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How Chronic Back Pain Can Affect Your Sleep And Well-Being

How Chronic Back Pain Can Affect Your Sleep And Well-Being

Those who have suffered from chronic back pain understand how challenging it can be to get a good night’s rest. The niggling pain can interrupt your sleep, causing you to stay awake throughout the night.

Unfortunately, studies have shown a correlation between sleep problems and back pain. Since the discomfort prevents an individual from falling asleep, they are unable to undergo restorative sleep that can alleviate the pain. This vicious cycle will only lead to a downward spiral of increased pain and less sleep.

As such, people living with chronic back pain may well be at risk of suffering from long-term sleep deprivation, which will only aggravate the situation further. This is because as we sleep, we cycle through light sleep, slow-wave sleep, and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. To achieve restful and restorative sleep, we will require a healthy balance of all three stages, especially the latter two.

However, chronic back pain can disrupt this sleep cycle, interfering with the progression of the sleep stages, leading to less restful sleep. When this scenario occurs, you may find your chronic back pain worsening over time since the recovery process typically initiated when one achieves deep sleep is halted.

So if you have been experiencing chronic back pain, you might be concerned about your current situation. But fret not! Allow us to share several practical strategies you can adopt to improve your overall sleep quality.

How your chronic back pain may impact your sleep

However, let us first explore in-depth the bi-directional relationship between sleep and pain so we can better understand how one impacts the other and vice-versa. Let us examine how back pain can create several obstacles that can hamper our ability to obtain adequate rest.

1. Enhanced awareness of the pain

During bedtime, the tranquil atmosphere, devoid of any distractions, can increase your awareness of your chronic pain, making it more challenging for you to fall asleep.

2. Lack of exercise can lead to sleep problems

Studies have shown that moderate-to-vigorous exercises can reduce sleep onset and increase a person’s sleep quality. However, if you are suffering from chronic back pain, your condition will likely prevent you from engaging in any strenuous activities during the day, thus reducing your chances of acquiring sufficient rest at night.

3. Challenging to find a comfortable sleeping position

Your chronic back pain will likely dictate your sleeping position, as specific sleeping positions may aggravate your condition. You will have to experiment to find the optimum position, and if it is not your usual sleeping position, you may require additional time to adjust to it.

How poor sleep can aggravate your back pain

Research has shown that the relationship between back pain and sleep is bi-directional, meaning that inadequate rest may worsen your back condition. Let us share how this may be possible.

1. Inadequate sleep may trigger inflammation of your back pain

Studies have shown a link between increased inflammation and sleep disturbances. This is because sleep deprivation may contribute to deregulated immune responses with increased pro-inflammatory signalling, leading to a higher risk of your back condition worsening.

2. Poor sleep may reduce your body’s pain tolerance

Your chronic back condition may contribute to sleep disturbances that intensify your sensitivity to pain, as sleep loss amplifies the pain-sensing regions in the brain, further aggravating an already testy situation.

3. Sleep deprivation impacts the release of growth hormones

Many people who have suffered from chronic back pain have reported that their symptoms are often alleviated after a good night’s rest. This is because our bodies release growth hormones during the night-time that relieve the pain and heal the body. But this process can be impacted by a lack of sleep.

How to obtain restorative sleep despite your chronic back pain

Given the correlation between chronic back pain and a lack of sleep, it is understandable for you to be concerned about what you can do to alleviate the situation. Fortunately, there are various ways for you to obtain restorative sleep despite the pain.

1. Loosen your back muscles before you sleep

While the thought of stretching your back might sound wince-inducing, this action can help to release muscle tension, decreasing muscular knots, which are responsible for increased pain and restrictions.

Alternatively, you can consider applying heat therapy, such as a heating pad, on the affected areas to help relieve and stretch the soft tissues around the spine, lessening your discomfort during sleep.

2. Adopt a new sleeping position

Specific sleeping positions can trigger and aggravate your chronic back pain. To minimise the risk of inflammation, you may want to consider adopting a sleeping position that helps to maintain the natural curvature of your spine.

If you are a side sleeper, we recommend curling into a foetal position and placing a pillow in-between your knees to help with spinal alignment and relieve pressure. Alternatively, if you are a back sleeper, you can consider sleeping with your knees elevated by a pillow and have another pillow tucked under your head to reduce stress on your pressure points and promote spinal alignment.

3. Get a new mattress

Back pain can be exacerbated by an old and saggy mattress, as it no longer provides the user with adequate spinal support, which is crucial to attaining quality sleep. Furthermore, a saggy mattress that has lost its form puts additional pressure and strain on your back muscles.

Bedtime Routine

At Four Star, we understand how chronic back pain can affect those looking to attain a peaceful slumber. Our Chiro+ mattresses are specifically designed to address these concerns by providing users with optimum orthopaedic support to alleviate their discomfort.

Featuring a Hexa-Coil Individual Pocketed Spring System, our back-care mattresses boast durability and high firmness, so you can rest assured you will receive adequate spinal support to help you achieve a good night’s sleep.

Additionally, our mattresses are made from Dupont™ Sorona®, which is an eco-efficient performance fibre made from plant-based ingredients. This differs from traditional fibre found in many mattresses, which is crude oil-based and potentially damaging to the environment. As such, you can look forward to achieving a peaceful and pain-free slumber with our eco-mattresses without worrying about any harmful impact on the environment.


Having chronic back pain does not mean a peaceful night of slumber is unattainable. By adopting a stretching routine to lessen the tension in your back muscles and with a slight adjustment to your sleeping position and sleep environment, you may soon find yourself getting the well-deserved rest you need to stay energised for the next day!

If your mind is set on changing your sleep environment, you can consider browsing our extensive catalogue or head down to our Four Star showrooms to experience our bedding products first-hand! From latex mattresses to king-sized storage beds, you are guaranteed to find the ideal mattress to suit your sleeping needs.


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