Back pain can ruin any number of things, but it especially makes getting a good night of sleep impossible. We all know how important it is, especially good, restful sleep. When we don’t sleep, we don’t feel good. This is a vicious cycle, but, thankfully, there are ways to challenge it.
Eat to Heal Joint Pain
A balanced diet is important to us all, but there are foods we can add to reduce joint pain and help us sleep better at night. Moreover, there are things we can cut out to reduce inflammation and ease the pain we experience. Red meat, shellfish, oils high in omega-6 like safflower, and sugar can increase inflammation and pain, especially at night. We already eat many of the foods we need to reduce pain, but not enough of them. Foods heavy in vitamin C and D are both excellent, so fortified milk, peppers, and citrus are important. Tart cherries, or tart cherry juice, are easy to add to our diets and provide plenty of relief. Cruciferous or brassica vegetables are excellent additions, as are ginger and bone broth. If it is leafy and dark green, add more of it to your diet, especially cabbage and broccoli. The flavonoids in blueberries reduce inflammation, which, in turn, ease joint pain. Your diet really can transform how you sleep at night.
Yoga for Relief
Inflammation is one of the key sources of back pain, especially when we try to sleep. One excellent way to reduce that, other than diet, is to incorporate yoga into your daily routine. The practice can lower stress and help the body reduce inflammation. When we have back pain, however, we need to treat our bodies carefully to avoid injury. This is why it is important to talk to your doctor and research which poses are best for your personal conditions. If you do take up a routine, make sure you master the basics before trying advanced stretches. Ease into it, and use tools when you need to, such as a strap or yoga block, to prevent pulling or overstretching a muscle. When done regularly, you may notice drastic improvement both in sleep and flexibility.
Find the Best Sleep Posture
Your position as you sleep can contribute to how much pain you experience, and thereby how well you sleep at night. You may not have to completely change your posture, but simply adjust itto make it more comfortable. Sleeping on your stomach is possibly the worst for backaches, but you can mitigate this by putting a pillow under your pelvis to alleviate pressure on your spine. Whether you use a pillow under your head is up to you and your personal comfort. Side sleepers should curl up into the fetal position and put a pillow between their knees. If you choose to snooze on your back, putting a pillow under your knees can keep your spine correctly curved and lower pain. This is the best position for pain as it keeps your weight from putting pressure on any one spot over another. Make sure your mattress is not adding to your discomfort, as often they can greatly increase the pain we feel at night and the morning after.
Mindfulness Techniques for Relaxation
It may seem far-fetched, but adding mindfulness techniques to your daily routine can help manage your pain. Studies suggest that these practices, when engaged in regularly, can have lasting effects on how well we feel. These techniques, whether meditation or something like tai chi, can also change how we think about pain, and how we experience it. Learning to breathe through our spikes in pain and flare-ups can lessen the experience but also the anxiety attached to it, which, in turn, can help us sleep better at night.
Back pain can feel debilitating, but it does not need to control our lives or how we sleep. Add plenty of good foods to your diet, start a yoga and mindfulness practice, and make sure your sleeping posture is best suited for back pain. If you do, you may notice a marked improvement in how you feel and how rested you are when you wake each day.
Written by: Cheryl Conklin (Wellness Central)
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