Is bedtime a pain in the neck?
Research shows people don’t make the link between back pain suffered at night and their beds.
New research from the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) and Sealy beds reveals that neck or back pain has prevented nearly half (48%) of people from sleeping.
The research indicates that people are not making the link between their pain and their beds. Despite 43% of people saying that sleeping can cause them to suffer from neck or back pain, nearly two thirds (61%) do not think that their sleeping position is important for their back or neck health.
Worryingly, a staggering 96% said that they do not think that the way they get in and out of bed is important for their back or neck health, which chiropractors regularly attribute to triggering back problems in patients.
Despite complaining of back and neck pain occurring after sleep, most people don’t think that getting in and out of bed is important to their back health.
In fact, disc injuries are more likely to occur with bending movements first thing in the morning. As you sleep, the discs in your back hydrate and increase in size. This makes the disc fibres more susceptible to injury. Try and avoid bending movements for the first hour after waking. Your chiropractor will be able to recommend some gentle stretches you can do in the morning.
An important part of a good night’s sleep is a supportive mattress. You should change your mattress every 7-10 years and if you’re in pain at night, it might be that you need to buy a new one. If you are buying a new mattress, it’s vital to try it before making the purchase – you wouldn’t buy a pair of shoes without trying them on and mattresses are no different, especially as we all spend such a large amount of our lives in bed.
Top tips for buying a mattress and protecting your back in bed:
• Try before you buy: If you are lying on your side, your spine should be parallel to the mattress and your spine should not sag (bed too soft) or bow (bed too hard). The longer you can spend lying on a mattress before you buy it, the more accurate this feeling will be.
If you are lying on your back flat with your neck on a pillow, you should be able to slide your hand in the small of your back and it should be a nice snug fit. If it’s too difficult to slide your hand in the small of your back, then the mattress is too soft for you. If it’s too easy to slide your hand in the small of your back then the mattress is too hard.
• Don’t go it alone: Always shop with your partner as your respective ideal mattress tensions could be very different.
• Wake your body up slowly: Don’t leap out of bed first thing in the morning as this can damage the back. Instead, gently get out of bed and avoid bending or doing anything sudden or strenuous until your back wakes up.
• Adopt a good sleeping position: Lie on your back or side, rather than lying on your front with your neck twisted to one side.
There are many mattresses out there to choose from and what suits one person does not necessarily suit another, so take time to research and try them. Some companies now offer a trial period so if you cannot get on with the mattress that you purchased they offer you a different one or refund your money. It’s worth asking.
So until next time, sleep well and awaken refreshed.
Yours in health
Jamie Fraser-Nash ( Doctor of Chiropractic & Clinical Hypnotherapist)
DC, MRCC, GQHP, DipCHyp, CH