Poor sleep leads to back pain

New research says that poor sleep contributes to back pain. The study looked at what factors caused people to seek medical care for back pain. Poor sleep was top of the list.

Most people have the odd sleepless night but for some, poor sleep can cause more back pain. Here we explain why sleep helps a bad back and give our top tips to sleep well and avoid back pain.

Up until now, only things like symptom presentation, age, gender, education level and work have been studied. Amazingly, some lifestyle factors have not been examined closely. In this trial, 1600 twins were enrolled and their health records probed. The results were surprising.

The only factor that increased the likelihood of seeing a doctor for back pain was poor sleep. Women were also more likely to seek help for low back pain. There was one other surprising thing to come out of this research.

Diet and habits have been researched in the past and the association with back pain is often unclear. In this study, however, alcohol consumption seemed to reduce the chances of getting back pain. Don’t take this the wrong way. Too much alcohol is known to increase inflammation in the body which is bad for back pain. Also, whilst you may drop off more quickly, a tipple too far disturbs sleep, especially the restorative deep sleep. So it seems that moderation is key with alcohol.

Sleep deprivation has been associated with many physical and mental health problems. Now we can add back pain to the list.

Complications of Insomnia – back pain now too

Why does poor sleep cause back pain?

We need seven to nine hours of sleep a night to be healthy. It has to be good quality sleep too. The recuperative powers of sleep occur in the later stages in the small hours. Growth hormones and other chemicals are released which aid healing and repair. The brain also has a chance to reset and this improves pain perception and the pain threshold. With lack of sleep, a mild ache can become unbearable.

If you have bad back pain then this too can disturb your sleep. Turning over and over to find a comfortable position can be hard. Even then, what was a comfortable position can become painful eventually. Getting your mattress and pillows sorted out helps with this. Click here to find out more:

Could your mattress be causing back pain?

If a new mattress is a bit of step too far then we have some fantastic tips to help you get a good nights sleep and improve your back pain.

How to improve sleep to improve a bad back?

All the usual suspects that we all know about can conspire to rob us of sleep. Here are our top tips for improved sleep:

  • The single most effective way of improving your sleep is to establish a regular bed-time and wake-up time (even at the weekend).
  • Reduce caffeine (coffee, cola, tea, chocolate) and alcohol intake
  • Make sure your bedroom is dark and not too warm (18 degrees is considered to be ideal)
  • Go to bed when sleepy (avoid daytime napping and sleeping on the sofa early/mid-evening)
  • Exercise for 30 minutes most days but not too late in the day – leave a 2-3 hour gap before bed
  • Remove gadgets and screens from the bedroom
  • Avoid going to bed too hungry or too full
  • Get some natural daylight in the afternoon – the sunnier the better

Sleep medications tend to sedate rather than assist with sleeping, often resulting in day-time grogginess. This often makes us reach for the caffeine which can make it more difficult to switch off at night.

Relaxation techniques can work very well and we have our Sundial Mindfulness Meditations to do the job. Click here.

And here is an amazing technique that we are also finding very helpful –



Factors associated with seeking medical care for low back pain in a twin adult sample