Back Pain and Insomnia: How to Improve Your Sleep

Back Pain and Insomnia: How to Improve Your Sleep

Understanding the Link Between Back Pain and Insomnia

Studies show a relation between back pain and insomnia. If a person has chronic back pain, they are very likely to suffer from insomnia. This lowers their quality of life. It is essential to comprehend this connection to find ways to get better sleep.

This article will talk about the link between back pain and insomnia and give advice on how to sleep better.

Identify the physical and psychological causes of back pain

To tackle the link between back pain and insomnia, it’s important to find the root cause. Physical causes may include muscle or ligament strains, herniated discs, or spinal stenosis. Psychological causes may be related to stress, which can make the muscles along the spine tense or stiff.

Some health conditions, like arthritis, can also be linked to back pain. Meds prescribed for chronic pain can lead to sleep problems in the long term. Other medical issues related to sleep are thyroid imbalance, diabetes, and anxiety/depression.

Sleep deprivation can worsen physical and psychological conditions connected to back pain. It’s never too late to make lifestyle changes and get better sleep. Gentle exercise and relaxation activities, like yoga or meditation, can help. Reducing stress with these activities can also ease chronic muscle aches.

Understand the relationship between back pain and insomnia

Back pain and insomnia are closely linked. People with chronic back pain may struggle to sleep properly. This can lead to feeling exhausted when waking up. Poor quality or disrupted sleep can also worsen back pain. So, it’s important to manage both issues.

Medical advice and psychological support can help. Treatment plans should include reducing both pain and sleep disturbances. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) and relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) can assist. If individuals are unable to alleviate both conditions on their own, professional help is available.

Practical Tips to Improve Your Sleep

Battling back ache and sleeplessness? It’s a common problem. But don’t fret! There are practical tips to improve your sleep and reduce back pain. Here are some of them:

  • Establish a sleep schedule.
  • Keep regular bedtimes.
  • Avoid napping.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Try relaxation techniques.
  • Limit caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.
  • Put away electronics.

Implement good sleep hygiene practices

To get better sleep, practice good “sleep hygiene”. Here are four tips:

  1. Wake up and go to bed at the same times – even on weekends.
  2. Make your bedroom dark, cool, and clutter-free. Turn off electronics an hour before bedtime. Avoid working or checking emails in bed.
  3. Avoid sugar, caffeine, big meals, and alcohol late at night.
  4. Exercise regularly to regulate your circadian rhythm. But don’t exercise too close to bedtime. Intense exercise 4 hours or less prior to bedtime may make it harder to sleep.

Exercise regularly

Do physical activity to relax and get better sleep. Late afternoon or evening is the best time for exercise. Don’t do it before bedtime, it may stop you from sleeping. Choose activities suitable for your age and health. Low-impact exercises like swimming or walking can help with back pain. Speak to your doctor before changing your routine.

Relaxation methods can help you fall asleep faster and sleep longer. Find the best one for you. Try:

  • Deep breathing
  • PMR
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Guided imagery
  • Biofeedback
  • Massage
  • ART
  • Tai chi
  • Other mindfulness techniques

Use relaxation techniques

Good sleep hygiene is important to get better sleep. Before bed, try some deep breaths, progressive relaxation or guided imagery. Yoga and meditation can help soothe the mind and body. To help fall asleep, visualize a peaceful place that makes you feel calm and centered. Imagine “floating away” on a wave of comfort and relaxation.

Lower stress during the day by:

  • Being thankful
  • Exercising
  • Taking time for yourself
  • Getting organized
  • Listening to calming music
  • Limiting caffeine
  • Limiting screen time

Consider physical therapy

Physical therapy is vital in bettering your sleep and life if you experience back pain and insomnia. A PT might recommend exercises to lessen tension in the body. Stretches, posture alterations and other lifestyle shifts can help reduce pain and promote more restful sleep.

When it comes to PT for back pain and sleeplessness, overall health is essential. Your therapist may practice manual therapies, hydrotherapy, postural corrections or myofascial release to reduce tension. He or she might also urge you to become more active, practice meditation or make dietary changes. These tips intend to lessen pain with the goal of improving your sleep quality:

  • Become more active
  • Practice meditation
  • Make dietary changes

Medications to Help with Back Pain and Insomnia

Suffering from back pain and insomnia? Medications can help. There are lots of types available. We’ll explore them in this article so you can make the best decision. Sleep quality and back pain can be improved with the right meds.

Over-the-counter medications

Life and behavior changes can help with back pain and sleep. But, medications are also an option. Ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, and acetaminophen can reduce inflammation and provide relief. They also help with sleep due to their sedative effects. Caution is needed when using these medications, as side effects can occur if taken wrong or for too long.

Non-prescription sleeping pills contain antihistamines, which can be addictive and have adverse side effects. It is best to try other methods before taking them.

Prescription medications

Doctors often prescribe prescription meds as a first line of treatment for back pain and insomnia. For mild cases, OTC pain relievers like ibuprofen or naproxen may be used. In more severe cases, stronger opioids such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine or morphine could be prescribed.

For insomnia, hypnotic drugs like benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax, Valium) and non-benzodiazepines (e.g., Ambien) are sometimes prescribed. However, these drugs come with a high risk of side effects and dependency, so doctors will only prescribe them for short periods of time – usually two weeks.

Additionally, anti-seizure medications such as gabapentin or pregabalin are sometimes prescribed to help reverse nerve hypersensitivity related to both back pain and insomnia. A newer antidepressant like mirtazepine may also be used if necessary, to improve sleep quality without affecting mood during the day.

