Chronic pain impacts millions of Americans every single year and it can often cause sleepless nights. Sleep plays an important role in recovery from injuries and your energy levels for the day ahead. Take a look at how chronic pain can affect your sleep, some of the best sleeping positions for chronic pain, and ways in which physical therapy can help you with your chronic pain.
Chronic pain can cause sleepless nights as you toss and turn to try and find a comfortable position that doesn't cause pain or discomfort. Sleep plays an important function when it comes to injury recovery and inadequate amounts of sleep may even worsen chronic pain.
Some of the most common areas for chronic pain include shoulder pain, neck pain, knee pain, and back pain.
Depending on the sleep position, pressure or inadequate support could cause you to experience pain and discomfort where you experience chronic pain and drastically impact your sleeping patterns. Take a look at several sleeping positions for chronic pain.
Pillows play an important role in your ability to fall asleep and remain comfortable while dealing with chronic pain. Pillows can also have an impact on our ability to reduce some of the tension and strain we place on our bodies which can help to alleviate some of the chronic pain while sleeping.
Using a supportive pillow under your neck and shoulders can provide more support and alleviate some of the tension and discomfort you might experience in your upper back, shoulders, and neck. Pillows that provide adequate support can help reduce the likelihood of rolling over while you sleep and can help disperse your weight evenly across the pillow. Even dispersion of weight and staying in one position through the whole night can help you avoid waking up in the middle of the night as your body shifts or adjusts itself while you sleep.
The fetal position may help to alleviate some pain and discomfort and promote good sleep quality. This can be quite individualized based on the nature of the back pain. Individuals who experience disc and spinal issues can potentially find relief in the fetal position as they keep their back straight but bring their arms and knees close to their body.
When sleeping on your side in the fetal position, you want to take steps to make sure that your spine is aligned properly to avoid any added pressure on your lower back or neck. To ensure that your spine is properly aligned, sleep with a small pillow between your knees. Some pillows are also specifically designed for side sleepers and can help you protect your posture while you sleep.
Those that are suffering from shoulder and/or neck pain may benefit a lot from their painful arm "hugging" around a pillow while sleeping on their "good" side.
If you prefer to sleep on your back, added shoulder support can help you alleviate pain and discomfort in your shoulders and upper back. A small pillow between your shoulder blades can help raise your body up a bit more and help you avoid sinking into your mattress which can contort your body and cause discomfort in the middle of the night.
One of the best things you can do to alleviate back pain while you're sleeping is to support the natural curves of your spine. If you prefer to sleep on your back, you should consider placing a small pillow underneath your knees. A pillow underneath your knees will help you maintain the natural curves of your spine and help you avoid rolling over naturally into an uncomfortable position midway through the night.
For those who find it difficult sleeping on their stomach, back, or side, sleeping at an incline could be a great option for alleviating chronic pain while you sleep. When you sleep at an incline, you'll reduce some of the weight and pressure placed solely on your back. You don't need any fancy equipment to sleep at an incline, as you can stuff several pillows behind your back, neck, and head to prop your body up during the night.
Chronic neck pain can keep even the heaviest sleepers up at night who find it difficult to shift and move your pillow or body to find comfort. Consider putting a small towel or neck pillow under your neck to avoid having your neck slouch as you sleep. Waking up with neck pain can often stem from inadequate support for your neck and head as you sleep.
Adjusting your sleeping position can be a quick way to help you find relief for chronic pain while sleeping, but there are a handful of other tips and tricks you can take advantage of to sleep through the night. The first thing that you can do is to swap out your pillows. When your pillows get older, they can reduce their firmness and cause you to slouch and sink into them as you sleep which can cause discomfort and aggravate your chronic pain.
Often someone who experiences difficulty sleeping due to pain may need to address their activity and habits in the daytime hours. These can potentially be bigger issues than sleep position solely.
Avoid bright lights which can strain your eyes before bed. Try to stay away from late-night television or scrolling through your phone. Do your best to set and keep a consistent sleep schedule. Even the slightest changes in your normal sleep routines can have large impacts on your ability to fall and remain asleep. Avoid constantly shifting the time and schedule of your sleep routine which can cause your body to get out of whack when it comes to your sleep pattern.
Chronic pain doesn't need to slow you down and physical therapy can be an effective treatment option for alleviating chronic pain and helping you get back to doing the things you love most. Our licensed physical therapists are trained movement experts who work to treat the underlying causes of your chronic pain.
Schedule an appointment today at a PT clinic near you to see how physical therapy can help with your chronic pain!