Those hitting middle age sleepless nights are most likely to be blighted by back or neck pain aggravated by sleeping than any other age group, according to new research from the British Chiropractic Association (BCA).
Middle age is the time when people are most likely to see the cumulative effects of poor posture, which can in turn trigger back and neck pain. The research into this age group (45-54) found that nearly two fifths (39%) who have suffered from back or neck pain identify sleeping/mattress as the trigger for those aches, and over half (58%) admit pain keeps them from sleeping.
With a huge 87% of people in this group saying they wake up with back or neck pain – approximately one in eight (13%) every day – the BCA is now urging people to pay attention to their sleeping habits.BCA chiropractor Rishi Loatey comments on the findings: “As we age, our bodies start to see the cumulative effect of years of poor posture, which can in turn lead to back pain. For many this pain is triggered by sleep.
“To help stop sleep from becoming a painful experience, I recommend sleeping on your side, so your neck isn’t twisted all night. In this position, your spine should be parallel to the mattress and should not sag (bed too soft) or bow (bed too hard). Before bending or doing anything sudden or strenuous in the morning make sure your body – and your back – has woken up. Devoting time to exercise in the daytime is also an important step to build muscle tone and promote good posture”.
Neil Robinson, a sleep expert at Sealy, says: “We recently conducted a world sleep census which revealed that almost a third of people aged 45-54 say they never wake up feeling refreshed. To help ensure you get a restful night’s sleep it’s important to have a good mattress. Numerous people consider their mattress to be a dull purchase, but investing in a mattress which is tailored to be supportive for you is so important for your health”.
Top Tips from the BCA
More generally, sleep/mattress is the third most common trigger for Brits with back or neck pain, affecting 34% of those people. The BCA offers these tips for those who struggle to sleep:
Update your mattress: Chiropractors recommend buying a new mattress at least every 10 years. Mattresses lose their support over time, so if you can feel the springs through your mattress, or the mattress is no longer level, your mattress is no longer providing the support you need.
- Buy the right mattress: Ensure your mattress is supportive for you. If you share a bed with your partner, it’s a good idea to look for two single mattresses which can be joined together, to ensure you both get the support you need
- Get moving: Activities such as yoga, which can improve posture, are recommended for people in the 45-54 age group. Other exercise which helps build your abdominal muscles could also help to protect your back. When exercising, warming up and warming down is essential to ensure that your joints and muscles don’t get a shock.
- Straighten Up: The BCA’s Straighten Up UK programme offers a series of daily exercises to help build muscle tone and improve posture.