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How Can a Mattress Affect Back Pain?

How Can a Mattress Affect Back Pain?

As much as 80 percent of adults experience back pain at some time in their lives. One half of working Americans have back pain symptoms each year, making back pain one of the most common reasons for missed work.

Back pain can be caused by:

  • Sprained ligaments
  • Strained muscles
  • Sports injuries or accidents
  • Poor posture
  • Obesity

Better Sleep Offers Better Pain Tolerance

People who don’t sleep well can feel pain more acutely, but if you get enough sleep, you are in a position to maintain normal pain tolerance.

A recent study found participants who slept longer than others were able to withstand painful stimuli for a longer period. Just one night of reduced sleep could reduce your threshold for pain, but sleeping well can help you maintain a normal pain threshold.

Of course, when you’re in pain, your sleep may be disturbed. So pain can keep you up at night — and the lack of sleep can make the pain more difficult to bear. But if you’re able to sleep well, you can better deal with any pain you experience.

Medication can help alleviate pain, but can also be undermined by inadequate sleep. In another study sleep-deprived subjects had diminished pain relief effects from codeine. However, alternative treatments such as a chiropractic adjustment can help you avoid the need to use medications for back pain.

Reducing Back Pain

If you’re experiencing back pain, everyday life can be difficult. Improving sleep habits and your sleep environment, keeping a healthy lifestyle, maintaining good posture, and seeking treatment can help you sleep better at night and alleviate back pain.

  • Seek chiropractic care. Spinal manipulation can reduce your pain and advance physical therapy. It’s a good idea to visit a chiropractor before you consider treatment options including drugs or surgery.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Stay active and warm up or stretch before physical activity, and avoid long periods of inactivity or bed rest. Get to or maintain a healthy weight and diet. Avoid smoking, which can impair your blood flow and tissues.
  • Pay attention to your posture. When you’re working, sleeping, lifting, and going about other activities, posture matters. Make sure your workstation is ergonomically correct, and lift with your knees. As you sleep, consider using tools like pillows to keep your spine well aligned. For example, if you’re a side sleeper, you can put a pillow in between your knees.
  • Choose your mattress carefully. A bed that isn’t a good fit for your needs can cause or make back pain worse. A firmer mattress isn’t always better. It’s best to find a bed that is aligned with your needs. If you’re average sized, a medium firm mattress may be a better choice. You want to keep your spine aligned at night, so carefully compare mattresses to determine which one will be the best fit for your needs.
  • Talk to your doctor about serious conditions or chronic back pain. Back pain can be caused by disease, injuries, sprained ligaments, strained muscles, and other conditions. If your back pain doesn’t go away, talk to your doctor about treatment options.

About Dr. Merrill

headshot of Dr merrill
Dr. Andrew Merrill is a passionate active clinician and owner of Nightlight Chiropractic Orlando where him and his team treat hundreds of patients each month. With a strong background in exercise science from Stetson University, clinical skills from Palmer College of Chiropractic, and continued postdoctoral training in spinal disc injuries and clinical nutrition, Dr. Merrill is very well versed in the healthcare landscape. With topics ranging from "what to do for common ailments" to "why the medical system is failing you" Dr. Merrill and this blog in particular aim to keep readers up to date on what the research shows and how you can put it into practice NOW to keep yourself healthy for a lifetime.