The other day, I was talking to one of our new clients (a 62 year old corporate CEO that I’m helping to get back on the golf course), and he mentioned a side effect to his lower back pain.
“I can’t even get a good night’s sleep anymore.”
I reassured him that it’s not uncommon for back pain to reduce quality of sleep. It’s something we hear a lot from clients. And science indicates that they’re more closely related than you might think..
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There’s actually a vicious cycle that takes place between back pain and sleep.
and so on and so forth…
So, if you’re losing sleep over back pain, it’s important to find a way to break the cycle to keep the back pain from intensifying.
You might have read articles in the past on this topic that talk about choosing the right mattress, altering your sleeping position, or how to adjust your pillow. If you’ve tried those methods and they work, I couldn’t be happier for you. You’ve already found a way to break the cycle!
However, in my own personal experience, I’ve found that adjusting my sleeping position or putting a pillow between my legs doesn't change much or sometimes causes me to sleep far worse. If you’re in that boat, the tips in this post are for you.
The following recommendations focus not on how to physically sleep differently, but how to prepare your nervous system for a restful night’s sleep. The tips have been put together in order to ensure your nervous system is in a relaxed (parasympathetic) state at bed time. If the nervous system is in a stressful state (the sympathetic nervous system is dominant), it can both decrease your quality of sleep and amplify your back pain.
1. Stick to a sleep schedule
Ideally, you should shoot for 7-8 hrs of sleep/night. Studies have shown that people who sleep 6 hrs or less actually experience more back pain than people who get more sleep. In order to hit 7-8 hrs, it helps to stick to a consistent schedule. Sticking to a schedule will also help your body to learn to relax at bedtime.
2. Don’t take work to bed with you
Whatever you do, don’t get in bed with your laptop or check emails on your phone before it’s time to go to sleep. Instead, find a book that’s unrelated to business/work or listen to relaxing music before bed. It’s important to keep the stress and/or adrenaline associated with work life out of the bedroom.
3. Keep exercising, but try to finish up at least 4 hrs before bedtime.
If you’ve read my past posts, you know that a consistent exercise routine is a key component in relieving your back pain. However, if you’re exercising too close to bedtime, it can be difficult to relax. Try to find an exercise window that allows you to wind back down a few hours before bedtime to ensure a good night’s sleep.
4. Don’t rely on medications or alcohol
While medications and alcohol may help you to fall asleep easier, it’s likely they will decrease your overall quality of sleep. Rather than resort to external fixes, try to focus on the other tips in this post to put your nervous system in a relaxed state before bedtime.
5. Limit caffeine after 12:00 PM
If you’re drinking caffeine in the afternoon, it’s likely you will still experience its effects at bedtime. We drink coffee to wake us up in the morning, but we don’t want it affecting our quality of sleep at bedtime. If you’re looking for something hot to drink, try substituting with green tea or decaffeinated coffee/tea.
6. Deep breathing exercises
If all else fails, try a few deep breathing exercises before bed. This is one of the best things you can do to get your nervous system to transition from stressed to relaxed. Try this exercise, which we use with clients before and during our sessions…
Inhale through your nose for 4 seconds and then exhale for 8 seconds. By doing this, it helps promote a parasympathetic or relaxation response from the nervous system because the emphasis is on a longer exhale. We have collected enough oxygen during the 4 second inhale to survive (obviously it is not a life or death situation, but that is how our nervous system interprets our breathing), and now we can tell our body to relax by controlling a slow and soothing exhale.
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If you or someone you know is dealing with annoying back pain, here's 7 Quick & Easy Tips To Reduce Back Pain. Just go here to get your free copy.
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About the Author
Evan Lewis is a nationwide leader in Neuro Therapy and founded the Baltimore area's only specialist Neuro Therapy facility for people who want to stay active into their 40s, 50s, and beyond.
Download now: 7 Quick & Easy Tips To Reduce Back Pain (without painkillers,, injections, or seeing the doctor)!