Is there anything worse than crawling into your warm bed after a long, stressful day, relieved to finally go to sleep, and getting hit with stabbing pain in your body that keeps you up all night? No, we didn’t think so. Back, shoulder, and neck pain is the kind of all-consuming pain that is hard to ignore, especially when you are trying to sleep. It hits at the worst possible times and no matter what position you try, sleep just does not seem like an option. But getting good sleep, especially when your body is in pain, is crucial for your health. You should not sacrifice sleep just because you can’t seem to find a comfortable sleeping position, you just need to find a system that works for you.
Here are six sleep tips for easing back, shoulder, and neck pain:
Use a towel
If your lower back is the part that’s hurting, putting a towel under the small of your back can help relieve some of your pain. This will help to better align your spine and give you a more natural alignment, which can help with sleep. You can also try putting a rolled up towel in your pillowcase and positioning it underneath your neck to relieve neck pain.
Use an extra pillow between your knees
If you’re a side sleeper and need a way to alleviate pain in your head, neck, or back, consider using an extra pillow. Place the pillow between your knees and it will put your spine and hips in a more comfortable position and help you sleep more comfortably throughout the night.
Get a different pillow
The pillow that you are using might just be the cause of all your problems. Certain pillows cause strain on our body, so if you find that you are waking up sore, it does not hurt to get a different pillow. If you sleep on your back or stomach, opt for a very thin pillow. If you’re a side sleeper, a thicker pillow will probably be better for you. If you experience pain in your shoulder, consider using a pillow for rotator cuff pain that is designed to take pressure off the shoulder while you sleep.
Use a firm mattress
There is something so appealing about a fluffy, soft mattress, but not if you have back pain. A firm mattress is ideal for those with back issues, as it is much gentler on your back. This is because a firm mattress provides more back support, specifically on the lower lumbar region.
Improve your sleep routine
While the way you sleep might be the biggest contributor to your pain, improving your sleep routine can also have a big impact on your ability to fall asleep and allows your body to relax before bed. Instead of mindlessly scrolling on your phone for hours in bed, create a relaxing sleep routine that you strictly adhere to. Dim the lights in your room, avoid bright light, use aromatherapy, and read before bed to get your mind and body in the right state for sleep. Improving your sleep routine can work wonders on your ability to fall asleep and help relieve tension in your body.
Fix your positioning
The position you sleep in every night might be what is hurting you the most. Avoid sleeping on your stomach in general, as it can cause tension on your neck. Instead, sleep on either your back or side. If you sleep on your back, use a thin pillow and a supportive mattress. If you sleep on your side, avoid high pillows and make sure you keep your chin neutral.
Sleep deprivation is only going to worsen your pain in the long run. Getting good sleep at night when you have back, shoulder, and neck pain might seem impossible at times, but these tips will make the process a whole lot easier. Change your pillow, your bed, and your sleeping position and you will find yourself falling asleep easily and getting better rest in no time.
Tommy Williamson did his degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. He has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.
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