If you have ever used the phrase "I must have slept funny" to explain why you woke up with an achy back, you’re not alone.
In fact, research shows one in three people experience back and neck pain after a single night's sleep.
Occasional back pain after sleeping can sometimes stem from your sleeping surface or from the position in which you sleep.
We got this email from a viewer:
Dear Dr. Manny,
Lately I have been waking up with a stiff and painful lower back, even when I don’t have pain the night before. What could be going wrong?
Simple changes may help relieve some of the strain your back may incur while you rest.
Many physicians suggest trying a new mattress if your bed is too hard or sags in the middle. Mattresses that are too stiff or too saggy do not properly support the joints, causing pain.
“To some extent there’s no magic formula because we're all different shapes and sizes, but it's a matter of finding a comfortable mattress,” Grant Wilson, a physiotherapist and the co-author of “7 Steps to a Pain-Free Life,” told FoxNews.com. “Most people are more comfortable with a reasonably firm mattress and certainly a solid base. A reasonably firm mattress keeps the spine straight and therefore lessens pressure on all the joints and the structures around the spine.”
How you sleep also impacts how you feel in the morning. It's estimated that 17 percent of people sleep on their backs-- a position widely known to help with back pain.
Wilson said there are two sleeping positions you should try to avoid.
“Sleeping on your side and curled up in a ball is not the best position because it tends to build up that pressure in the structures and discs in the back, particularly if we sustain that posture for a long time at night. You want to be in a more neutral position,” Wilson said. “And some people sleep on their stomach, but again that's not advisable, particularly if people have neck pain or headaches.”
If you sleep on your back or on your side, Wilson suggests using a night roll, a belt-like pillow with the padding on the back.
“The idea of a night roll is that by wearing it around your waist, it fills in the gap between your hips and your rib cage, and therefore keeps the natural curves in your back and in your spine,” he said.
Night rolls can be purchased online and at some local pharmacies. Wilson said you can also try to make one yourself at home by rolling up a full-size bath towel and tucking it into one leg of a pair of pantyhose or tights.
“Roll it up so that it’s a nice firm ball, put that around your waist and either pin it or just tie it in place, so it’ll stay firm if you roll from side to side during the night,” he said.
If your back pain continues, Wilson advises speaking with your doctor.
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