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Sleeping Soundly: The Relationship Between Sleep and Spine Health
Sleeping Soundly: The Relationship Between Sleep and Spine Health

In the hustle and bustle of life, sleep is often not prioritized. Yet, the quality of our sleep plays a pivotal role in maintaining overall health and one area that's particularly affected is our spine. Did you know that poor sleep habits can worsen neck and back problems while on the flip side, good sleep habits can help prevent and relieve spine problems?

Let’s look at how a restful night’s sleep can lead to a happy spine.

  • Repairing and Restoring the Spine: During sleep, our body produces growth hormones and other substances that help repair and restore spine structures such as the discs, ligaments, muscles, and nerves. These structures are constantly under stress and strain during the day and need adequate sleep to heal and regenerate.
  • Reducing Inflammation and Pain: Sleep also helps reduce inflammation and pain in the spine, by lowering the levels of inflammatory cytokines and increasing the levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines. Inflammation and pain are common symptoms of many spine disorders, such as herniated discs, spinal stenosis, arthritis, and more.
  • Maintaining Posture and Alignment: Sleep also helps maintain posture and alignment of the spine, by allowing the spine to decompress and relax. Poor posture and alignment can cause or worsen spine problems, such as scoliosis, kyphosis, and spondylolisthesis.

Back and neck pain and poor spine health can affect your quality of sleep.

  • Causing Discomfort and Disturbance: Spine problems can cause discomfort and disturbance during sleep, by creating pressure points, restricting movement, and triggering pain. This can lead to difficulty falling asleep, frequent awakenings, and reduced sleep quality and quantity.
  • Interfering with Breathing and Circulation: Spine problems can also interfere with breathing and circulation during sleep, by compressing the airways, the lungs, the heart, and the blood vessels. This can result in snoring, sleep apnea, reduced oxygen levels, and increased blood pressure, which can affect the quality and quantity of sleep and increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Affecting Mood and Cognition: Spine problems can also affect mood and cognition during sleep, by altering the levels of neurotransmitters, hormones, and other chemicals in the brain. This can result in mood swings, depression, anxiety, irritability, and impaired memory, concentration, and learning, which can affect the quality and quantity of sleep and daytime functioning.

Follow these tips for improved sleep and your spine will appreciate it!

  • Invest in a Quality Mattress and Pillows: A comfortable and supportive mattress, pillow, and bedding can help you sleep better and protect your spine, by providing adequate cushioning, contouring, and pressure relief. Choose a mattress, pillow, and bedding that suit your body type, sleeping position, and personal preference.
  • Adopt a Healthy and Consistent Sleep Schedule: A healthy and consistent sleep schedule can help you sleep better and improve your spine health, by regulating your circadian rhythm, your sleep-wake cycle, and your hormone levels. You should aim to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep every night, and go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol, Nicotine, and Other Stimulants Before Bed: Stimulants can disrupt your sleep by increasing your heart rate, blood pressure, and alertness, and decreasing your sleep quality and quantity. You should avoid consuming these substances at least three to four hours before bed.
  • Practice Good Sleep Hygiene and Relaxation Techniques: Create a comfortable, quiet, dark, and cool sleeping environment that will aid in reducing stress and avoid using electronic devices, watching TV, or doing any stimulating activities before bed. Instead do some relaxing activities, such as reading, listening to music, meditating, or breathing exercises.

Sleep and spine health are closely related, and each can affect the other in positive or negative ways. Take these steps to improve your sleep and your spine health for a better quality of life and well-being.

AUTHOR: Dr. Brett Braly is a board-certified fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in spinal surgery. Dr. Braly is a leading advocate for minimally invasive techniques in spine surgery. Dr. Braly is named in the top “20 under 40” best spine surgeons by the North American Spine Society.

The Spine Clinic
The Spine Clinic of Oklahoma City
9800 Broadway Ext
Oklahoma City, OK 73114
Dr. Braly: Suite 203
Dr. Beacham: Suite 201