If you are dealing with lower back pain, you are in good company. Low back pain is one of the leading reasons for time taken off work in the UK.
While low back pain in bed can be linked to other medical conditions, such as arthritis, osteoporosis, and some types of cancer, more likely it is caused by a strain from lifting, poor posture, awkward sleeping positions, or if you only experience it in bed, a rundown mattress.
If a mattress does not match your individual preferences, you might be missing out on a good night's sleep. If the mattress has seen better days, it could be causing or worsening your back pain. Your mattress must provide comfort and support to reduce lower back pain, enabling the spine to relax and renew during the night.
Lack of support from your mattress increases poor posture, strained muscles, and a misaligned spine, all of which add to the severity or likelihood of developing low back pain.
With the vast choice of mattresses available, choosing the right one can be easier said than done. Here are some practical guidelines to help low back pain sufferers choose the most suitable mattress for back support and sleep satisfaction.
It is a matter of preference
There is no one type of mattress that works for everyone with lower back trouble. The mattress that helps a sufferer sleep well without pain is the best mattress for that person, but not necessarily for another. The mattress that provides relief and personal preference will determine which mattress is best for you.
Get to know the components that make up a mattress
The coils or inner springs un a mattress determine the level of support. Beds have differing numbers of coils, pockets, or springs, which affect the firmness, comfort, and price. Mattresses come in many depths and with different padding thicknesses. These are the three factors which you'll need to look at to find the best mattress for your comfort and back pain.
Look for a mattress with advanced back support
It was previously believed a firm mattress was best for a bad back. But recent studies have found a firm mattress doesn't always give good contouring for the spine, which can cause problems. A supportive mattress helps prevent muscle soreness and offers relief from aches and pain. Researchers found that medium-firm mattresses usually provide more support than firm mattresses.
Orthopaedic mattresses provide a high level of support, comfort, and pressure relief. They are particularly helpful if you have a bad back or have aches and pains during the night.
Attain the right balance between comfort and support
Overall comfort while sleeping is as important as adequate back support. Sleeping on a too-firm bed can induce aches and pains on pressure points like hips, shoulders, sides of knees, and ankles. A medium-firm mattress is often more comfortable than the firmest mattress because it allows the shoulders and hips to sink into the bed slightly.
Recognise when it's time to buy a new bed or mattress
If your mattress sags in the middle, feels lumpy or is generally uncomfortable, it is likely time to get a new one. Many people place a board under the mattress when it starts to sag, but this is far from ideal. Eventually, there will be no solution other than to buy a new mattress.
Sleeping positions to help lower back pain sufferers
Here we provide several approaches that will help you sleep well with back pain and hopefully offer some relief from low back pain in bed.
Sleep with a pillow between your knees, on your side
Some people find lying flat on their back makes a bad back worse. If this is you, try lying to your side. A pillow placed between your knees eases pressure and helps you sleep better. If there's space between your waist and the mattress, you can put a cushion or pillow there for more support. The pillow keeps the hips, pelvis, and spine in alignment.
If possible, you should try not to always sleep on the same side. Same side sleeping can cause muscle imbalance or poor posture.
Sleep in the fetal position
Sleeping on your side in a fetal position often helps with lower back pain. Bend your knees towards your chest and curl your torso towards your knees. Curling the back opens the space between the vertebrae. Change sides every so often to prevent imbalances.
Sleep on your stomach
Some patients find that shifting onto their stomach makes back pain worse because it adds stress to the neck. But if you like to lie on your stomach, you don't have to will yourself to sleep in another position. Instead, place a pillow under your pelvis and lower abdomen to take the pressure off your back. The pillow helps relieve the stress placed on the space between your discs, the cartilaginous joints that allow for spinal mobility. In this position, you might find it more comfortable not to use a pillow under your head.
Sleep with a pillow under your knees on your back
For some people, resting on their back is the best position to ease back pain, and placing a pillow beneath your knees keeps the spine disengaged. When sleeping on your back, your weight is evenly distributed across the broadest part of your body. Even weight spread places less strain on pressure points. You can also place a roll pillow or rolled-up towel under the small of your back for additional support.
Alignment is essential
No matter what position you find most comfortable, preserving the proper alignment of the spine is vital. Focus on aligning your ears with your shoulder and your hips.
You may find gaps between your body and the mattress. These can put a strain on muscles and the spine. Use pillows or cushions to fill the gaps.
If you have back pain, take care when you turn in bed. Twisting and turning motions can cause misalignment. Always move your entire body at once, keeping your core pulled in. You might find it helpful to bring your knees up as you turn over.