Stress, Sleep, & Spinal Health
When it comes to the building blocks of good health, there are few one-way relationships. Our health professional partners often stress that sleep, nutrition, and exercise are the three interrelated pillars of good health, meaning that each factor influences the other two. For instance, getting enough sleep makes you more likely to make good nutritional choices and exercise injury-free, while eating right and being physically fit makes it easier to sleep through the night.
Stress, back pain, and poor quality sleep are similarly related — and coincidentally, the most common complaints we hear from our customers. This week, we’d like to focus on how problems in any one of these areas can negatively affect the others. On a positive note, it turns out that managing your stress, taking care of your spine, and getting enough rest has reverberating effects on your well-being.
Chronic pain is extremely stressful, but did you know that stress itself can cause or contribute to back pain? Next time you’re feeling stressed out, pay attention to the tension you hold in your muscles. Chances are, you’ll be tensing your jaw, neck, and shoulder muscles without realizing that you are doing so. Over time, excessive tension in these muscle groups can lead to neck and/or back pain — especially if you tend to slouch, as many of us do. In the short term, this can lead to a temporary back ache. Over time, holding stress in your neck and shoulder muscles can set you up for injury and chronic pain.
Everyone knows that stress can make it harder to fall and stay asleep. Since sleep is critical for healing — this being the time when the majority of tissue regeneration takes place — sleep deprivation can significantly hamper recovery from an injury. Sleep is also crucial for managing stress and negative emotions in general. A great deal of psychological research shows that poorly rested people are more vulnerable to mood swings, react more intensely and negative to emotional stimuli, and are even prone to interpreting neutral stimuli negatively!
Even if you’re sleeping enough, sleeping on a poor quality or ill-fitting mattress can throw your skeletal system out of alignment. Mattresses are an extremely common source of back pain, and many people find that their pain issues resolve soon after being fitted for a mattress that suits their body type and sleeping style. A well-fitting mattress keeps your spine in a neutral position during sleep and supports your body’s curvature. This improves your posture, keeps blood moving through blood vessels unimpeded, and protects you from repetitive stress injuries.
In other words, neglecting your rest and the quality of your sleep surface can interfere with healing and lead to spinal alignment problems. Meanwhile, failing to manage your stress can cause excessive tension in your muscles and make it harder to get the rest you need. Talk about a vicious cycle!
Effectively, this means that a problem in any of these areas requires a multi-pronged approach for long-term resolution. If you’re already experiencing neck or back pain, get in touch with a certified osteopath, physiotherapist, or chiropractor. If you struggle to handle stress, remember that you do not have to suffer in silence. Your health professional can provide you with the resources you need. Lastly, if you’re looking for a mattress upgrade, visit your local Regal Sleep Solutions store. Our experts will work with your health professional to find your perfect fit so you can enhance your health from every angle.