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August 29th, 2016

Can Sleep Really Hurt My Back?

by Dr. Jade Dellinger

After an extremely trying day, one of the first thoughts you may have is how great it will feel to get under the covers for some shut eye.  Can the type of mattress you have really be impacting the health of your back?  Studies are saying YES!

In a published review from Medscape General Medicine, they found that up to 50% of people with back pain also suffer from sleep disturbances.  They also concluded that poor sleep can be used to predict delayed healing after an injury.  Furthermore, sleep is one of the key components to healing, regardless if an injury or illness.

The Journal of Chiropractic Medicine found significant improvements in subjects pain levels, sleep quality and stress-related symptoms when they replaced their mattresses.  We all know how stress can affect not only our quantity of sleep, but the quality as well.  What the study goes on to say is that the reverse is also true.  A lack of sleep will actually cause your body and mind stress, leading to increased pain!

What mattress one person prefers will vary compared to the next, but as a general rule the firmest mattress you can sleep on comfortably is your best bet.  How about your positioning, do you know what is best?


Best: On Your Back
     Sleeping on your back on a medium-firm mattress will BEST support the curves of your spine.  You will need a thin or form fitting pillow to support the neck.  You do not want too large of a pillow as this can lead to neck strain and headaches. (Keep in mind if you have conditions such as acid reflux, you are meant to sleep with your upper body at an angle, but not just your head)

Next Best: On Your Side
 On your side does support the curves of your spine, but a proper pillow is imperative.  The pillow should support and keep your head level to the bed.  You may need a pillow between your knees to even out your hips as well.

Worst: On Your Stomach
     Some patients have told me they can only fall asleep on their stomach.  As a rule of thumb, I would prefer they try to change the habit immediately.  Having your head turned to the side for most of the night is extremely damaging to the structure and soft tissue of the neck, but pending the firmness of your mattress you may start to experience low back pain as well.

What type of mattress have you found improves your sleep and pains?  Are you a stomach sleeper?  Share your experience with us!  While you may feel great laying on a mattress in the store, it is important to buy a bed with a trial period.  60-90 days or longer should be enough time for you to know if the bed works for you.  

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