Proper support of your lumbar region and your thoracic spine helps prevent and alleviate back pain. If you’ve experienced some pain, you’re not alone. Approximately 80% of US residents experience back pain during their lives. Here are some other quick facts about back pain:
In 2017, the world’s number 1 cause of disability was back pain
Every year the US population spends $50 billion trying to alleviate back pain
As we age, back pain occurs more often
Back pain is one of the leading causes of sick days and lost productivity in the US
Thoracic or lumbar? Back pain isn’t just back pain.
The thoracic part of your spine is found in the middle and upper part of the back. More specifically, the thoracic spine includes the vertebrae known as T-1 to T-12. The lumbar spine is located at the lower end of the spine and it consists of 5 vertebrae, L1 to L5.
Together, the thoracic and lumbar part of the back account for many of the problems with back pain. The nerves located in this area are connected to many other parts of the body that may seem unrelated. Needless to say, back pain can contribute to an overall feeling discomfort.
Is back pain stealing your sleep more than you realize?
Everyone knows how back pain can make falling asleep difficult. We've probably all experienced a time where you can’t sleep because of your back. That’s easy to figure out. But what about those nights when you do fall asleep and afterwards the back pain is just bad enough to make you stir or constantly reposition?
The pain might not be bad enough to wake you up completely but it sure can prevent you from feeling refreshed in the morning. You might not even realize low-level back pain just ruined another night of sleep. Not knowing why can get frustrating. We might start wondering about a whole bunch of things like; “Am I too stressed at work?” or, “Did I eat too much at dinner?” or, “Did I pay that bill on time?”
Most people don’t know what lack of sleep can do
Are you really getting enough, good quality, restful sleep? By full night of sleep we’re not talking just lying-in bed waiting to fall asleep or in the morning, waiting for the alarm to go off. A good night’s sleep is crucial to good health.
This may seem obvious but it’s easy to ignore if you don’t know the facts. Learn why we sleep here.
During sleep our brain processes new data and flushes out toxic waste. Nerve cells connect and reorganize to promote healthy brain function. Your body gets a chance to repair cells. Energy rebalances and restores, and important chemicals like hormones and proteins are released throughout the body.
Here are some specifics about how both your body and brain are affected.
Many brain functions are affected by lack of sleep
- Problem-solving skills
- Ability to make decisions
- Ability to maintain focus on one thing
Emotional well-being suffers from lack of sleep
- Mood swings
- Lack of energy and drive
- Regulation of emotion
Weight gain can be a result of not enough sleep
- Hunger hormones can increase appetite
- Increased risk of obesity
- Metabolic syndrome
- Increased risk of type 2 diabetes
Scientists are learning more and more about how a healthy and strong immune system depends on sleep. The same goes for heart health.
How the right mattress can give your back the right support
Ready to buy the right mattress? Great, so what’s the difference between latex mattresses, memory foam, pocketed coiled springs, hybrids, support layers, mattress toppers, waffle/honeycomb structure, adjustable, box spring or no box spring required?
With everything going on in mattress technology these days, the types of mattresses available can be overwhelming. The choice you make about your new mattress doesn’t need to be. You just need the mattress that’s right for you – and maybe a partner. Here are some tips you might find helpful.
Determine your preferred sleep position. Everyone changes positions through the night. Try to figure out which position you are in most of the time. Are you predominantly a stomach sleeper, a back sleeper or a side sleeper.
The type of mattress you buy will be key for spinal alignment regardless of your sleeping position.
Try out different firmness levels.
Take your time with this part. What you’re looking for is called the “Goldilocks Choice”. It’s not too soft and it’s not too firm. You need something that’s going to give a little for your shoulders and hips but not too much. This is especially important if you’re a side sleeper.
If over the years your body weight has added up a little, you might opt for a more firm mattress. You might also need a little more pressure relieving for any sore parts of your body. Other than that, it’s really a matter of personal preference.
Pillows can play an important role in creating comfort and proper support. For example, pregnant women often use a pillow to support their mid-section and relieve some of the pressure on their backs during sleep. Lumbar support pillows are designed to do the same thing by giving you that extra little support exactly where you need it on your back.
Find a well-established mattress expert and partner with them to examine different mattresses that might suit your own personal preference.
Prepare to invest a little time making your final decision. It’s too important to rush through. Ask about their return policy and what happens if you’re not really thrilled with your mattress once you’ve slept on it a few nights. Discuss this upfront and get all the details including whether or not a full refund is available.