A better nights sleep is something we all would like. Sandy Boniface, Chiropractor at Guildford Chiropractic Centre gives some professional advice on the matter.
Do you ever wake up in the morning with pain in your lower back that wasn’t there when you went to bed the previous night, and that resolves once you get out of bed and become more mobile?
Or do you find it difficult to find a comfortable position to sleep in, tossing and turning throughout the night?
If you can answer “Yes” to either of these, then the problem may be to do with your mattress, or your sleeping posture.
Many people buy an “orthopaedic” mattress, believing that, because it is very firm, it will be best for their back and gives them a better nights sleep. However, in many cases, an “orthopaedic” mattress is too firm, giving too little support to the spine.
As we generally spend about one third of our life sleeping, having the right bed, and sleeping in the correct position, is very important.
A good mattress should be both comfortable and supportive, moulding to the shape of your body to support the natural curves of the spine, no matter what position you lie in.
When lying on your side, your spine should be horizontal. If you lie on your back, try sliding your hand under your lower back; if there is a hollow under your lower back and your hand slides in easily, the mattress is too firm, but, if it is very difficult to slide your hand in, the mattress is probably too soft. A mattress that is either too hard or too soft will not give your spine the support it needs, leading to stress on the spine, muscles and ligaments.
If you regularly experience lower back pain when you get up in the morning, you may need to replace your mattress; it is generally recommended that a mattress is replaced every 10 years or so. If you think that your mattress is too firm you can soften it slightly by putting a spare duvet on top of the mattress. If this resolves your back pain, it may be worth investing in a memory foam topper mattress. If you decide to replace your bed and mattress, you need to allow sufficient time for trying new beds out. It is recommended by the Sleep Council that you spend at least 10 minutes lying on a bed, preferably with your partner, and to lie in different positions to see how comfortable each bed is.
The position you sleep in can also have a significant impact on lower back pain. The majority of people find that sleeping on either side in a fetal position, is the most comfortable. Many people sleep on their back, which is fine if the mattress supports the normal curve in your lower back, but, if your mattress is too soft, your spine will sink in to the mattress, flattening the normal curve which can result in pain and stiffness. Lying on your stomach is the worst position to sleep in as it increases the curve in your lower back which can cause compression of the lumbar facet joints, leading to lower back pain and stiffness.
If you need any further advice please speak to one of the chiropractors at the Guildford Chiropractic Centre.
Sandy will discuss more on getting a better nights sleep in Part 2!