If a few changes to your sleep position and daytime routine don’t help your back pain or sleep troubles, it may be time to get a medical opinion. If your pain increases, ask your doctor to check for any potentially serious problems.