Neck and back pain are among the most common complaints for not getting a restful sleep. As a Chiropractor who treats patients with chronic pain, it is typical for a pain in the neck or waking up stiff to become more chronic when left untreated. Maintaining your spinal health is always my first recommendation, but there are simple tips you can follow at home to reduce your neck and back pain before bed.
Nightly Tips for Neck & Back Pain Relief
Here are some of the easiest tricks you can implement at home to alleviate neck and back pain before bed. When used consistently, these tips can also prevent neck and back pain from occurring in the first place.
1. Morning Range of Motion Stretches
Having a painless night’s sleep starts with the right morning routine. Take a few minutes in the morning before you start your busy day to complete some range of motion exercises for neck and back mobility. Stretches like neck extension, neck flexion, lateral neck flexion and small shoulder circles can improve your neck range of motion and flexibility.
To keep your lower back agile and loose, try some lumbar range of motion stretches like single knee to chest, child’s pose, supine twist and pelvic tilt. These lower back range of motion stretches can prepare your back for a day of movement and reduce the chance of injury. Stretching is particularly integral as we age and begin to lose our natural flexibility.
2. Hydrate Before Bed
Drinking water before bed has many benefits. A glass of warm water is an excellent option to detox toxins from the body and improve digestion. When toxins build up and become concentrated in your body, it can create extra pain when you try to rest and sleep.
3. Take a Hot Bath or Shower
Taking a hot bath or shower before bed helps improve circulation and relaxes muscles. If you take a bath, add some Epsom salts and soak for 20 minutes to stimulate circulation, decrease muscle cramps, and relieve joint stiffness. A warm bath or shower tricks the body by lowering core temperature helping you fall asleep faster.
4. Get a Firm Mattress
A firm mattress that doesn’t sag makes a considerable difference in optimal spine support. Keeping your lower back from collapsing also improves oxygen intake while you sleep. A firmer mattress takes pressure off your joints, muscles, veins and arteries.
5. Choose a Quality Pillow
When it comes to neck and spinal alignment, it’s imperative to choose a pillow that is the right size for you. Some pillows are too small or flat and don’t support the natural curve of your neck. A flat pillow also results in excess pressure on your shoulders when you side sleep. Pillows that are too large can torque your neck and lift your upper body creating a pressure point on your back. Pillows with copper infusions like the Winkzzz Renew reduce inflammation and help with joint swelling.
6. Break the Stomach Sleeping Habit
One of the worst things you can do for your lower back and neck is sleeping on your stomach. When you “stomach sleep” your head is twisted and torqued all night inflicting repetitive stress on your neck joints, ligaments, and shoulder muscles. Chronic lower back pain can also be related to stomach sleeping because the weight of your mid-section places strain on your spine.
7. Use an Extra Pillow for Support
Keep an extra pillow on your bed for additional back and spine support. If you struggle with back pain, sleep with a pillow under your legs when on your back. It is also recommended to use a pillow between your legs when sleeping on your sides. When you use a heavy comforter in the winter, place a pillow under the blanket at the end of the bed to take the additional comforter weight off your feet and legs.
8. Essential Oil for Relaxation & Pain Relief
An essential oil like lavender or citrus will help you fall asleep quickly as they promote feelings of relaxation. Rub essential oils like tee tree, magnesium, sandalwood, or rosemary on sore spots. For headache and migraine sufferers, apply peppermint oil on the temples, forehead, and neck before sleep can naturally alleviate pain.
Start Your Routine Tonight
Small changes can add up to tremendous pain relief when used consistently. It is best to try one or two tips and implement them into your nightly routine until they become habit. Then add a few more tips until you notice you are sleeping comfortably. These tips should not be used in lieu of medical examination and treatment. It is recommended to seek professional care if you sustain an injury or experience continual pain.
About the Author
Dr. William Heidary is a chiropractor with over 25 years of experience in the health and wellness sector. As Clinic Director/Owner of Back on Track Wellness Clinic, he has treated over 20,000 patients and specializes in chronic pain management. He has been a chiropractic provider to celebrities, musicians, and numerous professional athletes. Dr. Will is part owner and designer of Winkzzz, a customized pillow company and trusted sleep resource that strives to make a global impact on sleep for every-body!