Sleep’s Impact On Recovery From Chronic Low Back Pain
You probably have a general idea about how important it is to get the right amount of sleep each night. When you get enough sleep, you are energized and clear-headed, better able to face the next day’s challenges.
But did you know that getting good quantity, good quality sleep also plays a valuable role in healing from all kinds of physical injuries and for minimizing and recovering from chronic low back pain?
When you get enough good quality sleep, it is restorative for the body. Quality sleep is defined as following a predictable and consistent cycle that carries you through deep non-REM and REM stages of sleep. The process does more than rest the body: it refreshes it through the release of certain chemicals that repair the day’s damage and promote healing.
What Is It About Sleep That Contributes to Healing?
It’s the release of growth hormones, and that only happens when sleep is deep and of high quality. It happens in the very last stages of the sleep cycle, and when it occurs it facilitates cell regeneration, and in the case of those suffering from lower back pain it helps the damaged cells to fix themselves.
Of course, if you’ve ever suffered from lower back pain yourself, you know that getting a decent night sleep is one of the most challenging aspects of the experience. The more painful your back is, the harder it is to get comfortable and for your body and mind to relax. Lying awake and thinking about your discomfort leads to stress over not sleeping, setting up a vicious cycle of exhaustion, pain, and insomnia.
The good news is that there are steps that you can take to break this cycle and enhance your chances of getting the restorative sleep that you need. Start with the most obvious thing – your mattress. Mattresses need to be supportive and comfortable, and after several years they will lose those characteristics. If you can’t remember when you purchased your mattress, that’s probably a clue that it’s too old.
Beyond the bed itself, do what you can to relax both your mind and your body before getting into bed. Make sure that you are retiring at the same time every night and following the same habits each night before going to bed – doing so will set your body up to expect that it is time to go to sleep.
Do a few gentle stretches to release muscle tension in painful areas and consider a hot shower or bath before getting into bed. Many people find that introducing pre-sleep practices such as mindful meditation or focused breathing are helpful, and take the time to read up on other sleep hygiene issues including setting aside all electronic devices at least two hours before bedtime, setting your room to the optimal temperature of below 68 degrees, making sure that your room is dark and quiet, and sleeping in the best position for your particular type of back pain.
Though lower back pain often requires intervention from pain or orthopedic specialist, the tips included here may provide you with some relief and speed up your healing. If you would like to set up a consultation with our medical professionals, contact our office today.