Back Pain
Dr. Nancy
Sleep

The Link Between Poor Sleep and Back Pain

March 25, 2019

"If you have back pain, you need to do everything you can to get adequate, quality sleep each night."

Today’s video is for back pain sufferers. Dr Nancy Lin, PhD examines the very unique link between back pain and sleep loss. Poor sleep and back pain can be a vicious cycle that can be hard to break without intervention.

Dr. Nancy gives you the tools to bring the cycle!

Video Highlights

  • 00:42: There is an interesting connection between back pain and sleep
  • 01:12: This connection works both directions, not just one
  • 01:59: Researchers have discovered multiple ways poor sleep contributes to back pain
  • 02:15: Interrupted sleep affects the part of the brain that dulls pain signals
  • 03:16: This amplified perception of pain makes sleep harder
  • 03:45: The worse your quality of sleep, the worse your pain gets
  • 04:31: Poor sleep over-activates your immune system and increases inflammation
  • 06:07: Compromised sleep is directly related to increased pain the following day
  • 07:26: Poor sleep is also directly correlated to anxiety and worry
  • 08:15: Sleep loss interferes with the efficacy of conventional pain meds
  • 09:30: Natural ways to improve sleep quality
  • 10:36: Certain snacks eaten at night can help your body produce more melatonin
  • 11:34: Turn of electronics and wi-fi
  • 12:00: Eat foods that boost serotonin
  • 13:00: Eat foods rich in tryptophan
  • 14:29: Increase melatonin, serotonin, & tryptophan through natural supplementation

What Could be Causing Your Back Pain

Back pain is very different than joint pain and other pains in the body, because it can be caused and aggravated by so many different factors, including emotions and stress.

Particularly, this post will focus on the interesting connection between back pain and sleep. We tend to think of back pain as something that inhibit sleep, as painful knots or spasms can make it difficult to get to sleep or stay that way. But this link works in the other direction as well! Sometimes not sleeping can be the source of your back pain. Work, relationships, and other stressors may contribute to poor sleep, of course, but the direct link between poor sleep and back pain is very unique. If you suffer from back pain, it's really important to understand this connection.

Medical researchers have discovered that there are quite a few ways that increases back pain. All that tossing and turning in bed may be contributing to or even causing your back issues.

Six Ways Poor Sleep is Linked to Back Pain

  1. Scientists have discovered that a night of interrupted sleep—tossing and turning throughout the night—effects a part of the brain that dulls pain signals throughout the body. So your sleep hiccups are actually amplifying the normally weak signals of discomfort from your back to your brain, turning them into big pain signals. So if you're not sleeping well, the part of your brain that normally helps you subdue discomfort is turned off. To make matters worse, the new perceived pain makes it harder to sleep, turning it into a vicious cycle. Talk about a nightmare, right?
  2. Researchers have also found that the worse your quality of sleep, the worse your pain gets. Very often, people who complain often about pain, or seem to have a low pain tolerance for pain, may be extra sensitive to pain because of their poor sleep.
  3. There is also inflammation linked to both back pain and poor sleep. If you have watched our past videos, you know that inflammation will lead to pain. Poor sleep actually leads to more inflammation. Poor sleep activates your immune system, and an overactive immune system increases inflammation. So if you are dealing with sleep issues, you really need to do everything you can to keep your inflammation down, including using an anti-inflammatory diet, and using a powerful, natural, inflammation fighting supplement, such as Smarter Curcumin, to lower your inflammatory load.

  1. When your sleep is compromised, there's a direct correlation to increased pain the following day. Poor sleep has a hangover effect on your body, causing a tangible ache and discomfort in the body, which can even effect your judgement and brain function. This can be caused by the back pain that was caused by poor sleep the previous nights, but it also turns normally tolerable joint and muscle discomforts into roaring monsters. One study showed that less than 6 hours of sleep in one night resulted in a significant increase in reported pain the following day. The quality of sleep is more important than the quantity, but you still want to aim for 7 - 8 hours per night.
  2. There's also a direct correlation between poor sleep and anxiety or worry. It can even cause you to lose some of the adaptability you would normally have to life changes.
  3. Sleep loss also interferes with the efficacy of conventional pain medications. This can set up an even worse vicious cycle for those who use pain medications, causing you to increase your medication dosage to get a handle on the pain.

The bottom line is, if you have back pain you need to do everything you can to get adequate, quality sleep each night to get back onto the path of better health and a pain-free life. 

Here are some natural ways to improve the quality of your sleep and eventually rid yourself of those menacing, torturous bouts of tossing and turning that lead to pain the next day.

Natural Ways to Increase Melatonin and Improve Sleep

You've probably heard about melatonin, and how it can help improve your sleep by reestablishing a normal, healthy circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm is the internal biological clock that tells you when you need to sleep, or wake, or eat, and more. Establishing a normal circadian rhythm, including drowsiness at night, is going to improve with melatonin. 

 

Turn off electronics

Unplug your router or set it on a timer to turn off smart devices at a certain time every night. The blue light your screens emit can actually inhibit melatonin production.

Healthy snacks

Certain snacks eaten before bed will help your body produce good melatonin and improve your sleep. Bananas are one of the best snacks for doing this as well as grapes, cherries, walnuts, and more. Pineapples and chamomile tea also help relax your brain and lull you to relax.

Foods that regulate serotonin

Eat foods that boost sleep, regulating neurotransmitters known as serotonin, which helps you to de-stress and relax. One of the most powerful foods that increase serotonin levels is kiwis! In fact, studies have shown that a group who ate two kiwis an hour before sleep dramatically improved the quality of their sleep.

Foods rich in tryptophan

Tryptophan is an amino acid found in turkey and other foods. If you feel drowsy after Thanksgiving dinner, tryptophan is the reason! Foods high in tryptophan also include fish, chicken, eggs, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds. These foods are also good for blood sugar! Eat a date or a boiled egg an hour before sleep to increase tryptophan levels as well.

Natural Supplementation

However if getting the necessary levels of melatonin, serotonin, and tryptophan through eating these foods doesn't sound good to you or isn't convenient, there are also great supplements that help!

Smarter Sleep supplements are a natural way to help your body wind down. It provides the right proven amount of melatonin for optimal sleep (3 mg) and also contains bioactive milk peptides. These are used widely in Europe as a daily supplement for naturally induced sleep. It also helps increase tryptophan levels naturally, which results in increased serotonin. It's safe, and non-addictive too!

Click here for more sleep tips and an easy to follow regimen and plan for better sleep.

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