Do you often wake up with a sore back? When you wake, do you feel tired instead of alert and ready for the day ahead? If so, then there might be an issue with the quality of your sleep.
As our busy chiropractic clinic in Ealing, our chiropractors often see patients who complain of feeling stiff, sore, or tired in the morning. We inform these patients that the quality of their sleep is directly linked to the health of their spine, before offering some tips for getting a better night’s sleep.
In this post, our Ealing chiropractor share some of the information that we normally give to these patients. He’ll explain how sleep and spinal health are related, before offering a few tips for getting a better night’s sleep.
How Does Better Sleep Help Your Back?
There are several ways that sleep affects the health of the spine, including:
The spine is made up of vertebrae, spinal discs, and cartilage. Its primary roles are to protect the spinal cord and support movement.
As you perform daily activities like walking, running, and sitting, gravity will apply force on the spinal column, causing compression. Laying down and getting a good night’s sleep takes the pressure off and gives the spine time to decompress.
Spinal Discs Can Rehydrate
Spinal discs act as shock absorbers for the spinal column. They prevent the vertebrae bones from rubbing into one another and provide some additional structure to the spinal column.
Spinal discs have a tough, rubbery outer layer called the annulus fibrosus, which encases a soft gelatinous centre called the nucleus pulposus. During the day, the discs will naturally lose and gain water as they absorb shocks, then rehydrate. This process is called intradiscal fluid exchange.
However, the time you spend sleeping is when the discs really get a chance to rehydrate, as they will not be under as much pressure. Getting a good night’s sleep will ensure that they can fully rehydrate and remain healthy.
The Body Gets A Chance To Heal
While you are sleeping, your body is busy producing and circulating growth hormones, nutrients, and stem cells. They perform several roles including the healing of damage tissue, reduction of inflammation, and pain relief.
When you get a great night’s sleep, your body will have plenty of time to release these components. This ensures the bones, muscles, and ligaments of the spine have time to fully rejuvenate.
Conversely, if you struggle to get enough sleep, you may feel more sensitive to back pain, your inflammation levels may increase, and you may struggle to recover from injuries.
Improving The Quality Of Your Sleep
There are several ways to get a better night’s sleep, including:
Practise Better Sleep Hygiene
Sleep hygiene refers to habits which are related to sleep. Practising ‘good’ sleep hygiene will help you enjoy a more restful sleep. Some tips include:
- Be consistent
Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. This will help your body get into the habit of sleeping at a certain time, making it easier to fall asleep.
- Make your bedroom a sleep-friendly environment
Your bedroom should be a relaxing space that is dark, quiet, and a comfortable temperature.
- Be careful about the food you eat before bed
Don’t eat a large meal before bed and avoid foods high in sugar or caffeine.
- Avoid the use of electronic devices before bed
Electronic devices are very stimulating to the human brain, so using a phone or laptop before bed can make sleep difficult. They can also emit blue light, which tricks the brain into thinking it is daytime, which makes it hard to sleep.
- Relax before bed
Spend some time stretching, meditating, listening to music, or visualising before bed. If you jump into bed fully relaxed, you will enjoy a much better sleep,
Get Plenty Of Exercise
Enjoying a restful sleep is much easier if you are physically tired. The simplest way to become physically tired is to incorporate a cardiovascular workout into your day. Any activity will do, including riding a bike, swimming, running, walking, or playing team sports. If you haven’t exercised for a while and are unsure where to start, make a booking with our chiropractic clinic and we’ll share some tips.
Change Your Sleep Position
The way you lay in bed can have a significant impact on your spine. The best way to sleep is either:
- On your back with a thin pillow
- On your side with a higher pillow and a small pillow tuck between your knees
Both of these positions will keep your spine naturally aligned which relieves pressure on muscles, ligaments, and spinal discs. If possible, avoid sleeping on your stomach. It will place excessive strain on the spine and you will be forced to place your neck at an awkward angle.
Get A New Bed
In some cases, the quality of your mattress can have a significant impact on your sleep. Replace your mattress if any of the following is true:
- The mattress is over 10 years old
- It feels very saggy and lacking support
- Your allergies play up after sleep
- There are cups in the mattress
- A dip has developed in the middle of the mattress
- The mattress creaks when you lay on it
It’s also a good idea to replace your sheets and pillow every year or two. This will improve the quality of your sleep.
Visiting our Ealing Chiropractors
If you are having problems with your sleep, or are suffering pain or discomfort, our chiropractors at The Spine & Join Centre in Ealing are here to help. To book an appointment wih one of our chiropractic team call 020 8900 9004.