Prioritize Sleep: How Sleep Hygiene Impacts Your Back Pain

Prioritize Sleep: How Sleep Hygiene Impacts Your Back Pain


We all know how important sleep is, especially if you have back pain. Good sleep hygiene can make a huge difference in reducing your risk of chronic back pain.

The National Sleep Foundation defines “sleep hygiene” as habits to promote restful sleep and prevent fatigue, insomnia, and poor health.

Some important components of sleep hygiene include:

  • Avoiding caffeine close to bedtime.
  • Establishing a relaxing bedtime routine.
  • Keeping your bedroom dark and comfortable.
  • Establishing regular sleeping hours.
  • Avoiding screens and electronics in the evening.
  • Exercising regularly (but not close to bedtime).

Research has found that practicing proper sleep hygiene for three months reduces back pain, neck stiffness, and muscle pain. Plus, getting enough rest helps you feel more alert during the day, with increased energy.

But, not getting enough rest or practicing bad sleep habits increases the risk for long-term back pain, impacting quality of life.

The Impact of Sleep on Back Pain

Sleep and back pain? Most folk don’t think of them together. But research shows that getting good sleep is a top-notch way to manage and avoid back pain. Let’s learn how sleep hygiene can help!

Lack of Sleep Can Increase Back Pain

Around 70-80% of people suffer from back pain at some point in their life. Sleep deprivation is linked to this. It can cause increased muscle tension, inflammation and pain.

Poor sleep quality can cause poor performance the day after, such as slower reaction time and less focus. It can also lead to more musculoskeletal issues, which add to the problem.

If sleep deprivation is a factor in back pain, it should be prioritized. This means:

  • Leaving electronics out of the bedroom.
  • Trying relaxing activities before bed.
  • Exercising during the day.
  • Creating a ‘sleep friendly’ environment.
  • Finally, setting a consistent schedule for weekdays and weekends.

All of these strategies could help improve the quality of sleep.

Poor Sleep Quality Can Increase Back Pain

It’s estimated that up to 80% of people will experience back pain in their lives. Poor sleep quality can worsen existing back pain, and cause more intense future episodes. Research indicates that bad sleep is a big risk factor for chronic back pain, particularly for those with insomnia.

Not getting 7 hours of sleep each night harms tissue healing and increases inflammation. This can lead to injuries due to movements made to compensate for tiredness. Bad sleep can also overload the fight-or-flight stress response, stopping optimal recovery from conditions such as arthritis and spondylitis.

Poor sleep quality has also been linked to poor posture and back pains during the day. This is because deep sleep is needed for muscle regeneration, and 4th stage NREM sleep is especially important. So even if you get enough sleep, you are still at risk unless you practice healthy sleep routines.

To do this, stick to regular bedtimes and avoid any environmental triggers just before bedtime, like mobile device use or caffeine.

Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene is a phrase used to refer to many practices intended to help one achieve restful, restorative sleep. It includes aspects of the environment such as temperature and sound, as well as what time we go to bed and wake up. Studies have linked bad sleep hygiene to joint pain, stress, and depression.

This article will explain how sleep hygiene affects back pain and discuss ways to prioritize sleep every night.

Establish a Sleep Routine

Set up a bedtime routine for cueing the body that it’s bedtime. Cut out caffeine, alcohol, and other stimulants later in the day. Calm the body down with activities such as stretching or warm baths. Try to sleep at the same time every night, even on days off. Allow enough time for 6-9 hours of sleep depending on age, for good restorative rest. Invest in a good mattress for those with back pain.

Create a Sleep Environment

Creating a great sleeping space is vital for healthy sleep. Keeping a nightly routine will aid the body in preparing for sleep. Make sure the bedroom is dark and cool, around 65°F with little noise. Make the bedroom a place only for sleep. Don’t place any technology like work or home electronics in the bedroom. The light from screens can disrupt the circadian rhythm and make it harder to sleep.

To make the atmosphere restful, add scents like lavender or a white noise machine, even if there’s a lot of outside noise. Invest in a mattress that suits your sleeping style, like side, back or stomach. Buy a supportive pillow to help improve alignment and ease back pain when sleeping on the side or back.

Avoid Stimulants Before Bed

It’s essential to understand that stimulants, like caffeine, alcohol or nicotine, consumed before bed can have a negative influence on your sleep. Their effect depends on dosage and when taken, so best to avoid them 4-6 hrs before bedtime.

Caffeine is a familiar stimulant that has great impacts on sleep and wakefulness. It can keep us awake during the day, but it can also disturb the deep and restful sleep stages due to its “half-life” that may last up to 10 hrs in some cases. It’s wise to avoid caffeine after lunchtime and reduce intake beforehand, if possible. Baby steps are best for this change, with close observation of effects and benefits.

Alcohol is another type of stimulant used to relax after a long day or for social gatherings. But, though it may help you fall asleep, research shows it causes disruptions at night which lowers sleep quality and length. So, limit your overall amount of alcohol each day. This can improve both the quantity and quality of sleep, and benefit pain levels caused by lack of sleep at night.

Exercise Regularly

Regular physical exercise is key to staying healthy. It has been proven to aid sleep. Working out in the late afternoon or early evening can make it hard to sleep due to body heat and adrenaline. It’s best to exercise in the morning or four hours before bedtime.

Too much exercise – more than two hours a day – can interfere with sleep.

Exercise reduces tension and stress, which are major factors for people with chronic back pain. It boosts blood flow and circulation, reducing inflammation in muscles and joints. Exercise promotes endorphin release which can lessen chronic back pain and better sleep too. Plus, physical activity shifts your circadian rhythm so you feel sleepy when it’s time for bed.


Sleep is vital for managing back pain. A comfy mattress, dark room and regular bedtime routine are important for good sleep hygiene. Create an evening ritual to relax before bed and avoid activities or conversations that add stress. Sleep helps the entire body recharge; invest in quality mattress and pillow products and establish good sleep habits.

Improve sleep hygiene to manage your back pain and gain energy to live life to the fullest.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How much sleep do I need each night to reduce my back pain?

A: The recommended amount of sleep varies depending on age, but adults typically need 7-9 hours of sleep per night to maintain good overall health, including reducing the likelihood of back pain.

Q: How does poor sleep hygiene contribute to back pain?

A: Poor sleep habits, such as irregular sleep patterns, sleeping on an uncomfortable mattress, or not getting enough sleep, can contribute to back pain by depriving the body of the rest and recovery it needs to repair damaged tissues in the back.

Q: What are some effective sleep hygiene practices to reduce back pain?

A: Some effective sleep hygiene practices to reduce back pain include maintaining a consistent sleep-wake schedule, sleeping on a comfortable and supportive mattress, avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine before bedtime, and creating a relaxing sleep environment.

Q: Can certain sleeping positions aggravate back pain?

A: Yes, sleeping in certain positions, such as on your stomach, can place undue stress on the back and aggravate existing pain. Sleeping on your back or side with a pillow between your knees can help alleviate pressure on the back.

Q: Will exercise improve my sleep hygiene and reduce my back pain?

A: Yes, regular exercise can improve sleep hygiene by regulating the sleep-wake cycle and reducing stress levels. Exercise has also been shown to reduce the incidence and severity of back pain.

Q: When should I see a doctor about my back pain?

A: If your back pain persists despite practicing good sleep hygiene habits, or if you experience numbness or weakness in your legs or arms, it is important to see a doctor. They can help diagnose the underlying causes of your pain and recommend appropriate treatment options.

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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