I often wonder if something mysterious happens at night. Every day I ask people if something happened that caused their back pain and they tell me that they “just woke up with it”. Sometimes the stiffness and soreness in the morning becomes a daily occurrence and you begin to dread going to sleep knowing what you will feel like in the morning. Other than some unknown person coming into your bedroom and roughing you up without your knowledge, what are the reasons that you might wake up stiff and sore?
What position are you sleeping in? The goal when you sleep is to try to keep your back and neck in a “neutral” alignment. This means that you don’t want your back and neck to be twisted, turned or bent while you sleep. Stomach sleeping is not good because you have your neck turned and back arched. Side or back sleeping is better. Use a thinner pillow under your head and a pillow under your knees if you are on your back. Consider an orthopedic style pillow if you sleep on your back. If you are a side sleeper, use a thicker pillow under your head and a pillow between your knees.
What condition is your mattress in? Remember the goal when you sleep is to try to keep your back and neck in proper alignment. Your mattress should support your alignment. If your innerspring mattress is more than 8 years old or sagging, it’s going to be time to replace it. Yes, I know it can be expensive. People sleep better, suffer less back pain and experience fewer symptoms of stress when sleeping on newer beds. Foam beds can also wear out and not be supportive. If you have an air bed your firmness may need to be adjusted. Before you go out and buy a new bed you could try sleeping on a different bed for a few nights to see if this makes a difference.
- Daytime Lifestyle
Your morning pain could actually be caused by what you do or don’t do during the day. Overuse or underuse of your back muscles and joints could cause pain in the morning. If you are sedentary during the day and then not moving during the night your muscles and joints are being deconditioned and are staying in a sustained shortened position for far too long. Your spine was made to be moved and stretched. Your daytime activities could also be building up a gradual irritation / inflammation that is coming to roost at night. Proper exercise and stretching during the day can alleviate your morning soreness.
- Underlying Condition
Your morning pain may simply be your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. If you have had morning pain / stiffness for more than a few days, it’s time to get checked out so you can sleep easy knowing what the real cause is.
It is important to note that your spinal discs will retain more fluid at night and your muscles will be less flexible in the morning because of inactivity. For this reason, is important to get out bed nice and easy and not do any bending, lifting and exercise for at least 30 minutes after you get up. Let your back muscles and joints wake up gently.
Stiffness can sometimes be a sign of joint dehydration so make sure you are drinking plenty of water. Consider stretching before bed and even using some heat for 20 minutes before bed to get you through the night better.
Hope you can stop dreading the morning and start feeling better.