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What Causes Back Pain After Sleeping?

person sleepingBack pain after waking up is often a result of stiffness from long periods of rest or decreased blood flow from sleeping, and symptoms usually subside after moving around a bit. However, persistent pain can be a result of stress, poor posture, and underlying medical conditions.

Bad Posture

If you’re noticing consistent back pain in the morning, your sleeping posture maybe at fault. Bad sleeping posture can put unneeded pressure on the spine, causing its natural curve to flatten. This is common for those of us who like to sleep on our stomachs. An ideal sleeping position is on your side with a pillow between your legs. You can also sleep on your back, but use a pillow underneath your knees, and if you must sleep on your stomach, attempt to relieve pressure by placing a pillow under your pelvis or lower abdomen.

Check Your Mattress

According to a 2009 study, switching out our mattresses older than nine years for newer ones can improve sleep quality, reduce back pain, and reduce stress symptoms. Sometimes, however, you may not need a new mattress. If your mattress isn’t that old or a new mattress isn’t in the cards for you, try using a mattress topper. The goal is to have a firm mattress to keep your shoulders from sinking while soft enough to be comfortable. If your mattress is too firm, try a soft mattress topper. If your mattress is too soft, a foam topper makes it firmer. If you are in the market for a new mattress, try and find one that rates as a five to seven on the mattress firmness scale.


This one may seem obvious, but it’s still worth mentioning. While most mothers will experience significant back pain between months five and seven of their pregnancy, others have been known to wake up with back pain as early as eight weeks into their pregnancy. To reduce pain and discomfort, try stretching before you get out of bed and using your legs to stand up instead of putting pressure on your back. You can also use a warm compress to promote blood flow to loosen the tight muscles.

Disc Degeneration

Disc degeneration is typically a result of aging and not of a major triggering event. Deteriorating discs can cause immense pain that often tends to be worse in the morning because the pressure inside the disc is higher in the morning. Your doctor may suggest wearing a corset or brace for back support.


More common in women than it is in men, this disorder causes widespread musculoskeletal pain. It’s also believed that it amplifies pain by affecting how your brain processes pain signals. The symptoms of fibromyalgia include fatigue, restless sleep, memory issues, altered moods, tension headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, and depression. Unfortunately, there is no cure. However, it can be managed with a proper anti-inflammatory approach often using diet and natural personalized supplementation.


  • Stretch in bed: stretch right before your get out of bed. Do a full body stretch by reaching your hands above your head as far as they will go. At the same time, stretch your legs in the opposite direction. Then bring your knees to your chest and hold to stretch your lower back. Following that, sit up and plant your feet on the floor (shoulder-width-apart) and reach your arms over your head, then side to side.
  • Planks: these help strengthen your abdominal muscles. As your abdominals get stronger the less strain you put on your back. Hold the plank for 30 seconds. Contract your abs, glutes, and thighs, lower, and repeat.
  • Mini-cobra: this movement includes the same movements as the cobra pose, but without overstretching your back. Hold this stretch for 10 seconds at a time, lower, and repeat.
  • Knee bends: this stretches your knees and glutes. Squat down as if you’re trying to sit back in a chair. Keep your knees bent at a 90-degree angle, and make sure they don’t track past your toes. Exhale on the way down, and inhale on the way up. Repeat 10 times.
  • Exercise throughout the day: walking is a great way to alleviate back pain. Try and walk up to 10,000 steps a day, but remember, anything that gets you moving and on your feet can help you keep your back strong. If you have an office job, stand up every 30 minutes to stretch. Standing desks may also help keep the pressure off your back during the day.
  • Topical Remedies: turmeric and peppermint essential oils are great for managing inflammation and, ultimately, pain. Make sure to dilute these oils with carrier oils, like olive oil, or you risk irritating your skin.

When To See a Doctor

It’s time to see a doctor if your pain does not improve with self-care. It’s also important to seek immediate medical treatment for severe pain that makes movement and everyday activities difficult. You should also see a doctor if your back pain also occurs with bowel and bladder problems, loss of feeling or weakness in the arms or legs, or shortness of breath, as these may be a sign of a serious underlying condition.

We Can Help

Here at The Wellness Connection, our team of practitioners know just how to treat your back pain. From wanting relief for sore muscles to needing a complete realignment, we have physical therapists and chiropractors ready to take care of all your needs. We understand that back pain is, well, a pain, and trying to figure out what’s causing it can sometimes be even worse. Rest assured that we’ll get to the bottom of all your health issues and will provide a solution that suits you and your lifestyle. Book an appointment with one of our practitioners today.

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