Today’s episode is entitled “How to sleep well with low back pain / sciatica?” You will learn:
- The importance of preparing for bed to sleep well with low back pain / sciatica
- The value of supports in bed
- The impact of attention when trying to sleep well with low back pain / sciatica
- The value of medication
- The value of meditation
The importance of preparing for bed to sleep well with low back pain / sciatica
Many people feel worse when they are lying in bed with back pain / sciatica, and many feel worse first thing in the morning. There is an inevitability about that, hence the importance of preparing for bed. Minimize your symptoms as much as you can before you even get to bed. I would recommend a combination of body and mind. Do some reliever exercises, some movements that ease your repeating. Use some ice packs or some heat, whichever works best relieving your pain and winding down. This is the mind element. Don’t use screens that give off a blue light, turning the lights down themselves, and slowly winding down. A warm drink, reading some fiction, taking yourself out of the harsh realities. Let your mind calm down.
Meditation is huge for many people, although many people prefer meditating first thing in the morning and using relaxation techniques at bedtime, which is perhaps more helpful. For a lot of people meditation and relaxation are interchangeable, but a classic one is what we call progressive muscular relaxation, where you just lie there. Perhaps starting with your head, do these sort of contract or relax or starting at the feet. Tense up the muscles of your feet and then relax them and then do the backs of your calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, in turn, tensing your muscle group up and then relaxing. That really helps to wane many people down faster than just lying there, trying to relax.
The value of supports in bed
It’s very important that your mattress supports your natural curves. The mattresses job is to support your curves, so make sure that yours has some give in it. Some people swear by lying on the floor and say they are much less uncomfortable lying on the floor when they have back pain / sciatica. Usually they are flat backed people, without many curves in their back. If you’re a very flat back person, you may find the floor more comfortable than your mattress. You can use pillows and other props to support yourself in a position that is least painful. For many people all positions are painful. It’s just a question of working out which position is least painful and also accepting that actually, any position that you stay in for long will become more painful. That’s because of the inflammation builds up while you lie still.
For example, let’s take sciatica. If you have pain on the right side, then very often it may be that for you arching your back over to the left. Bending to the left opens up that right side and eases the pressure on the nerve and eases your pain. The way to achieve that in bed is to lie on your left side with a rolled up towel or a pillow wedged under your waist, acting as a fulcrum. This’ll push you up on that side and open up the right side of your lower back. You might find that bending the left knee up, the one in contact with the mattress, and straighten the right one down again. That opens up the right side and eases the pressure on any nerve that you have there.
Now that might be the most comfortable or least uncomfortable position in the short term, but staying like that in bed for an hour, two hours, three hours, will inevitably become sore, so move around. You may need to use the supports in different ways, use a pillow, some towels, prepare yourself. Get a pillow for between your thighs, just above the knees to keep them separated. This is normally in the sideline position that would help to stabilize your pelvis and stop your kind of ruling forwards or backwards. Often having a pillow between your knees is helpful. Laying with a pillow behind the backs of your knees can also be helpful to ease some strain on your lower back.
The impact of attention when you try to sleep well with low back pain / sciatica
I have an equation for the severity of the pain that you will experience. One of the variables has to do with attention. The more attention you pay to each body part, the more pain you’re likely to experience from it. When you’re in bed at night, there is a lack of sensory input. It’s dark and quiet. so the senses that you do have tend to be heightened. You are more aware of other sensations, like pain. Being in a dark quiet room in a state of mind where you’re trying not to think about anything, your mind will keep returning to that painful body part. The more you actively think about your lower back being sore, the more sore it is going to feel. Keep busy, read a book, prepare for bed, do things that take your mind away from your lower back pain.
The value of meditation
There are meditations for pain. If you have a look on our website, active hyphen x.co.uk, and just search in the search box a meditation for pen, hopefully you will find one there. If not, then send us a message to complain because our website wouldn’t be working. So that’s the impact of attention.
The value of medication
Don’t use analgesics pain killers in order to suppress your pain and do things that would otherwise be painful. Avoid doing things that would increase your pain. If you take medication so that you can do those things, you will slow up your rate of healing. Don’t use medication to do more. There’s a time and a place for medication. If you can’t sleep because of the pain, you should take medication to lessen your pain experience and get sleep. Sleep is important for rehabilitating from pain and just in general health maintenance. The more sleep deprived you are, the higher level of pain you will experience. Consult a registered medical practitioner. If you have true nerve compression of sciatic nerve or one of its tributaries, it doesn’t respond well to analgesics. There are different classes of drugs that help with that kind of pain.