Restorative Rest: Tips for Healthy Sleep and Reducing Back Pain
Do you wake up stiff and groggy? Even if you’re not a morning person, it’s important to start your day off on the right foot. A good day begins with a restful night of sleep and waking up pain-free with plenty of energy to take on your day. If you’re having trouble sleeping, you may be missing the benefits of restorative rest.
At Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin, we know sleep is essential to your orthopedic health. Whether you’re recovering from surgery, healing from an injury, or working on an issue with your physical therapist, sleep should be a top priority.
Here are our top tips for getting a more restful night of sleep and reducing the chance of waking up with annoying back pain.
Restorative Sleep Tips
Choose the Right Mattress and Pillow
Your bed is one of the most important investments for your health. Choose a mattress that provides proper support for your back. The ideal firmness level varies from person to person, so test different options. Use a pillow that aligns your neck and spine. It should be comfortable and supportive without being too thick or thin.
Perfect Your Sleeping Position
- Back sleeping: This position is generally best for back pain. Place a small pillow under your knees to help maintain the natural curve of your spine.
- Side sleeping: If you prefer to sleep on your side, place a pillow between your knees to keep your spine aligned.
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach as it can strain your neck and back.
Practice Sleep Hygiene
Maintain a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, even on weekends. Create a calming bedtime routine to signal to your body that it’s time to wind down. This can include activities like reading or gentle stretching.
For most folks, 8 hours is the sweet spot, although you should listen to your body—some people need more sleep, while others feel comfortable getting by on less. If your sleep schedule needs an adjustment, attempt to make changes in 10-15-minute increments. After a week or two of earlier bedtimes (or earlier wakeups), your body will adjust to the new healthy sleep schedule. Even if your schedule changes, try to keep your sleep times consistent.
Practice Proper Posture During the Day
Pay attention to your posture throughout the day, especially when sitting at a desk or working on a computer. Poor posture and prolonged sitting can lead to health issues and potential injuries. Use ergonomic chairs and equipment to support good posture.
Engage in regular physical activity, including exercises that strengthen your core and back muscles. Avoid high-impact exercises if they exacerbate your back pain. Physical activity helps you release endorphins, which give you an energy boost (and can keep you awake). So, it’s crucial to exercise at least a few hours before bed.
Remember Diet and Hydration
Maintain a balanced diet to support overall health and weight management. Stay hydrated, as dehydration can contribute to muscle cramps and discomfort.
Calm Your Mind and Body
Practice stress-reduction techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to help relax your body and mind. Yoga can help improve your physical body by improving your strength, posture, flexibility, and balance. It also boasts the mental health benefits of meditation, mindful breathing, and mental imagery.
When you practice meditation during the day, you’re training your brain to slow down and better focus on the activity at hand including better sleep. If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, there are also guided meditations for sleep. These can help you learn to shut down your mind and relax your body before bed.
Consult a Healthcare Professional
If you have chronic or severe back pain that affects your sleep, consult with a healthcare provider or a physical therapist for a personalized assessment and treatment plan. Or, if you’re trying to fight through painful joints, an injury, or another orthopedic issue, don’t suffer in silence. Many people ignore a problem and hope it will get better. Sometimes improvements won’t happen without medical intervention.
Contact Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin today if you’ve been struggling with pain that keeps you awake. Our specialists will address your concerns so you can get a better night of rest.