It’s common to associate sleep-related back issues with uncomfortable sleep positions or a mattress that’s not as supportive as it could be. While these are certainly valid sources of spine-related aches and pains that should be addressed, a lack of sleep can be equally bad for your back and its various parts. Here are four reasons not getting enough sleep is bad for optimal spine health.
When we sleep, the body gets rid of certain waste products, including ones associated with the inflammatory process and response. When tissue swelling occurs around your spine, you’ll be more likely to have some degree of discomfort. Existing back pain can be more of an issue as well if inflammation isn’t kept in check. One study also associated insufficient sleep with an overactive immune system. What this can do is contribute to more inflammation throughout your body, including the area around your spine.
A different study found individuals who reported not getting sufficient sleep and who were subjected to pain stimuli reported higher pain ratings when compared to what was reported by well-rested subjects. The conclusion here is a lack of sleep appears to increase sensitivity to pain. A University of California study showed similar results and associated the findings with increased pain amplification in the brain.
Further research on the impact of insufficient sleep shows all it takes is a single night of sleeping for six hours or less to affect how pain is perceived. A lack of sleep has also been associated with a boost in anxiety, which is another factor that can affect how pain is experienced and interpreted. Therefore, getting a good night’s sleep is something you should strive to do every single night. Increase your odds of achieving this goal by:
• Having a consistent sleep schedule
• Creating a comfortable sleep environment
• Putting away electronics, turning off your TV, and avoiding other possible distractions
• Focusing on productive sleep habit
Sleep is also what helps the body build and produce natural painkilling hormones and other substances that produce similar results. This was confirmed to some extent by a study in which subjects who slept for 10 hours were able to keep their fingers on heat sources significantly longer than individuals who slept for eight hours or less. This suggests sufficient sleep may decrease pain if you’re experiencing existing back pain from another source or recovering from a spine-related procedure.
As for what constitutes a lack of sleep, this generally includes anything less than 7–8 hours of high-quality sleep per night. If you believe a lack of sufficient sleep may be affecting your back, see what your doctor or Santa Monica spine surgeon has to say. This is also something to do if new or worsening spine pain is affecting your ability to sleep well.
For those who are experiencing sleep issues associated with recurring back pain and want to know about minimally invasive back surgery and spinal fusion alternatives, Santa Monica residents can get in touch with Dr. Hyun Bae at The Spine Institute. Dr. Bae can determine the best course of action to help you find relief for your pain. Call 310-828-7757 today to schedule an appointment.