Do you have the best support for your spine while you sleep?
Do you ever wake-up feeling like you need a good stretch? Or worse, your back is stiff and sore and you feel like you’ve hardly had any rest at all? Back problems affect around one in six Australians (that’s 3.7 million of us!). People of all ages are affected, and both men and women are affected to a similar degree.
But the problem isn’t just the pain or discomfort you might feel. Chronic back pain can affect your overall feeling of well-being. Your ‘joie de vivre’. Having constant, niggly pain (or more intense pain) can really get you down. It can affect your relationships at home and at work.
What are the main causes of back problems?
There are all sorts of reasons why people feel back pain.
- Poor posture, lack of exercise and poor muscle strength can all lead to aches and pains in our back and neck. Many of us are now living a fairly sedentary lifestyle. We sit for long periods of time, hunched over a computer. This can also lead to us carrying a little more weight (or maybe a lot more) than is healthy. Extra weight puts strain on our muscles, joints, ligaments and bones.
- Overdoing it at the gym or at work can also be a problem. Lifting heavy weights can put a strain on our body and cause injury if we’re not careful.
- Smokers are more at risk of lower-back pain. Though there’s no proven direct cause, smoking block nutrients from reaching the spinal discs in the lower back. Smoking may also prolong the time it takes to heal a damaged back.
- Various types of arthritis can affect the spine, as well as genetic disc degeneration and other diseases such as cancer.
- More ‘structural’ problems that affect the vertebrae and discs, like scoliosis, can result in sciatica – which is a pain that travels from the back down the legs.
- Back injuries caused by an accident, such as a fall, or an injury incurred during sport, can linger on and cause pain.
What’s the best support for your spine?
It’s always best to consult with your GP or appropriate specialist to help with any serious back and neck problems. You might also need to consider lifestyle changes – like being more aware of your posture and doing more exercise that strengthens your muscles and supports your spine.
Making sure you have a good night’s sleep can also help your spine. Bedtime gives your whole body a chance to recuperate from your day’s activities. Choosing the right mattress and pillow can make a significant difference to how you feel.
The right mattress can give you the support you need
You spend around a third of your life in bed, which is quite a lot when you think about it. An older, sagging mattress is not the best support for your back. A good mattress should last you up to 10 years. The best mattress is both comfortable and supportive. As long as your mattress helps maintain your spine in an even, natural position, it’s giving your spine the support it needs.
What’s the ‘right’ sleep position?
The position you sleep in can also make a difference to your back health. For example, if you’re a side-sleeper, you can help maintain back alignment by placing a small pillow between your knees. According to the experts, sleeping on your stomach is the worst position for back and neck pain. That’s because your neck is twisting to the side and there’s no lumbar support. Once again, a pillow can come to the rescue! Placing a slim pillow under the hips abdomen and hips to raise your mid-section can help keep your spine aligned.