Alternative Treatments for Back Pain and Insomnia

Chronic back pain and insomnia? Ugh. People search for alternatives to prescription drugs for relief. Acupuncture, yoga, and more! Let’s explore some of the most popular treatments for back pain and sleepless nights:


Acupuncture is an ancient form of Chinese medicine that’s been around for over two thousand years! Tiny needles are used to stimulate your body’s own healing powers and balance it. It’s especially useful for treating certain areas of the body, like pain, stiffness, and insomnia. It’s believed these points are along “meridians”, which flow through the body and connect to organs. Stimulating these points is said to balance the body’s “qi,” or life force energy.

Acupuncture can be combined with other treatments such as massage, manual therapy, or movement techniques to relax tight muscles. Research shows that it can help improve sleep by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the part of the nervous system that helps us to rest. It increases serotonin levels in the brain, which modulates melatonin cycles, resulting in better sleep quality. Regular sessions of acupuncture not only reduce back pain, but they also help to reduce stress and aid with insomnia or other sleeping issues.

Massage therapy

Massage therapy can help with both back pain and insomnia. The physical touch relaxes and reduces muscle tension, which eases pain. It has even been seen to improve sleep. Different types of massage exist, like Swedish, which is light and gentle, or deep tissue, which uses slow strokes and pressure. Trigger point therapy could also be used on the area of back pain. Speak with your healthcare provider to find a massage therapist who knows how to treat back pain and insomnia for the best results.

Herbal remedies

Herbal remedies are a kind of alternative therapy used to treat a range of health issues. They can be effective for both back pain and insomnia. Herbal medicines are made from plants, roots, barks, leaves and stems. For centuries, these have been used in medical systems like Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda.

Herbs come in many forms – capsules, teas, tinctures, poultices and syrups. Some popular herbs for backache and sleeplessness include:

  • Valerian root – It may help with insomnia and reduce muscle tension/pain.
  • Kava Kava – This Pacific Island herb is good for anxiety and relaxing tense muscles.
  • Chamomile – This tea reduces anxiety and has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • St John’s Wort – This herb eases muscle tension, relieves stress and helps with depression.
  • Ginger root – It calms nerve pain and acts as an anti-inflammatory.

Consult a qualified practitioner before deciding on an herbal treatment plan. There are safety considerations like drug reactions and potential side effects.

When to See a Doctor

Having back pain and not being able to make it go away? Time to see a doctor! Get an appointment and they’ll figure out what’s up. Until then, there are things you can do to sleep better:

Seek medical advice if your symptoms persist

If your back pain or insomnia lasts over three days and two weeks respectively, consult a doctor. They can assess if physical therapy or medication is needed. Consider any existing conditions like anxiety, depression, or medical complications too.

Left untreated, some medical conditions can lead to chronic pain. Sciatica and degenerative disc disease may need non-surgical treatments like lifestyle modifications. Consulting with a doctor is the first step before more aggressive treatments.

On your own, reduce stress with relaxation or physical activity. Improve diet quality with whole foods and less caffeine. Working with a doctor will help design a plan tailored for you for better long-term health.

Consider seeking professional help if you have difficulty sleeping

Having difficulty sleeping? Professional help may be a good idea. It could be due to stress, mental health issues, or physical conditions. Consulting a doctor can help identify the cause and suggest treatments.

For example, back pain is often a factor in bad sleep. Your doctor can discuss the pain and check for underlying medical conditions. They can suggest lifestyle changes and medications to tackle the root problem.

Help may come in other forms, too. Psychologists can handle stress or PTSD-related sleeping issues. Psychiatrists specialize in psychological issues like depression, which can disrupt sleep. Working together, they can create methods to manage these conditions and give you more restful nights.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the connection between back pain and insomnia?

Back pain can be a source of great discomfort and can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. When you are experiencing back pain, it can be hard to find a comfortable position and this can keep you up at night. Lack of sleep, in turn, can exacerbate back pain and create a vicious cycle.

2. How can back pain affect the quality of your sleep?

Back pain can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep, leading to poor sleep quality. Additionally, when you are in pain, you may not be able to get into a deep sleep, which is necessary for restorative sleep. This can lead to waking up feeling tired and not refreshed.

3. What are some tips for improving your sleep with back pain?

Some tips for improving your sleep with back pain include sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees, using a firm mattress or mattress topper, and avoiding sleeping on your stomach. Additionally, stretching and exercising during the day can help alleviate back pain and promote better sleep.

4. How can regular exercise help with back pain and insomnia?

Regular exercise, such as yoga or swimming, can help improve back pain by strengthening the muscles in your back and reducing tension. Exercise can also lead to better sleep as it reduces feelings of stress and anxiety, which can keep you awake at night.

5. Should I take medication for my back pain and insomnia?

Taking medication for your back pain and insomnia should be done under the guidance of a medical professional. While medications may provide some temporary relief, they can also have side effects and may not address the root cause of your back pain and insomnia.

6. Are there natural remedies for back pain and insomnia?

Yes, there are natural remedies for back pain and insomnia, including practicing good sleep hygiene, such as creating a relaxing bedtime routine, reducing exposure to electronic devices before bed, and creating a comfortable sleep environment. Additionally, natural supplements such as magnesium, valerian root, and chamomile tea may help promote relaxation and better sleep.

the back recovery program by alex larsson
Jane Smith is a natural health enthusiast on a mission to uncover effective methods for achieving pain-free living. Through her personal journey with chronic back pain, she has become well-versed in holistic approaches such as yoga, Pilates, and essential oils.

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