Many patients with complaints of back pain also have difficulty sleeping. They often report sleeping for only 1 or 2 hours at a time, difficulty going to sleep, waking up in pain, and/or tossing and turning all night. Sleep is a crucial part of your bodies ability to heal itself, but the quality and duration of sleep are important components in your bodies ability to use this time effectively. It is important to enter deep sleep for long periods so that your body can really get to work, however, this does not happen when you are tossing, turning, or waking up in pain. Here are a few tips that my patients have found useful in there quest for a better night of sleep.
- If you sleep on your back, try placing two or more pillows under your knees to decrease the pressure in your low back and pelvis. This often allows you to stay in this position for longer periods without an increase in pain.
- If you sleep on your side, you may have been told to place a pillow between your knees. This may or may not have helped you. Actually, you should have pillows supporting your entire leg down to your ankles. Try placing varying heights of pillows or other supportive material (folded towels, etc.) between your legs until you find what is comfortable. It may require more support at the knees, or more at the ankles. This may take a few minutes the first time you try it, but when you hit the right position, you should feel very relaxed and supported. It will be easier to recreate next time. I suggest using body pillows as part of this equation.
- If you sleep on your stomach, which can be problematic for many patients, try putting a pillow under your waist and a couple of pillows under your feet so that your knees are bent. Again, this should take some of the pressure off of your back and pelvis.
- Spare no expense on your mattress. It is one of the most important investments that you can make!