How well you sleep and what kind of bed you sleep on can affect your sciatica or back pain in several important ways:
As we’ve already seen, posture affects the spine – and that also applies to the posture you adopt when you’re in bed. It stands to reason that lying for hours on end in a bed with a sagging mattress that provides poor support and forces your spine, legs and neck to adopt uncomfortable positions is simply not going to make back pain or sciatica any the better.
A good restful night’s sleep is one of Nature’s greatest healers. Equally, tossing and turning all night is a sure-fire recipe for waking up the next morning feeling worse than when you went to bed, with a stiff, aching spine and your back muscles all knotted up.
The average adult grows in the night by as much as two centimetres. During the day the spine gradually becomes more and more compressed as the cumulative effect of gravity takes its toll. At night, as we lay down and the weight of our upper body no longer presses downward, the spine is given a chance to straighten and recover. Just how much straightening out and recovery takes place during sleep will be greatly affected by how suitable your bed is.
Confirmation of the importance that their sleeping arrangements hold for back pain sufferers was evidenced by a recent survey that discovered that 93 per cent of general practitioners interviewed agreed that a good new bed can help alleviate back problems. While this survey was admittedly carried out on behalf of a group of bed manufacturers with a vested interest in promoting the sale of their products, the essential message that emerges still remains true: the right kind of bed (although not necessarily a new one) can work wonders for anyone suffering from sciatica or other back problems.
Naturally, just as important as your choice of bed is how you sleep in it. Let us look at these two separate but interlinked questions one at a time, beginning with . . .